The Montana State University-Northern wrestling team is short some matches.
And that makes tonight’s dual with the Northwest College Trappers a big deal as the Lights return to the mat for the first time in almost two weeks. The No. 12 Lights host the Trappers tonight at 7 at the Armory Gymnasium. Northwest College comes to Havre tonight having faced the UGF Argos Wednesday night in Great Falls.
Meanwhile, the Lights haven’t wrestled since a trip to the Cowboy Open two weeks ago in Laramie, Wyo. Northern was set to compete at the Trapper Open last weekend in Powell, Wyo., but winter storm Brutus cancelled those plans.
So the Lights, who are 1-1 in duals so far this season, are looking forward to getting back on the mat tonight.
“This is going to be a good test for us,” MSU-N head coach Tyson Thivierge said. “Northwest has been really performing well and we missed an opportunity to get some heads up matches with them due to the weather last weekend. We have to be on point for the nine matches contested and we better wrestle for seven minutes.”
The Lights should be favored to beat the NJCAA Trappers tonight, but nothing will be taken for granted. The Trappers are ranked No. 11 in all of NJCAA and boast five wrestlers who are nationally ranked.
The Trappers are strong at 125 pounds, with Cody Vichi ranked No. 6. Vichi will take on Havre’s Duell Stadel tonight in a key opening match. The Lights will forfeit at 133 pounds, then send out 11th-ranked Hunter Azure to face Northwest’s Zac Loveless at 141. At 149 pounds, MSU-N’s Trevor Goss will face Kyle McCormick, while sixth-ranked Mickey Cheff will battle 12th-ranked Colton Thornton at 157.
In the upper weights, Northern will pit top-ranked Ethan Hinebauch, who has just one loss on the season, against Northwest’s Siorian Coleman at 165 pounds, while sixth-ranked Max Payne will battle Randy Andrews at 174. The Trappers are slated to forfeit at 184 pounds, though they do have No.1-ranked Miles Nixon on their roster.
Toby Cheff, who’s off to a hot start for the Lights, will battle Northwest’s Braden Gibson at 187 pounds and true freshman Tucker Erickson will take on Jade Parson of Northwest to round out the dual at heavyweight.
And with a tough stretch looming for the Lights, including their first dual with rival UGF being less than a month away, tonight’s dual against the Trappers is a chance for Northern to continue to improve and advance.
“It’s time to start stepping up every time we are on the mat or it will be a long season,” Thivierge said. “I believe we are ready but we will see Thursday night.”
Tonight’s dual between the Lights and Trappers gets under way at 7 at the Armory Gymnasium. MSU-N will travel to Spokane for Sunday’s Inland Northwest Collegiate Tournament.