Opening the season at home, the Montana State University-Northern wrestling team didn’t quite achieve the level of success it was hoping to.
Instead, the No. 12 Lights looked rusty in their season debut.
Wrestling at the Armory Gymnasium in Havre, in their newly acquired wrestling room, Northern struggled against the visiting North Idaho College Cardinals. The Cardinals defeated the Lights 25-18.
“North Idaho is always dangerous,” MSU-N head coach Tyson Thivierge said. “And this is a good test for us to start the year. But I am absolutely disgusted in our performance tonight, and I am not going to sugar coat it. We were out wrestled in our own in gym, and in our own wrestling room.
“I am tired of telling them to be believers,” Thivierge added. “They are not believers as of yet and they need to get there. As coaches we put it in their heads all the time, and that was a factor tonight. We didn’t believe in ourselves, we didn’t believe in our conditioning, and we had four-year veterans making mistakes at the end of periods and at the end of matches. But is a long season and they are going to improve, but we don’t like to come out of the chute like this.”
For a while, it looked as if the Cardinals were going to run away with the dual.
North Idaho snapped off five straight wins and quickly led 22-0. Starting at 125 pounds, Brock Banta pinned Northern’s Duell Stadel in 2:48, while the lights followed with a forfeit loss at 133-pounds. Then, No. 11 Cameron Neiss was upset in a 6-3 decision at 141 pounds, and Trevor Goss lost an 11-0 major decision at 149 pounds.
Sixth-ranked Micky Cheff (157) was also upset in the Lights’ poor start, as the Cardinals’ Nico Moreno ran away with the 13-9 decision.
Fortunately for the Lights, No. 1-ranked Ethan Hinebauch (165) was able to stop the slide. Hinebauch dominated Jake Mason, jumping out to a 6-2 lead in the first period. But Hinebauch didn’t have to wrestle for long, as he earned a win by fall in 1:56.
The Lights trailed 22-6, but still had a shot at winning the dual overall. With four matches remaining Northern needed to win out, but failed to do so as Max Payne was upset at 174 pounds in a 12-6 decision loss. Kody Reed (184), Toby Cheff (197), and true freshman Tucker Erickson (285) did earn wins for the Lights to close out the dual, but it wasn't enough.
Reed had to overcome a 7-0 deficit in the first period to get his 10-9 decision win, while Toby Cheff pinned the opposition in 2:50. Erickson also battled for his win, as he found himself tied 3-3 with the Cardinals’ Bryan Smith after one period. Erickson and Smith were then tied 4-4 late in the third, before Erickson grabbed a match-winning take down with just three seconds remaining in the match. Erickson won the match with a 6-4 decision.
MSU-N battled late, but couldn’t overcome the slow start to the dual. And while some individuals wrestled well, the team has a lot to improve on moving forward.
“I think it was good to wrestle here, in our own room,” Hinebauch said. “But we were trying to shake some of the rust off because all we have done is the Alumni Dual and our inner squad. But the first dual is always the toughest, and North Idaho always brings in a lot of tough recruits. We all made some mistakes, and I think we just have to work on what we did wrong and add it to what we did right, and hopefully move on.”
The Lights will get back on the mat when they face Western Wyoming Community College in Wyoming on Thursday. From there, the Lights will also compete at the Cowboy Open in Laramie Wyoming on Saturday.
North Idaho 25, Lights 18
125 – Brock Banta, NIC, pinned Duell Stadel, 2:48; 133 – Michael Rodriguez, NIC, won by forfeit; 141 – Jarrett Morrell, NIC, dec. Cameron Neiss 6-3; 149 – Jeremy Golding, NIC, maj. dec. Trevor Goss 11-0; 157 – Nico Moreno, NIC, dec. Micky Cheff 13-9; 165 – Ethan Hinebauch, MSU-N, pinned Jake Mason 1:56; 174 – Kyle Sweedman, NIC, dec. Max Payne 12-6; 184 – Kody Reed, MSU-N, dec. 10-9; 197 – Toby Cheff, MSU-N, pinned Jacob Turek 2:50; 285 – Tucker Erickson, MSU-N, dec. Bryan Smith 6-4.