It wasn’t the start the Montana State University-Northern wrestling team was looking for, but never-the-less, the Lights will battle on.
Northern finished the first day at the 2011 NAIA national wrestling tournament in ninth place overall with 16.5 points. Interestingly, the Lights are tied with rival UGF for ninth. However, MSU-N has just two wrestlers still with a chance to win national championships this weekend.
As expected, former Havre Blue Pony and top-ranked 184-pounder Evan Hinebauch blasted his way into the quarterfinals with two pins on Thursday. Hinebauch will wrestle Camblesville’s Alan Scruggs in the quarterfinals today. UGF’s Michael French is still on a collision course to meet Hinebauch in the 184-pound finale after he won twice on Thursday as well.
While Hinebauch is doing what was expected, there were surprises for the Lights, good and bad. Freshman Cameron Neiss won twice on Thursday to reach the 133-pound quarters where he’ll face Adam Joseph of Concordia. Neiss had a brilliant first day of competition, winning a close decision and by pin in the first round.
But as exciting as Neiss’ march to the quarters was, the Lights suffered some major setbacks as well.
Freshman Max Payne (174) and sophomore Rudy Schaffroth were both beaten in their first matches Thursday after coming to Iowa as contenders in their respective weight classes. Both wrestlers had byes in the consolation bracket Thursday night, and will compete again this morning. Northern also saw Brandon Leliefeld win his first match at 141 before losing his second. He came back to win his first loser-out match, while Cody Miller (157) and Jared Miller (165) also lost first-round matches but bounced back with wins Thursday night. Tay Todd had a strong win in his first match at 157, but lost in his second match and will compete this morning. Freshman Kody Reed lost at 197 in the opening round and had a bye Thursday night.
But the biggest shock one way or another came in Thursday night’s second round of the winner’s bracket. Northern junior and top-seeded Anthony Weerheim was upset by Baker’s Jarrell Price in a close 4-3 decision. Weerheim was considered the favorite to win at 149 after losing just twice all season long.
As for the team race, the Lights fell back in the pack as a result of Thursday’s up-and-down day. Likewise, the Argos did as well. UGF saw former Havre Blue Pony Myles Mazurkiewicz lose a heartbreaking 5-3 decision in the second round to top-ranked Tommy Pretty. The match on Thursday was a rematch of the 133-pound championship a year ago, also won by Pretty. And now the Lights and Argos trail defending champion Notre Dame by a wide margin. Notre Dame is in the lead at the end of the first day with 39 points. Missouri Valley is second at 35 points and McKendree is third with 33 points.
The national tournament continues with two sessions today and two more sessions on Saturday in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The finals are set for 5 p.m. M.S.T. on Saturday night.
Lights at nationals
133 – Cameron Neiss
1st rd - pinned Joshua Chappa, CLAND, 6:50; 2nd rd – dec. Adam Joseph, CON, 6-5.
141 – Brandon Leliefeld
Pigtail - Brandon Leliefeld dec. H. Muscartt, OCU, 3-1; 1st rd - lost dec. Jesse Miller, SHOR, 4-2;Consolation 1st rd - dec. Blake Nichols, BAC, 10-8.
149 – Anthony Weerheim
1st rd - dec. Brandon Tuerich, JAM; 2nd rd - lost dec. Jarrell Price, BAK, 4-3.
157 – Tay Todd
1st rd - maj. dec. Brad Cuestis, HC, 11-2; 2nd rd - lost dec. Justin Mills, SOU, 6-5.
157 – Cody Miller
1st rd - lost dec. Samuel Brown JAME; Consolation 1st rd - dec. Tyler Harshbarger, LWC, 6-3.
165 – Jared Miller
1st rd - pinned by Tyler Sarringer, DWU, 1:21; Consolation 1st rd - pinned Ian Taylor, HLG, 1:40.
174 – Max Payne
Pigtail - lost dec. John Vogt, MKE, 9-7; Consolation 1st rd – Bye
184 – Evan Hinebauch
1st rd - pinned Scott Stewart, CLAND, 2:35; 2nd rd – pinned Casey Finnicum, USF, 1:31.
197 – Kody Reed
1st rd - lost dec. Raymond Mosely (JAME), 12-7; Consolation 1st rd – Bye
HWT – Rudy Schaffroth
1st rd - lost maj. dec. Josh Geppert, DWU, 15-5; Consolation 1st rd – Bye