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George Ferguson Column: No matter how cold it is, you don't want to miss this winter at Northern

From the Fringe...


January 11, 2017

We, as Havreites, may be buried in snow, but it’s going to be awfully hot inside the Armory Gymnasium this weekend. That’s because all three of the Montana State University-Northern’s nationally ranked winter sports teams will be in action.

Fans, get your popcorn ready because your Lights and Skylights are on the national stage now.

Obviously, having both Northern basketball teams and the wrestling team ranked at the same time has happened before. In fact, it happened as recently as 2015. But, just because something has happened before doesn’t mean it is any less special the next time it happens.

And make no mistake, what’s going on right now with basketball and wrestling at Northern is indeed special.

Thursday night, the Lights’ wrestling team, currently ranked No. 5 in the NAIA, will wrestle at home for the final time. The Lights’ senior night dual against Dickinson State will be a good one, and it’s the final time Northern fans will get to watch this Lights squad that is gearing up for a run at a national championship, in Havre.

Thursday night’s dual will also be the last time anyone on the Hi-Line will get to watch former Chinook star, and now Northern senior Ben Stroh wrestle anywhere close to home. That’s going to be special in and of itself.

And what’s really special is how the Northern wrestling team, thanks to the guidance of head coach Tyson Thivierge, has become an NAIA powerhouse once again. Thivierge, a former national champion for the Lights, had a vision when he took over the program, and now, we’re seeing that vision come to fruition, and it’s a big part of what’s making winter sports at Northern so enjoyable.

Of course, like wrestling, basketball has also been a big part of winters at MSU-N, and this winter, it’s really big.

Every time the Northern women step on the floor, we’re seeing history, as the Skylights, currently ranked No. 11 in the NAIA, have grown into one of the most powerful programs, not just in the Frontier Conference, but the entire NAIA. Under 12th-year head coach Chris Mouat, Northern has gone to three straight national tournaments, and when it comes to national recognition, has been ranked inside the NAIA Top 25 in every poll since midseason of 2014. That’s an impressive run, and one that shouldn’t be taken for granted.

And the men’s team has joined the national party. The Lights, even with tough road losses last weekend, are off to one of their best starts in recent history. And given how much success they’ve had during head coach Shawn Huse’s tenure, that’s really saying something.

Northern is currently ranked No. 15 in the NAIA, and the Lights’ jump into the NAIA Top 25 last week means that all three winter sports programs at Northern are now Top 15 national teams. And all three of them are playing at home this weekend.

So, there you have it. Northern has something really special going on right now. I know, this winter isn’t feeling so special with how much snow is on the ground and how cold the air is outside. It’s getting the best of me, too.

But no matter where you live in Havre, I know it’s not far from the Armory Gymnasium. So get in your nice warm cars and get up to the Armory this weekend and see all three of your nationally ranked Northern teams. Because these types of things don’t come around all the time.

This winter is shaping up to be brutal outside, but on the Northern campus, and especially inside the Armory, it’s shaping up to be paradise.


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