By Ryan DivishHavre Daily News Sports Editorfirstname.lastname@example.org
Any hopes that University of Great Falls wrestling team may have had about upsetting the MSU-Northern wrestling team or even winning a few matches remained just that - hopes.
The Lights dominated their fledgling rival Wednesday night, winning all but one match in a 44-3 rout in the final home wrestling action of the season at the MSU-Northern gymnasium.
It wasn't quite the shutout that Lights head coach David Ray had hoped for, but it was darn close.
"You know, the last time we stepped on the mat to compete, we got our ass kicked," Ray said referring to his team's losses to Boise State and Cal-State Fullerton a week ago. "This was a good turnaround. I was really pleased with the way we came out and set the tone early."
Freshman Michael McPeak made his debut at 125 pounds, after wrestling much of the season at 133. McPeak was impressive, pinning fellow freshman Curtis Clowdus just minutes into the match.
Northern's Brian Luna then picked up a win by forfeit from at 133 to push the lead to 12-0.
At 141 pounds, senior Dan Shaw faced talented freshman Spencer Griffiths, who normally wrestles at 133, but moved up a weight for dual.
Griffiths controlled the match early, taking a 6-0 lead in the first period on a takedown, a near fall and two stalling calls on Shaw.
The lead ballooned to 8-2 late in the third period, but Shaw tried desperately to win the match in the last 25 seconds, ripping Griffiths to his back with a headlock, scoring two points for the takedown and three for a near fall. But Shaw ran out of time before he could get the pin, losing 9-7 with riding time.
"Great Falls was smart moving Griffiths up a weight," Ray said. "He hadn't beaten Luna yet this season and he looked strong."
Still, Ray felt like Shaw had his opportunities.
"It was a weight thing with Shaw," Ray said. "He had to cut too much late and it really affected his energy. He made that last push at the end, but he should have been doing that the whole match."
But those would be the only points Great Falls would get.
Senior Dustyn Azure made the most of his final home varsity start, pinning Justin Harjo with 39 seconds remaining in the first period in the 149-pound match.
Fellow senior Stryder Davis followed that up with a 12-3 major victory over freshman Joe Casey at 157 pounds.
Davis didn't have the best match against UGF the first time around, and he certainly wanted to make amends.
"I didn't cut weight right for that first match," Davis admitted. "This time I wanted to let them I know I'm really a better wrestler than that."
Davis did that and then some, scoring an early takedown and trying to roll Casey over for the pin in the first period. With Casey doing everything in his power not to get pinned, Davis went back to scoring takedowns, racking up four more to get the win.
"You always want to get a pin in a dual, but it was his goal not to get pinned" Davis said. "It really kind of wears you down when you wrestle someone who is just trying not to get pinned. You get frustrated because you are trying that much harder. Emmett (Willson) went through it a lot last year."
At 165 pounds, junior Aaron Jensen scored a tough 5-4 win over Mike Kummer. Jensen jumped out to an early 4-1 lead. Kummer scored two escapes and a stall to cut the lead to 5-4, but it was too late.
"Jensen really took it to him early, but he kind of shut down," Ray said. "I think he respects that guy too much. Jensen could've put him away if he hadn't shut down."
Northern continued its winning ways at 174, as Ryan Mattingly shutout Robert Hazenberg 8-0 to score another major victory for the Lights.
"Mattingly looked solid," Ray said. "He needs to get better at turning opponents after getting takedowns."
Northern's next two matches took close to a combined three minutes.
Senior Jesse Juarez made quick work of former Chinook standout Eric Hinebauch, pinning him with 1:54 remaining in the first period.
Freshman Brian Fritchman followed that up with a pin of UGF's Larry Johnson. Fritchman took advantage of an off-balanced Johnson shot, and rolled him over for the fall with 1:52 remaining in the first period.
"Jesse looked very solid," Ray said. "Fritchman did a good job of taking advantage of a mistake."
In the match of the night, fifth-ranked Chase Gormley defeated eighth-ranked Luke Roberts 10-4 at heavyweight.
Gormley was solid early, scoring a double-leg takedown and a three-point near fall to grab a 5-0 lead. Gormley used the lead to wear down Roberts, scoring another near fall and an escape.
"It's big when Chase can come out and get a big lead early," Ray said. "It really wears down opponents physically when he can ride them out."
Ray certainly couldn't complain with the way the dual turned out.
"To be honest, I wanted to shut them out," he said. "But overall, I was pleased with how we performed. I saw a lot of good things from them. I think they know it's time to raise their level."
With the Northern Regional tournament in Huron S.D. just over a week away, the dual offered a good opportunity for the Lights to get in some quality mat time.
"We're peaking at the right time," Davis said. "Coach Ray has done a good job of planning it out. You don't want to overtrain and get burned out at the end."
MSU-NORTHERN 44, GREAT FALLS 3
125 - Michael McPeak, MSU-N pinned Curtis Clowdus, UGF 2:09; 133 - Brian Luna, MSU-N win by forfeit; 141 - Spencer Griffiths, UGF dec. Dan Shaw, MSU-N 9-7; 149 - Dustyn Azure, MSU-N pinned Justin Harjo, MSU-N 2:20; 157 - Stryder Davis, MSU-N major dec. Joe Casey, UGF 12-3; 165 - Aaron Jensen, MSU-N dec. Mike Kummer, UGF 5-4; 174 - Ryan Mattingly, MSU-N major dec. Robert Hazenberg, UGF 8-0; 184 - Jesse Juarez, MSU-N pinned Eric Hinebauch, UGF 1:06; 197 - Brian Fritchman, MSU-N pinned Larry Johnston, UGF 1:07; HWT - Chase Gormley, MSU-N dec. Luke Roberts, UGF 10-4