Two months ago, the Montana State University-Northern wrestling team was a young and inexperienced squad when it beat the Northwest College Trappers in Powell, Wyo.
What a difference a couple of months makes.
On Thursday night at the MSU-Northern Fieldhouse, the Lights dominated the Trappers 31-3 in front of a large home crowd on what was Northern’s final home match of the season.
Included in the dual was a rousing senior-night win from 157-pounder Tay Todd. The former Bozeman High star pinned Clint Jacob in 2:21 and was already ahead on points 7-1 when he put Jacob on his back.
It was a great way for Todd, the Lights only senior to go out, and it was a spectacular way for the Lights to say goodbye to their home mat this season.
“We’re pleased,” MSU-N head coach Tyson Thivierge said. “There’s always things you can pick on, and we want to be better, but I’m pleased with how we wrestled tonight. Guys were focused, they wrestled well, they controlled the pace and the tempo and we wrestled the matches the way we wanted to.
“As for Tay (Todd), I talked to him about not getting to caught up in the emotion of the senior night stuff, but he came out really determined and wrestled hard,” he added. “That’s what he always does, he’s a hard worker and his work ethic really allows him to succeed. And he’s our No. 1 guy at that spot right now, and he got there through perseverance and hard work, and that work ethic really showed tonight.”
And it did for other Lights as well. There were double forfeits at 125 and 184 pounds, but the Lights didn’t take long to put the dual out of reach. Cameron Neiss pinned Marc Madsen in the first period at 133 pounds, and Brandon Leliefeld, who’s been on a tear as of late, followed Neiss’ win with a 15-2 major decision. Second-ranked Anthony Weerheim made the score 14-0 at 149 pounds when he majored Bobby Robins by a score of 18-9.
“We’re getting better every time we step out on the mat,” Thivierge said. “And that’s shows in what we were able to accomplish tonight. We had a few slow starts, but we did the things you’re going to do to be successful at the national tournament, like getting major decisions and tech. falls when you need them. Those are the things you need to do to score points at the national tournament and that’s what we’re building towards.”
At 165 pounds, freshman Jared Miller earned a 6-0 victory over Timber Holmquist to make the score 23-0 and end any chance of a Trapper comeback. Northwest got on the board with a win at 174, but then former Havre Blue Pony Evan Hinebauch jumped up to 197 pounds, gave away a lot of weight and still dominated Ben Price to the tune of an 18-2 technical fall. Northern then put the final points on the board in the most exciting match of the night as heavyweight Rudy Schaffroth outlasted Northwest’s Jonathon Sears Tiernan 7-6, after both wrestlers nearly took the match with pins.
“It’s a good win for us because we improvement,” Thivierge said. “There are areas where we need to get better, we need to be more dominant, but overall, we wrestled really well, and we are getting better each time out. And that’s what we want. That’s what we’re striving for.”
The Lights will get right back into the action on Saturday night when they dual Simon Fraser in Clarkston, Wash., Thivierge’s home town. The dual was originally scheduled for Jan. 29 in Spokane, but has since been moved to Saturday. Ten more Lights will travel to Jamestown, N.D. Saturday to compete in the Jamestown Open.
Lights 31, Trappers 3
125 – Open; 133 – Cameron Neiss, MSU-N pinned Marc Madsen, NW, 2:17; 141 – Brandon Leliefeld, MSU-N maj. dec. Jeremy Luna, NW, 15-2; 149 – Anthony Weerheim, MSU-N maj. dec. Bobby Robins, NW, 18-9; 157 – Tay Todd, MSU-N pinned Clint Jacob, NW, 2:21; 165 – Jared Miller, MSU-N dec. Timber Homquist, NW, 6-0; 174 – Keithan Cast, NW dec. Max Payne, MSU-N, 5-3; 184 – Open; 197 – Evan Hinebauch, MSU-N tech. fall Ben Price, NW, 18-2; HWT – Rudy Schaffroth, MSU-N dec. Jonathon Sears Tiernan, NW, 7-6.