Normally, the final home dual of the season is also senior night. But the Montana State University-Northern wrestling, being a young team on the verge, doesn’t have any seniors. So instead of being an emotionally-charged senior night, the Lights’ matchup with Western Wyoming will just be emotionally charged.
Tonight, the fourth-ranked NAIA Lights battle Western Wyoming, the 14th-ranked team in the NJCAA, in what will be the Lights’ final home dual of 2013. The action gets under way at 7 inside the Armory Gymnasium.
And though the Lights won’t be honoring any departing seniors tonight, there will be plenty to get up for according to Northern head coach Tyson Thivierge.
The Lights are coming off a somewhat disappointing 1-2 performance at the NAIA National Duals last weekend in Springfield, Ill. Northern, the No. 4 seed in the tournament, started strong with a first-round win over Cumberlands, but then the Lights dropped two straight duals, falling short of placing in the top four.
So, as Northern returns to action tonight, Thivierge is hoping for a much better result.
“The only thing I can say coming off this weekend is that we have to be more consistent and more aggressive for seven minutes than we were in Illinois. We started the tournament looking extremely tough and then took our foot off the pedal,” Thivierge said.
Consistency will be key for the Lights tonight against a tough Western Wyoming squad. While MSU-N brings in a host of highly-ranked wrestlers, the Mustangs have plenty of NJCAA firepower as well. Five of Western’s grapplers are nationally-ranked, including sophomore Ross Taylor, who’s ranked fifth at 174 pounds. Taylor will go head-to-head tonight with Northern’s Max Payne, who’s ranked No. 2 at 174.
And there are plenty of other intriguing matchups tonight. At 141 pounds, Northern’s Hunter Azure is ranked ninth and he’ll take on 8th-ranked Mario Luna. At 157 pounds, MSU-N’s Mickey Cheff will battle 6th-ranked Scott Verner, and at 197, MSU-N’s Toby Cheff, ranked eighth will take on Riley Argyle, who’s ranked 11th for the Mustangs.
The dual will start with Northern sophomore Aaron LaFarge, who jumped all the way to No. 5 in the NAIA last week taking on Adrian Avelar at 125 pounds. At 133, 7th-ranked Cameron Neiss will face off with Western’s Caleb Walker, while Northern’s Trevor Goss will battle Dillon Karajanis at 149 pounds. Top-ranked Ethan Hinebauch will face off with Western’s Dixon Richins at 165 pounds, and the dual will round out with Northern forfeiting the heavyweight spot tonight.
And while Western being a tough team is enough to motivate the Lights tonight, the fact that a large crowd will show up to see the Lights on last time in Havre will only add to the atmosphere inside the Armory.
“We need to step it up a notch,” Thivierge said. “We need to more consistent at this point in the season.”
Tonight’s dual between the Lights and Mustangs starts at 7 in the Armory Gymnasium. There will be a brief intermission at 157 pounds. Northern will travel to Powell, Wyo., Thursday to take on the Northwest College Trappers, then travel to Dickinson, N.D. For the DSU Open Saturday.