The Montana State University-Northern wrestling team has had some good success in duals this season. But the Lights are looking at one setback they’d like to atone for dead in front of them.
Northern isn’t just looking to reverse a 23-16 loss to the Argos back on Dec. 6, but the Lights and their fans will also be saying goodbye to Northern seniors Evan Hinebauch, Anthony Weerheim and another former Havre Blue Pony, Beau LaSalle.
“It’s going to be a pretty emotional night,” Northern head coach Tyson Thivierge said. “It always is when we wrestle UGF. It’s a special rivalry and this dual means a lot to both programs.
“But it’s also senior night and we have three great seniors,” he added. “It’s going to be weird nit having guys like Evan and Beau and Weerheim around anymore. They’ve all meant a lot to our program and to me personally. So it’s going to be a very emotional night for sure.”
As emotional as tonight will be, that’s just the key that Thivierge says his team must guard against when they get on the mat. It’s a key the Lights will need if they are to upend the powerful Argos, who have a total of 11 wrestlers on their roster who are ranked nationally.
“The big thing for us is understanding the ebbs and flows of this dual,” Thivierge said. “There are going to be hiccups, but we have to avoid the emotions of that getting to us. Each of our guys has to go out and stay focused for seven minutes and they have to stay in the moment. That’s what we have to do in order to be successful.”
Hinebauch’s final time at home will be a special one. His career has spanned eight years in Havre and even longer back to his days in Chinook. He’ll either wrestle tonight at 184 pounds, where he’s ranked second nationally, or he could move up to 197 to take on third-ranked Kameron Jackson.
“I couldn’t think of anything better than to wrestle against UGF in my last home match,” Hinebauch said. “It’s going to be an emotional night for me. But we’re also focused on winning. All of our guys are excited for this dual. This is always a big one for both teams. It’s going to be pretty intense.”
There are huge matches all over tonight’s lineup, including a possible showdown between two former Blue Ponies at 149 pounds and an even bigger NAIA matchup at 141. And both could involve Northern seniors.
At 141, the Lights will send out Weerheim, ranked second in third in the NAIA, while UGF will likely have top-ranked Anthony Varnell across from him. Weerheim moved down to 141 about a month ago and has already thrived, though he hasn’t faced off against Vasser since the move.
At 149 pounds, the Lights will send out either LaSalle or James Petersen, while UGF will likely have Myles Mazurkiewicz in that slot. Mazurkiewicz is ranked No. 7 at 141 and he could wrestle there tonight, while UGF head coach Caleb Schaeffer might opt to put in fifth-ranked Mike Vasser at 149. In the first meeting between the Lights and Argos, Mazurkiewicz, a former HHS great wrestled at 141, but he’s also seen action at 149 in previous duals.
“There’s a lot of great matchups within the dual,” Thivierge said. “I feel like we match up well with them (Argos). And I know Caleb feels the same way about his team. So when you have this many solid wrestlers going head-to-head, it really comes down to a battle of wills. It’s about who wants each match more. Especially this time of year because everybody is peaking. That should make for an exciting night.”
Tonight’s lineup will also feature MSU-N freshman Riley Miller taking on fourth-ranked Danny Luttrell for the Argos, while Cameron Neiss, who’s ranked 11th at 133 could have a rematch with Luke Schlosser, who’s ranked 12th. Neiss edged Schlosser 3-1 in the first dual in Great Falls. At 157 pounds, Northern freshman Mickey Cheff will take on either ninth-ranked Mike Hader or 12th-ranked Ryan Leonard. Cheff didn’t wrestle in the first dual between the two rivals.
In the upper weights, the Lights will go with Ethan Hinebauch at 165 pounds. He was also out with an injury the first time around and he should make a big difference tonight. Hinebauch, who’s ranked fifth will likely face 10th-ranked Noah Hatton. Jared Miller will get the call for Northern at 174. The 10th-ranked Miller will square off against Shaun Lau most likely. UGF will possibly start Brock Picard or Levi Morgan at 184 with either Evan Hinebauch or Kody Reed on the other side. Whoever doesn’t wrestle at 184 will wrestle at 197, most likely against Jackson. In the heavyweight match, the Argos will go with fourth-ranked Sears Tiernan against Northern frosh Nick King. Tiernan beat King 5-3 in Great Falls.
So, as with every Northern-UGF dual, there’s going to be great matchups and great battles across the board. And it’s a battle Thivierge says will come down to the little things. It’s also a battle he says his team is ready for, just as the Argos will be, in what is Montana’s only college wrestling rivalry.
“We have to take control,” Thivierge said. “We have to believe we can take control. We absolutely have to take the fight to them. We have to pick up the bonus points where we can, we have to get pins where we can and we have to take advantage of the positive situations we put ourselves in.
“These are two really good teams going at it on a special night,” he added. “They (Argos) will be ready for us and I know our guys are ready for them. Now we just have to go out on the mat and have each guy execute for seven minutes. That’s what it’s going to come down to.”
Tonight’s dual between the Lights and Argos will get underway at 7 at the MSU-Northern Fieldhouse, with the Northern seniors being honored before the start. Fans can follow the dual live on twitter at twitter/havredaily.
Battle for the Big Sky Part 2
No. 9 MSU-N vs No. 4 UGF
Tonight at 7
MSU-N Probable Lineup
125 — Riley Miller; 133 — Cameron Neiss; 141 — Antthony Weerheim; 149 — Beau LaSalle or James Petersen; 165 — Ethan Hinebacuh; 174 — Jared Miller; 184 — Evan Hinebauch or Kody Reed; 197 — Hinebauch or Reed; HWT — Nick King.
Great Falls Probable Lineup
125 — Danny Luttrell; 133 — Scott Schlosser; 141 — Myles Mazurkiewicz or Anthony Varnell; 149 — Mike Vasser; 157 — Mike Hader; 165 — Noah Hatton; 174 — Shaun Lau; 184 — Brock Picard or Levi Morgan; 197 — Kameron Jackson; HWT — Sears Tiernan or Juan Enriquez.