George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor firstname.lastname@example.org
It's hard to believe, but tonight will already be the last chance for wrestling fans to see the Montana State University- Northern Lights in action on their home mat. However, Northern fans will be in for a treat, because tonight at 7 at the MSU-Northern Fieldhouse, things don't get any bigger than the Lights taking on their arch rival from Great Falls, the University of Great Falls Argos. The Argos come into Havre after sweeping the Lights last season. UGF starts the night as the No. 6 team in the NAIA while the young Lights are ranked 14th. The dual will not only feature plenty of Montana talent wrestling against each other, but there are nationally- ranked wrestlers and returning national champions and all-americans, all of which only adds tot he rivalry. "With UGF currently being ranked sixth, we have our work cut out for us," first-year Northern head coach Tyson Thivierge said. "We’ve stressed to our wrestlers that rankings don’t measure the real ability we have as a team or as individuals. Our emphasis this week is to step on the mat with confidence. It’s that simple, we don’t have to be the most talented wrestler, we have to out work our opponent on the mat to get the victory." And the Lights will be fighting for victory against a loaded UGF team which features five ranked wrestlers and two returning all-americans. Of course, the Lights have some star power of their own, starting with defending NAIA 125-pound champion Cory Borges. The senior from California is off to a strong start this season is ranked No. 1 at 125 pounds. Borges will hope to get the Lights off to a fast start against UGF's Kyle Middlemist. Northern will hope to make up ground on the Argos in the lower weights, as that's where UGF head coach Caleb Schaefer's team is a little more inexperienced, but no less talented. Colt Heger will likely go for the Lights at 133 pounds, where he'll take on Josh Henderson. Like Borges, Heger's season is off to a good start. The senior captured the 133-pound title at the Northwest Open two weeks ago. Former Havre High standout Beau LaSalle gets the nod for MSU-N at 141 pounds as he'll go against Jason Costello. At 149 pounds, Tay Todd will take the mat for the Lights against newcomer Jeremy Montang. After the 149-pound match, things will get tough for the Lights. Northern is talented in the upper weights, but that's where UGF is expected to be on of the strongest teams in the NAIA this season. At 197 pounds, Jonas Schenzel of Northern will have his hands full with second-ranked Alex Calvi of UGF. Calvi is an NAIA returning all-american and is already off to a strong start this season. So is UGF heavyweight Brad Fraser, who will take on Robbi Shaw tonight. Shaw and Fraser have had good battles in the past, and Fraser comes into tonight's match ranked fifth in the country. The 184-pound match should be a good one as well. MSU-N freshman Evan Hinebauch will go up against UGF's Michael French. Both wrestlers are already familiar with each other, and French is currently eighth in the nation. Austin Oulette will also have his hands full at 174 pounds with UGF's Brendon DeCock, who is ranked No. 2 in the nation and is a returning national runner-up from a year ago. Rounding out tonight's matches will be Colter Dimas facing off against Jacob Buttenhoff at 165 pounds and Mark Hobson taking on sixth-ranked Ross Mosher at 157 pounds. Tonight's dual will be a big test for the young Lights, and while Thivierge has been about getting Northern back on top of Montana's collegiate wrestling scene, he is also taking things one day at a time. "Our guys are very content right now to step on the mat with no added emphasis of a rivalry," he said. "I’ve said it a lot before, we are taking each competition in stride and not spending time thinking about a rivalry. For us to be successful, we have to keep moving forward and face the next team. We take it day to day and one match at a time. Up and down our line-up, we are confident we have the guys here to contend for a national title and to beat whichever team we face. "No matter who we are facing, the guys know that bonus points like majors, techs and falls are very important to the success of any dual," he added. "We also understand that keeping our head in each match is important to win. We can’t look past anyone at any time. Caleb and I have talked about this match since July and we are both very excited to put our guys out against each other. It should be an extremely loud atmosphere and I’m excited to coach my guys. For now, we are keeping it simple, one day at a time." Tonight's NAIA dual between the Lights and Argos will get under way at 7 at the MSU-Northern Fieldhouse. MSU-N will honor its seniors before the match begins.