For the second straight week, the Montana State University-Northern wrestling team found itself locked in an intense dual with an NAIA powerhouse. But on the road, the Lights couldn’t quite get over the hump this time around.
In a huge NAIA showdown Thursday night in Ashland, Ore., the No. 4 Lights came up just short against No. 2 Southern Oregon, 25-18 in what was as exciting a dual as there has been in the NAIA this season.
The dual pitted several of the top wrestlers in the NAIA against each other, including great matchups at 133 and 174 pounds. Northern got the best of the Red Raiders at 174 as third-ranked Max Payne out-wrestled top-ranked Brock Gutches, a returning national champion, 15-12. Payne had to come back from deficits several times in one of the best matches of the season. But the Lights’ third-ranked Cameron Neiss dropped a 3-0 heartbreaker to No.1-ranked Prescott Garner earlier in the night.
Top-ranked Ethan Hinebauch helped Northern win three straight matches as he pinned arch rival Derek Mastrovich at 165 pounds. Second-ranked Kody Reed also captured a late, 5-4 decision at 184 pounds, scoring a takedown in the final :15, and the Lights led the Red Raiders 18-16 with two matches left. But SOU battled back as MSU-N’s Toby Cheff was pinned at 197 pounds, while freshman Tucker Erickson lost a close, 5-3 decision in the heavyweight match.
Northern’s other win on the night came by way of Hunter Azure, who pinned Tanner Canaday in the 141-pound match. SOU’s top-ranked Mitchell Lofstedt, a two-time national champion, won a major decision over Duell Stadel at 125, while No.1-ranked Jimmy Eggemeyer pinned Trevor Goss at 149. In another showdown of ranked grapplers, Northern’s Mickey Cheff lost a tough, 8-5 decision to SOU’s Dalton Urritia.
“Overall, we proved that we are a team to be reckoned with,” MSU-N head coach Tyson Thivierge said. “We are definitely in the hunt and need to continue to build on this ride we are on. Our guys are now ready to get back on track tomorrow night.”
The Lights remain on the road to dual Simpson College tonight in California. MSU-N will also wrestle in the Reno Tournament of Champions on Sunday.
Southern Oregon 25, Lights 18
125 – (SOU) #1 Mitchell Lofstedt maj. dec. Duell Stadel, 14-3; 133 – (SOU) #1 Prescott Garner dec. #3 Cameron Neiss, 3-0; 141 – (MSUN) #10 Hunter Azure fall Tanner Canaday, 3:24; 149 – (SOU) #1 Jimmy Eggemeyer fall Trevor Goss, 0:46; 157 – (SOU) #8 Dalton Urrutia dec. #16 Micky Cheff, 8-5; 165 – (MSUN) #1 Ethan Hinebauch fall Derek Mestrovich, 1:43; 174 – (MSUN) #3 Max Payne dec. #1 Brock Gutches, 15-12; 184 – (MSUN) #2 Koby Reed dec. Jacob Abrams, 5-4; 197 – (SOU) #6 Taylor Johnson fall #9 Toby Cheff, 1:21; 285 – (SOU) Tanner Marval dec. Tucker Erickson, 5-3.