When the Montana State University-Northern wrestling team stepped on the mat against the Great Falls Argos on Nov. 14, the Lights knew they had a lot of wrestling in front of them. That stretch would take them through five duals in less than two weeks, as well as one tournament.
And when the dust settled, things went better than good for the No. 2 Lights. On Saturday, Northern dismantled Doane College and Simon Fraser University at the Cardinal Duals in Coeur d' Alene, Idaho, and things went just as good for the Lights in Sunday's Spokane Open, where Northern won two individual titles and placed nine grapplers overall.
"Overall the weekend was very successful for us, we moved to a solid 5-1 in dual meets and we are looking very solid as a tournament team," Northern head coach Tyson Thivierge said. "It would have been nice to have Kody Reed compete in the tournament, but we are continuing to rest him and get him ready for the Battle of the Rockies and the Reno TOC. Overall, I was pleased with the performance of the entire team. They really battled hard and again, like the duals, they were working on getting bonus points in every match."
Bonus points was the story of Northern's two duals on Saturday. The Lights didn't lose a single match in a 46-6 win over Doane, and they won six matches by pin and another by major decision. Thivierge also got some different wrestlers into the lineup, including Riley Miller, who won at 125 pounds, Doug O'Hara, who won at 133, Tommy Cooper, who won at 157 and Steve Conn, who was victorious at 184 pounds.
The trend of getting bonus points continued against NCAA Division II Simon Fraser. The Lights beat SFU 33-15 with a strong of pins by Cameron Neiss (141), Mickey Cheff (157), Ethan Hinebauch (165) and Jared Miller (174) leading the way. Toby Cheff added a pin at 197 pounds, and Duell Stadel picked up a key win at 133.
"It was nice to be able to get some new guys in the lineup and see how they would compete in the spotlight," Thivierge said. "Everyone had an exceptional attitude and we really took it to our opponents on Saturday for both meets. Every guy that stepped in took the fight to their opponent and what impressed me most is that we were not sitting on leads. We were building on them, getting near-falls, going for falls and all of those things are important building blocks to get extra points at tournaments, especially nationals. So that was great to see them go after it like that."
The Lights moved on to a successful Sunday in Spokane. At the Spokane Open, Northern saw nine wrestlers medal, with HInebauch winning a title at 165 pounds and Miller doing the same at 174. Both Mickey and Toby Cheff also reached the finals of their respective weight classes, before losing for the only time in the tourney.
Equally impressive is the fact that the two second-place finishes were the only losses Northern suffered in the medal round. Aaron LaFarge placed third at 125 pounds and Stadel won his last match to finish fifth. Neiss wound up third at 141 pounds, while Conn placed third at 184 pounds and DeMers finished third at 197.
Also competing on Sunday for the Lights was, Miller, who went 2-2, O'Hara, who went 1-2 at 133, Cooper, who went 1-2 at 157, Jones, Rico Paz, who went 3-2 at heavyweight, and Jorrell Jones, who went 1-2 at heavyweight.
"As for the tournament Sunday, we were able to get nine guys into the placing rounds and with the exception of having two guys place second, we didn't lose a medal match," Thivierge said. "We were 2-2 in the finals, both champs won by pin and that was big. Jared and Ethan combined for eight pins in their 10 matches. Those are huge points at the national tournament. We were a perfect 4-for-4 in the bronze medal matches and Duell won his fifth-place match."
The Lights will get some well-deserved rest after a hectic week. Northern will return to action Dec. 6-7 for the Battle of the Rockies in Great Falls.
Lights 46, Doane 6
125 – Riley Miller, MSU-N pinned Jesse Marek, 1:36; 133 – Doug O'Hara, MSU-N dec. John Larson, 5-1; 141 – Cameron Neiss, MSU-N pinned Ray Feigenbutt, 4:21; 149 – MSU-N lost br FFT; 157 – Tommy Cooper, MSU-N pinned Taylor Hamcock, 3:30; 165 – Ethan Hinebauch, MSU-N pinned Carlos Toledano, 2:11; 174 – Jared Miller, MSU-N pinned Austin Bome, 4:50; 184 – Steve Conn, MSU-N maj. dec. Chandler Knight, 10-2; 197 – Garrett DeMers, MSU-N pinned Kyle Hoffman, 1:08; HWT – Rico Paz, MSU-N dec. Reid Melani, 4-2.
Lights 33, Simon Fraser 15
125 – Skylor Davis, SFU dec. Aaron LaFarge, 7-0; 133 – Duell Stadel, MSU-N dec. Sukhan Chahal, 8-4; 141 – Cameron Neiss, MSU-N pinned Dillon Hume, 4:10; 149 – lost by FFT; 157 – Mickey Cheff, MSU-N pinned Josh Punzo, 2:37; 165 – Ethan Hinebauch, MSU-N pinned Brock Lamb, 6:37; 174 – Jared Miller, MSU-N pinned Reid Watkins, 4:14; 184 – Josh Kim, SFU dec. Steve Conn, 11-4; 197 – Toby Cheff, MSU-N pinned Ryan Yewchin, 2:05; HWT – Arjun Gill, SFU dec. Jorrell Jones, 3-2.