The Montana State University-Northern wrestling team wrapped up a lengthy road trip on Sunday in Reno, Nev., and the Lights will head into the holiday break for some much-needed rest.
The No. 4 Lights competed in the prestigious Reno Tournament of Champions Sunday – a tournament which features some of the top NCAA programs in the country. The Lights scored 31 points, and 184-pounder Kody Reed battled his way to an outstanding fourth-place finish individually. The tournament was won by Oregon State, and also featured stalwart teams like Michigan State, Boise State, North Carolina State, Stanford and many other top-tier programs. The Lights finished in 14th place overall, and was second among non-NCAA DI schools. Southern Oregon placed fifth with 87 points.
Reed paced the Lights by reaching the 184-pound quarterfinals before losing. He then won three straight matches in the wrestlebacks to reach the consolation final. There he fell to Michigan State’s John Rizqualla for the second time in the tournament. Still, it was an outstanding showing for the Northern standout, who’s ranked second in the NAIA.
MSU-N’s Max Payne won two matches to reach the 174-pound quarterfinals, before losing two straight matches. At 141 pounds, Hunter Azure looked sharp as well, going 2-2 on the day.
Perhaps the toughest draw of the tournament went to top-ranked Ethan Hinebauch at 165 pounds. Hinebauch drew the No. 1 seed in N.C. State’s Nijel Jones in the first round. After being pinned by Jones, Hinebauch had to turn around and wrestle the No. 2 seed, Appalachian State’s Zac Strickland in the first round of the consolation bracket, and Hinebauch walked away with an impressive 6-2 decision. Hinebauch lost in the next round to Cal-Bakersfield’s Derek Meza.
The Lights also got a 2-2 performance from Toby Cheff at 197 po9unds, while Eli Hinebauch, wrestling unattached, went 1-2 at 157.
The Lights will now be off until Jan. 12-13 when they attend the NAIA National Duals in Springfield, Ill. Northern has one home date left on its schedule, a Jan. 16 matchup with Western Wyoming.