There are a lot of great traditions involving the Montana State University-Northern wrestling program. And one of the best is the annual Alumni Dual.
Every year, the Lights kick off their season with a matchup against past greats from Northern’s storied program. And the tradition continues Saturday when the Lights host their 2013 Alumni Dual inside the Armory Gymnasium.
The dual is set to get under way at 3 p.m. Saturday, and it marks the beginning of the Lights’ competitive season. Northern won’t hold its first regular season dual until Oct. 26 when the Lights travel to North Idaho College, but Saturday’s dual, and the Maroon/Gold Dual, which is set for Oct. 17, will help prepare the Lights for their upcoming season – a season in which Northern will be a NAIA national title contender, coming off of last year’s third-place finish at the national tournament.
First things first though, and that’s Saturday’s battle with some of Northern’s All-Time greats. MSU-N head coach Tyson Thivierge has 10 matches slated for Saturday, including match feature three former NAIA national champions and seven NAIA All-Americans.
The returning national champions include the most recent in former Havre High star and MSU-N great Evan Hinebauch. A four-time All-American, Hinebauch captured the 184-pound national championship in 2011. Joining Hinebauch is one of the greatest to ever suit up for Northern in three-time national champion and four-time All-American Emmett Willson. The former great from Shepherd captured three straight national titles from 2002-2004, and is MSU-N’s all-time winningest wrestler.
Simon White, another three-time All-American and former NJCAA national champion is also slated to compete, while Northern’s only four-time national champ, Turk Lords, and 1998 NAIA national champion and longtime Havre resident Mike Leinwand will do the officiating during Saturday’s dual.
Saturday’s Alumni roster also includes Bobby Mantle, a now longtime Havre resident who earned All-American in 2003, as well as current Northern assistant Dustyn Azure, who was an All-American in 2001 and 2005. Austin Ouelette, who earned All-American honors in 2009, Anthony Weerheim, who was an All-American in 2010 and 2012 and Rudy James, an All-American in 1997 and 1999 round out the Alumni team.
And though Saturday’s Alumni Dual will be an exhibition, and is geared towards helping the Lights get, it’s also a very competitive matchup. The Alumni team always competes at a high level, though matches are shortened, and that competition always helps get the current Lights ready for the season.
The dual however, is also about fun and tradition. Northern’s wrestling program is steeped in history and tradition, and each year, the Alumni Dual honors that history and tradition and also brings past and present together. Saturday’s dual will once again do that.
“Things will be fun and exciting Saturday,” Thivierge said.
Saturday’s Alumni Dual is set for 3 p.m. at the Armory Gymnasium. Northern’s first home dual of the regular season is slated for Nov. 21 against Northwest College.