It wasn’t the start the Montana State University-Northern wrestling team was looking for. But the Lights will go forward from here.
On Friday night at the MSU-Northern Fieldhouse, the Lights fell victim to a powerful North Idaho College lineup in the season debut for both teams. The Cardinals, a perennial NJCAA powerhouse bested the Lights 30-12.
“There’s no sugar coating it,” MSU-N third-year head coach Tyson Thivierge said. “We just didn’t perform like we thought we would. We really can’t make the excuse that we’re young because so are they. We just didn’t wrestle well.
“Our feet were heavy,” he added. “We weren’t moving well on the mat and overall we were just sloppy. Our conditioning is not where it should be right now, and that’s on us as coaches. We’ve prepared them well, we’ve live-wrestled a lot in practice, and because of that, the conditioning side of things has taken a back seat. So we’ll get that corrected.”
The Cardinals, who followed their win in Havre with another one on Saturday at UGF, looked sharp at each end of their lineup Friday night.
NIC raced out to an 11-0 lead with wins at 125, 133 and 141 pounds, all in dominating fashion. Finally, at 149 pounds, Northern transfer Anthony Weerheim got the Lights on the board with their first win of the young season. Weerheim took apart NIC’s McKray Jones 6-1 in a technical match to get the Lights three points.
But NIC was too strong, and won matches at 157 pounds and 174 pounds, both by pin, effectively putting the Lights in a hole they couldn’t dig themselves out of.
“The middle of the lineup is where we thought we’d have a chance to really make up some ground on them and it didn’t work out that way,” Thivierge said. “We knew they (Cardinals) were very good at the top and bottom of their order, but I thought we would compete with them in the middle of the lineup and that’s where they hurt us the most with two pins.”
The biggest bright spots of the night for the Lights came at 165 and 184 pounds, respectively.
At 165, freshman and former Havre Blue Pony star Ethan Hinebauch made his MSU-N debut by beating Jake Mason 18-3. With the Lights needing points, Hinebauch was relentless in taking down Mason and he wound up earning a much-needed technical fall.
Then, at 184 pounds, redshirt freshman Max Payne moved up to face Claude Young and came away with a 15-5 major decision. Payne was filling in for Northern’s injured star, Evan Hinebauch, and despite giving up a lot of size to Jones, Payne was by far the superior wrestler.
“Max is going to be horse for us,” Thivierge said. “He’s fun to coach, he loves to work hard and he has a belief in himself that he’s going to get it done every time he steps on the mat. He’s going to be special.
“Ethan is so powerful and he believes his power will get him out of any situation,” he added. “And this was a really good first win for him against a solid opponent. But once he learns to wrestle ahead, wrestle in the positive instead of just trying to overpower every opponent, with the power he already has, he’ll be unstoppable. But tonight was definitely a good start for him and I was pleased with the way both he and Max performed.”
While it was a good start for wrestlers like Hinebauch, Payne and Weerheim, Friday night’s dual didn’t end the way the Lights would have liked. NIC’s upper-weight stars Jamelle Jones (197) and Marcel Dubose (HWT) picked up the last seven points of the dual with wins over Northern’s Kody Reed and Rudy Shaffroth, respectively.
And while MSU-N was hoping for a better start to its season, the Lights have a long way to go and a lot of mat time left to make strides.
“We’ll improve from here,” Thivierge said. “We saw a lot of things we needed to work on tonight, and the one thing about this team, they do work very hard and they want to be better. So that’s what we’ll do, we’ll get back to work on Monday and go forward.”
Next up for the Lights will be a trip to Powell, Wyo., for the Northwest College Open on Saturday. MSU-N’s next home dual will be Nov. 18 against UGF.
North Idaho 30, Lights 12
125 – Kyle McCrite, NIC tech. fall Chase Dirden, MSU-N, 16-0; 133 – Brock Banta, NIC dec. Ryan Shestad, MSU-N, 8-2; 141 – Brandon Mowry, NIC dec. Cameron Neiss, MSU-N, 8-2; 149 – Anthony Weerheim, MSU-N dec. McKray Jones, NIC, 6-1; 157 – Jeremy Bommarito, NIC pinned Cody Miller, MSU-N, 1:57; 165 – Ethan Hinebauch, MSU-N tech. fall Jake Mason, NIC, 18-3; 174 – Jesse Nielson, NIC pinned Jared Miller, MSU-N, 3:32; 184 – Max Payne, MSU-N maj. dec. Claude Young, NIC 15-5; 197 – Jamelle Jones, NIC maj. dec. Kody Reed, MSU-N, 15-4; HWT – Marcel Dubose, NIC dec. Rudy Shaffroth, MSU-N 7-3.