Lights challenge UGF on the mat tonight in Great Falls
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George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor [email protected]
The Montana State University- Northern wrestling season is already several weeks old. But for all intensive purposes, things really start tonight in Great Falls. Tonight at 7, the No. 12 Lights will square off against the No. 4 University of Great Falls Argos at the McLaughlin Center at UGF in Montana's only instate college wrestling matchup. And while the rivalry has become heated since UGF reinstated sports almost seven years ago, recent history has not been kind to the Lights. Last year, UGF swept the Lights in convincing fashion, and Norther comes into tonight's dual with a talented but untested and young team under second-year head coach Tyson Thivierge. "This rivalry is great for the state," Thivierge said. "It doesn't matter which team is down and out, the matches are always close and it's a knock-down-drag-out. "We have a total of 15 freshmen, including three true freshmen, so we're starting at ground zero and rebuilding the program," Thivierge added. "When you have to throw a young wrestler in to fill some holes, it hurts their confidence a bit. You have a true freshman coming off a successful high school career going up against 21-22 year-olds, that's where you have to coach them up and let them know things happen for a reason." "I always have mixed emotions with this dual being that I went to school at MSU-Northern," Third-year UGF head coach Caleb Schaeffer, a former MSU-N national champion said. "The dual should be another great and exciting match. Tyson is great at motivating his wrestlers and getting them prepared, so they will be ready to go no matter the match-up." MSU-N comes into tonight's match with the Argos a little shorthanded. Senior Austin Ouelette, ranked third at 174 pounds is out with an injury. The Lights will likely forfeit that weight. But the heavyweight matches come at 184 and 197 pounds. Northern sophomore Evan Hinebauch ranked second nationally, will renew his ongoing rival with UGF's Michael French, ranked third in the NAIA at 184. The two have already put on some great matches over the last year-and-a-half, and French is 1-0 against Hinebauch this season. "The match of the night should be the rivalry between French and Hinebauch," Schaeffer said. "The matches are so close and they could go either way." At 197, MSU-N will send out No. 8 Evan Mattingly to square off against second-ranked Alex Calvi. Those two matches could make or break the Lights' chances tonight. Another match of interest could be at 133 pounds where Harlem native Chase Dirden will go for the Lights, possibly against UGF true freshman Myles Mazurkiewicz. The former Havre Blue Pony and two-time state champion has already made a big splash for the Argos this season. Sean Costello (125) or Ryan Shelstad (125), Steven Quesada (141), Joe Drinkwater (149), Tay Todd (157), Jim Smith (165) and Jim Eavenson (HWT) round out tonight's MSU-N lineup. Northern comes to Great Falls one night removed from a 27-15 loss to Northwest College in Powell' Wyo. And the Lights will stay on the road following tonight's dual, traveling to Spokane for the Spokane Open on Saturday. Tonight's dual between the Lights and Argos is scheduled to get underway at 7 at the McLaughlin Center in Great Falls.