Coming back from a 12-0 deficit isn’t an easy thing in an NAIA wrestling dual. But when you’re trying to do it against the No.1-ranked team in the country, it’s even a bigger chore.
Yet, that’s almost what the No. 7 Montana State University-Northern wrestling team did in a 27-18 loss to the No. 1 Southern Oregon Red Raiders Friday night at the MSU-Northern Fieldhouse.
The Lights fell behind 12-0 after freshman Riley Miller was pinned by No.1-ranked Mitchell Lofstedt in the opening match, and Northern forfeiting at 133 pounds. From there, however, Northern fought the Red Raiders tooth and nail, with only a couple of matches making the difference.
“I felt like it was there for the taking,” Northern head coach Tyson Thivierge said. “We had chances to really grab this dual away from them but we continuously shot ourselves in the foot. We made some bad decisions technically tonight and it cost us. Southern Oregon is a really solid team, and they are ranked number one for a reason. But we had our chances.”
Northern having chances to stay with the powerful Raiders was spurred on by four big wins.
At 141 pounds, freshman Hunter Azure pulled off a hard-fought, 6-5 decision over Brad Tamishiro. The match was a back-and-forth affair, but Azure pulled out a reversal late in the third period to win. Immediately following that match, fourth-ranked Anthony Weerheim gutted out a 2-1 win in double overtime over third-ranked Kyle Wikurty. The two were deadlocked at 1-1 after seven minutes on the mat, and in the second overtime, Weerheim earned an escape, then rode out Wikurty on his chance to earn the one point.
“Those were big wins for us,” Thivierge said. “Hunter is really starting to wrestle well. And Anthony really fought hard. I think if he trusts his conditioning and wrestles more aggressively, he would dominate those matches more, but it was a good win for him.”
Weerheim’s decision brought the Lights to within 12-6, but SOU went right back in front with a decision from fifth-ranked Jimmy Eggemeyer at 157 pounds. But Havre’s Ethan Hinebauch helped Northern stay close as he pinned third-ranked Derek Mestrovich at 165 pounds. Hinebauch trailed 4-3 at the end of the first period, but quickly turned the tables in the second.
“Ethan was Ethan,” Thivierge said. “He gets in tights spots that scare you to death because he goes after his opponent so hard. But then he comes right back and makes a great move and ends up burying the guy. He’s just so determined out there.”
But as good as Hinebauch was and with his brother Evan dominating SOU’s Ethan Hinton at 197 pounds, Northern couldn’t seize the momentum. Trailing just 15-12, SOU got a pin from Brian Lemmon at 174 pounds over Northern’s Jared Miller, then MSU-N’s Max Payne moved up to 184 pounds and lost a tough decision to SOU’s Austin Vanderford. By the time Evan Hinebauch pinned Hinton in 3:07, the Lights trailed 24-18 and needed a pin from heavyweight Nick King to salvage a draw. But King lost 2-1 heartbreaker to sixth-ranked Bubba Owens to make the final score a little more distant.
“I’m not disappointed in the way we competed,” Thivierge said. “We went out and gave it our all and we tried to be pretty aggressive. But, again, we just shot ourselves in the foot one too many times and we have to learn from those mistakes if we want to contend with teams at this level.”
The Lights will be back at home for a pair of duals on Dec. 2 against top NAIA teams, all of which will compete in a triangular.
Southern Oregon 27, Lights 18
125 – Mitchell Lofstedt, SOU pinned Riley Miller, MSU-N, 2:43; 133 – Miguel Baltazar, SOU won by FFT; 141 – Hunter Azure, MSU-N dec. Brad Tamishiro, SOU, 6-5; 149 – Anthony Weerheim, MSU-N dec. Kyle Wikurty, SOU, 2-1 in 2OT; 157 – Jimmy Eggemeyer, SOU dec. Mickey Cheff, MSU-N, 9-5; 165 – Ethan Hinebauch, MSU-N pinned Derek Mestrovich, SOU, 3:30; 174 – Brian Lemmon, SOU pinned Jared Miller, MSU-N, 2:58; 184 – Austin Vanderford, SOU dec. Max Payne, MSU-N, 10-6; 197 – Evan Hinebauch, MSU-N pinned Ethan Hinton, SOU, 3:07; HWT – Bubba Owens, SOU dec. Nick King, MSU-N, 2-1.