Havre Daily News Sports Editor
For every good thing that happened to the Montana State University-Northern wrestling team in its dual with Jamestown College Tuesday night in Havre, something bad also happened to the Lights.
A set of bizarre circumstances involving a weight rule, as well as a string of poor Lights performances in the lower weight classes, pushed the Jimmies to a 26-19 win, spoiling the home debut of new MSU-N head coach Dan Troupe.
Northern got the dual off to a solid start as freshman Sean Costello rolled to an easy victory over Scott Thompson at 125 pounds. From there, however, the Lights would drop the next four matches, including a forfeit at 149 pounds.
Chris Smith intended to move up to 149 to make room for steadily improving freshman Steve Boger at 141 pounds. Smith, however, was declared ineligible to compete at 149 because his intentions to move up a weight was declared too late for him to wrestle on Tuesday.
“I take full responsibility for what happened with the forfeit situation,” Troupe said. “It was a pure coaching mistake on my part and it is one that probably cost us a win tonight.”
To make matters worse, before the forfeit was awarded to Jamestown, Boger, who had lobbied for the 141-pound slot, was dismantled by Zach Halcumb. After the first period, Boger seemingly shut down and garnered stalling penalties, before finally being pinned early in the third period.
“That was inexcusable,” Troupe said of Boger's effort. “That isn't how we do things in this wrestling program.
“He wanted to be in the position he was in tonight, and his teammates made sacrifices to put him there,” Troupe added. “The guys on this team work way too hard for anyone to go out there and give that kind of effort. It is really disappointing.”
Boger's loss, combined with the forfeit at 149 pounds, put the Jimmies well out in front at 16-3. When Ty Aiken was thumped by Jamestown's James Meland at 157 pounds, the Jimmies were well on their way to an easy victory, leading 20-3.
Then, as fast as things had snowballed against the Lights, momentum quickly changed. An inspired Aaron Jensen promptly dismantled Carlyle Scott in the 165-pound match. Jensen put on a technical clinic, but knowing that his team needed points desperately, he fought his way to a pin just as the first period ended.
Freshman Colter Dimas and sophomore Ryan Mattingly fed off Jensen's win and contributed 10 total points to the Lights' comeback effort. Dimas earned a major decision over Keenan Funk, and Mattingly scored a quick pin over Clyde Switzer to pull the Lights to within one point at 20-19.
“Aaron Jensen came out and really gave us a huge lift tonight,” Troupe said. “He knew what he needed to do and he went out and did it.
“The rest of the guys did the same thing. Colter Dimas, Ryan Mattingly, Brian Fritchman and Josh Robinson all showed a tremendous amount of heart,” he added. “They all went out on the mat knowing we needed a lot of points and they put their own records aside to try to get us a team win.”
Despite the heart the rest of the Northern team showed at the end of the dual, 19 points would be as close as it would get to a win. In the 197-pound match, Brian Fritchman and Stacey Mello waged an epic battle that needed an extra two minutes to decide. Fritchman came back from several deficits throughout regulation and appeared to be on his way to a slim victory. But Mello scored a takedown as time expired, leaving the match tied. In the final overtime period, Mello earned another hard-fought takedown to finish Fritchman off.
“That was a great match,” Troupe said. “Brian Fritchman wrestled his heart out.”
Northern was still in a position to win the dual if freshman Josh Robinson could have earned a pin in the heavyweight match. Instead, Robinson was beaten 11-7 by Sam Sand, locking up the win for the Jimmies.
“It was a tough night,” Troupe said. “We had some guys wrestle really well and we had some very disappointing matches.
“Hopefully, we'll learn from our mistakes tonight and move on,” he added.
The Lights will return to action on Sunday when they travel to Laramie, Wyo., for the annual Cowboy Invitational. Northern's next home dual will be on Dec. 10 when the Lights host the University of Regina.
Jimmies 26, Lights 19
125 - Sean Costello, MSU-N dec. Scott Thompson, J, 10-4
133 - Shane Hase, J maj. Dec. Mike McPeak, MSU-N, 12-4
141 - Zach Halcumb, J pinned Steve Boger, MSU-N, 5:38
149 - Brad Malum wins by forfeit
157 - Brad Malum, J maj. dec. Ty Aiken, MSU-N, 20-3
165 - Aaron Jensen, MSU-N pinned Carlyle Scott, J, 2:50
174 - Colter Dimas, MSU-N maj. dec. Keenan Funk, J, 18-4
184 - Ryan Mattingly, MSU-N pinned Clyde Switzer, J, 2:58
197 - Stacey Mello, J dec. Brian Fritchman, MSU-N, 13-11 (OT)
275 - Sam Sand, J dec. Josh Robinson, MSU-N, 11-7.