For many college teams, an Alumni competition is nothing more than a fun, and laid back exhibition of sorts. But when it comes to the annual Montana State University-Northern Alumni wrestling dual, laid back is not quite the case.
Both the current Lights who compete and the past Northern greats who return to Havre take dual very seriously. It’s still fun, but it’s also
serious business. The Alumni want to win, and want to help the young Lights of the present, while the current Lights use the dual as a first step in what is a long season.
And the 2012 Alumni Dual will take place on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Armory Gymnasium.
“We have a saying that it’s all fun and games until you step on the mat against the Alumni,” Northern head coach Tyson Thivierge said. “Then, it’s all for real. The Alumni want to come in here and take it to us, so I tell our guys to treat that dual, those matches as if they were wrestling for the national championship. It’s a great way to get our season started.”
This year’s dual will feature some impressive names on the who’s who list of former Lights. Included in the list is three former NAIA national champions, including four-time national champ Turk Lords, three-time national champion Emmett Willson and Northern’s most recent national champ, Havre’s Evan Hinebauch. Lords won four titles from 1998-2001 and competed with Thivierge during that time. Wilson followed Lords with championships in 2002, 2003 and 2004, and he finished third his freshman campaign. Hinebauch, like Lords and Willson is a four-time NAIA All-American, and he captured his 184-pound national title in 2011.
Joining that trio is a host of former All-Americans, including current MSU-N assistant coaches Austin Ouelette (2009) and Dustyn Azure (2005), former Havre High great and CMR head coach Aaron Jensen (2006), longtime Havre resident Bobby Mantle (2003), recent Lights’ great Anthony Weerheim (2012) and Lights’ legend Rudy James (1997, 1999). Also expected to compete Saturday is Colt Heger, Wes Barrett and another former Havre High standout, Beau LaSalle.
The Alumni Dual kicks off a busy seven days for Northern. And with so many great wrestlers back to honor the proud Northern tradition, it’s a great way to kick of the season.
“We have a great tradition here,” Thivierge said. “And that’s what these young guys here are trying to do is keep that going. We have a lot of great guys coming back to compete on Saturday and it’s awesome to see that. It’s going to be a great dual and a really fun day.”
Thivierge expects to have between 12 and 14 matches Saturday. The Lights return to the mat on next Wednesday night for their annual Maroon/Gold Dual, then open the regular season next Friday against North Idaho College in Havre.
Note: For an in-depth look at the 2012-13 Lights wrestling team, see next week’s Havre Daily News.