There have certainly been dramatic duals between the Montana State University-Northern Lights and the University of Great Falls Argos recently, but the powerful Lights decided to take the drama out of their most recent meeting with their arch rival.
A pin by sophomore Duell Stadel to start the match, and a technical fall by sophomore Toby Cheff near the end of it ensured the No. 2 Lights of a runaway victory over the No. 6 Argos Thursday night at the McLaughlin Center in Great Falls. Northern’s 26-15 win was its fourth straight in the series against UGF.
“I’m really pleased with everybody’s performance tonight,” MSU-N head coach Tyson Thivierge said. “This early in the season, we’re not going to have our A-game yet. But we still were able to fight and scrap tonight. The guys wrestled really hard, competed really hard and they came away with a good victory.”
Stadel started things off for Northern in dominant fashion. Tied with 125-pound rival Luke Schlosser at 2-2 early in the second period, Stadel earned a lightning-quick takedown, then put Schlosser on his back for an early win by fall. And though UGF rebounded with a win by Michael Ruiz in the 133-pound match, the Argos, who are battling injury problems, were forced to forfeit to Cameron Neiss at 141 pounds, and from there, Northern cruised to the finish line.
“That was a great start by Duell,” Thivierge said. “It was the kind of start we needed. And Aaron LaFarge went out wrestled his butt off against a very talented 133-pounder. I thought he wrestled great, even in a loss.
“You know, we’ve been on the other end of those scores, where the final score looks like a blowout, but the matches were close,” he added. “And that was what tonight’s dual was like. There were a lot of matches that went right down to the wire, and we were able to come out on top in most of them. It was a really competitive dual.”
UGF kept things close for a moment as star Ryan Martin pinned MSU-N’s Hunter Azure in the 149-pound bout, but from there, it was all Lights. Mickey Cheff pulled off a critical 4-2 decision over nationally-ranked Chad Cebulski at 157 pounds, then, second-ranked Ethan Hinebauch battled his way to a technically proficient win over UGF’s Nick Schmidt. The back-to-back decisions gave MSU-N a solid cushion, and junior Jared Miller added to that cushion with a hard-fought 5-2 decision over Taylor Vaughn at 174 pounds.
Northern had built up a 21-9 lead when UGF star Kameron Jackson picked up a 5-0 decision over Kody Reed at 184 pounds, but MSU-N sophomore Toby Cheff slammed the door shut on the Argos with an 18-3 win by technical fall at 197. Cheff’s win over Sheldon Page was reminiscent of last February when he clinched a dual over the Argos in Havre. He was dominant, with takedowns from start-to-finish, and the win Thursday night gave UGF no hope of a comeback, though the Argos closed the dual with Dylan Lemery’s 7-6 win over Northern freshman Jorrell Jones in the heavyweight match.
“I’m happy with how everybody performed,” Thivierge said. “We’re getting better every time we step on the mat, and that’s all I can ask for right now. And it’s nice to be able to see that improvement, and come out on top in this dual.”
Now, with a win over UGF secured, the Lights will prepare to make their long-awaited home debut. Next Thursday, Northern hosts Northwest College and Western Region rival Southern Oregon in a double dual at the Armory Gymnasium. The rematch between the Lights and Argos is set for Feb. 6.
Lights 26, UGF 15
125-Duell Stadell, MSUN, p. Like Schlosser 4:22; 133-Michael Ruiz, UGF, d. Aaron LaFarge 9-4; 141-Cameron Neiss, MSUN, by forfeit; 149-Ryan Martin, UGF, p. Hunter Azure 2:48; 157-Mickey Cheff, MSUN, d. Chad Cebulski 4-2; 165-Ethan Hinebauch, MSUN, d. Nick Schmidt 16-10; 174-Jared Miller, MSUN, d. Taylor Vaughn 5-2; 184-Kamron Jackson, UGF, d. Kody Reed 5-0; 197-Toby Cheff, MSUN tf. Sheldon Page 18-3; 285-David Lopez, UGF, d. Jorell Jones 7-6.