The rivalry between the Montana State University-Northern wrestling team and the Great Falls Argos just keeps getting bigger and bigger.
And tonight, the second in
stallment of the 2012-13 clash between the Lights and Argos will take place in Great Falls. It’s the highest both teams have ever been ranked head-to-head as the Lights come to the McLaughlin Center ranked No. 4 while UGF is No. 3 in the NAIA. The dual will also feature four No.1-ranked wrestlers, including two Havre Blue Ponies, and overall, the two team’s could send out a combined 14 nationally-ranked wrestlers between them tonight.
The stakes are also high as the postseason is drawing near, and the tension in Great Falls could be at an all-time high considering Northern has won the last two meetings with the Argos, including a thrilling 21-20 comeback win back on Dec. 4 at the Armory Gymnasium.
However, Northern head coach Tyson Thivierge is hoping his team gets around all the hype and wrestles well in every match. He says, if the Lights do that, everything else will take care of itself.
“Our guys are very hungry and very excited to get back on the mat and compete,” Thivierge said, noting MSU-N has had the last two weeks off. “To us, we know this is a rivalry, but we are just focusing on stepping on the mat and wrestling to the best of our ability. We are blocking out the fact that it is UGF and we just want to go put our best matches together and build towards regionals and nationals.”
The Lights will try to block out the rivalry aspect tonight, but that will be a daunting task. The dual is always intense and tonight’s battle should be at an all-time high in front of an expected large crowd in Great Falls.
As for the matchups themselves, every one will be a mini-battle inside the dual.
The Lights have two top-ranked wrestlers in junior Ethan Hinebaugh, who will battle sixth-ranked Shaun Lau at 165 pounds, as well as Kody Reed, who ranked No. 1 at 184 pounds and will take on UGF’s Adam Wolfe. Both Hinebauch and Reed were victorious against UGF back in December.
UGF will counter with top-ranked Myles Mazurkiewicz at 141 pounds and Mike Vasser 149. Mazurkiewicz, a former Blue Pony great, has yet to lose to an NAIA opponent this season, and he’ll rematch with Northern’s Hunter Azure, who’s ranked seventh at 141. Mazurkiewicz beat Azure by pin in Havre. Vasser will take on Northern’s Trevor Goss tonight, while he moved up and edged Mickey Cheff in the first meeting.
The Lights will be open at heavyweight tonight, and for the remainder of the season, while critical matchups will be at 174 and 197 pounds. Max Payne is ranked second for the Lights at 174 and he’ll take on 11th-ranked Taylor Vaughn, while MSU-N’s Toby Cheff has moved up to No. 6 and will battle 16th-ranked Dylan Lemery at 197.
Northern will look to get the dual off on the right foot with either 8th-ranked Aaron LaFarge or Duell Stadel going against either Luke Schlosser of Danny Luttrell of UGF. MSU-N will send out sixth-ranked Cameron Neiss at 133 to wrestle Eric Bergerson, while UGF has second-ranked Ryan Leonard taking on Mickey Cheff at 157.
And getting the dual started isn’t the only objective for the Lights, who should have the upper-hand in the upper weight classes. Thivierge also wants to see his team wrestle better early in each match.
“We just need to be aggressive for seven minutes and build on leads,” Thivierge said. “Too often we give up the first takedown before we come alive and we have been working very hard on not allowing that to happen.”
Building leads, getting bonus points and overcoming the intensity of the rivalry will be paramount for both teams. The Lights and Argos have put together a great strong of duals against each other in recent years, and tonight’s finale for the season shouldn’t be any different.
“I personally know this will be a battle, and it will be close regardless of matchups,” Thivierge said. “That is what this dual has been producing. Both squads are very tough and very talented, but we just want to continue to build so we peak at the right time. I am very much looking forward to the dual and I know Coach (Caleb) Schaeffer is also. It will be a tight match and both squads will be ready to roll.”
Tonight’s dual between the Lights and Argos will start at 7 inside the McLaughlin Center in Great Falls. Fans can watch the dual online by going to www.msun.edu/athletics.