For several years, the dual rivalry between the Montana State University-Northern Lights and the University of Great Falls Argos was somewhat one-sided. But things are getting a lot more interesting as of late.
The No. 6 Argos beat the No. 8 Lights 19-12 in front of a capacity crowd Thursday night at the McLaughlin Center, and while the Argos won by seven points, the dual went down to the wire, with decisions at 184 pounds and 197 pounds giving the Argos the edge.
With the dual hanging in the balance for both teams, the Argos got a 6-2 win by top-ranked Michael French over former Havre Blue Pony Evan Hinebauch at 184 pounds, then Levi Morgan barely beat Northern’s Kody Reed 5-4 to seal the Lights’ fate.
But despite the loss, the Lights wrestled well.
Every match went the way of decision, in what was one of the closest duals the two of have put on in some time. Freshman Cameron Neiss got the Lights on the board at 133 pounds with a thrilling triple-overtime 7-2 win over Luis Carranza. Neiss’ win came after Northern’s Chase Dirden lost in his long-awaited return at 125 pounds. Northern was behind again when second-ranked Anthony Weerheim dominated Ryan Leonard in a 14-3 major decision at 149 pounds. MSU-N lost matches ay 157 and 165 pounds, but Max Payne got the Lights back in business with an outstanding win over Ross Mosher at 174. Payne beat Mosher, who is ranked second in the NAIA at 165, 8-6. Northern’s final points came from Rudy Schaffroth at heavyweight.
And while the Lights gave the Argos all they could handle on their home mat, after Northern tied UGF 24-24 back in November, MSU-N head coach Tyson Thivierge was hoping for a different outcome on Thursday night.
"Overall the dual played out like we thought it would," Thivierge said. "Unfortunately we lost two matches that we won in the first go around. In three other matches we have them on their backs with lots of time left in the period and we allow them to get off their backs. If we seal the deal when we have opportunities, the result is in our favor.
"My hat is off to Caleb (Schaeffer) and his crew for the job they did. They made the proper adjustments to beat us. It was an amazing atmosphere to compete in."
Both teams will now look to compete for a Western Regional title next weekend in Prescott, Ariz.
UGF 19, Lights 12
125 — Akmal Adilov, UGF, dec. Chase Dirden 11-9; 133 — Cameron Neiss, MSUN, dec. Luis Carranza 7-2 in 3OT; 141 — Anthony Varnell, UGF, dec, Brandon Leliefeld 10-5; 149 — Anthony Weerheim, MSUN, md, Ryan Leonard 14-3; 157 — Michael Hader, UGF, dec. Tay Todd 6-4; 165 — Noah Hatton, UGF, md. Jared Miller 14-5; 174 — Max Payne, MSUN, dec. Ross Mosher 8-6; 184 — Michael French, UGF, dec. Evan Hinebauch 6-2; 197 — Levi Morgan, UGF, dec. Kody Reed, 5-4; 285 — Rudy Schaffroth, MSUN, dec. Juan Enriquez 4-1.