A week ago, the Montana State University-Northern wrestling team had its longest and most difficult road trip of the season. A week later, the Lights shined.
Northern took to the air to travel to Prescott, Ariz., this weekend for the Mile High Duals and Mile High Open, hosted by NAIA powerhouse Embry-Riddle University.
On Friday, the Lights went a stellar 2-1 in dual action against three NCAA schools. The Lights opened the duals with a 28-16 win over former NAIA power Cal Baptist. The Lights then lost to NCAA DII stalwart Grand Canyon by a score of 28-15 before coming back to beat NCAA DIII's New Mexico Highlands 28-17. Anthony Weerheim and Ethan Hinebauch both went a solid 3-0 for the Lights on Friday.
But the big success came Saturday as the Lights finished second in the Mile High Open. It was the eighth-ranked Lights top finish in a tournament format this season.
"I feel like we finally took a leap forward and got back on track with how we were competing during the first semester," MSU-N head coach Tyson Thivierge said. " We did lose against Grand Canyon, but I can't complain about the way we competed. Grand Canyon is a quality NCAA Division II team and I do believe that we could have won that dual. The score does not represent how well we competed against them."
Individually, the Lights found plenty of success as three Northern grapplers won Mile High titles. Weerheim captured first at 141 pounds, Ethan Hinebauch captured his first carrer title at 165 pounds and Jared Miller won at 174.
Two more Lights reached championship bouts as Evan Hinebauch and Max Payne both turned in second-place finishes. The Lights also got a pair of thirds from heavyweight Nick King and 157-pounder Mickey Cheff, while Riley Miller took fourth at 125 pounds and Cameron Neiss placed fourth at 133.
"In regards to the tournament, I felt we were wrestling to make a statement," Thivierge said. "It was a small tournament, but I believe that we were extremely dominant. It was exciting to see us back in form again.
After nearly two months on the road, the Lights will finally return home for a dual Thursday night against the Northwest College Trappers. The dual is set to begin at 7 p.m. at the MSU-Northern Fieldhouse.