The Montana State University-Northern wrestling team is off to a great start in 2010.
The Lights have already qualified a good number of wrestlers for the NAIA national tournament in the spring, and have done well on the mat despite dealing with injuries to standouts like nationally-ranked Max Payne at 174 pounds and Ethan Hinebauch at 165 pounds, among others.
But starting Friday afternoon in Great Falls, things are going to get much tougher for the No. 10 Lights. Northern heads to Great Falls to participate in the Battle of the Rockies Duals on Friday and the Battle of the Rockies Open Saturday at CMR High School. The event is hosted by the University of Great Falls Argos.
Friday's lineup will be a big one for Northern's national ranking. At 2 p.m., the Lights are slated to dual second-ranked McKendree College. McKendree is perennial NAIA powerhouse, and as of Friday, has eight ranked wrestlers, including the No. 1 wrestler at 133 pounds. The Lights have Anthony Weerheim (149), Payne (174), Evan Hinebauch (184) and Rudy Schaffroth (HWT) ranked nationally, although freshman Cameron Neiss (133) and Jared Miller (174) should also jump into the new rankings which come out on Monday.
After Northern faces off against McKendree, the Lights will contend with No. 18 Jamestown College on Friday night. The Jimmies are another NAIA powerhouse, and have a long-standing rivalry with Northern wrestling. Jamestown boasts five nationally-ranked wrestlers coming into the weekend.
Saturday will also be a big day for the Lights as UGF hosts an open tournament with all the teams participating. Many Lights individuals will partake in the event, giving Northern plenty of chances to get on the mat throughout the two days in Great Falls.
The wrestling action on Great Falls starts at 2 p.m. Friday. The Lights take on Jamestown at 7 p.m. Friday night, and Saturday's tourney runs all day at CMR. This weekend marks the start of a busy month for the Lights.
The Lights next wrestle at home on Jan. 20 against Northwest College.