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Young Lights come up short in Great Falls

Northern battles hard, but Argos strike the first blow in rivalry series


November 9, 2017

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Montana State University-Northern's Brandon Weber, right, takes down University of Providence' Casey Dobson during their thrilling overtime match Wednesday night in Great Falls. Weber won in overtime, but the Argos captured the dual, 25-15.

GREAT FALLS - Following their first dual of the season, Montana State University-Northern wrestling head coach Tyson Thivierge said he wasn't sure what type of dual team he was going to have this winter.

As it turns out though, the young Lights are pretty tough.

Northern, ranked 17th in the NAIA Coaches Preseason Poll, started three true freshmen in a 25-15 loss to the third-ranked University of Providence Argos Wednesday night inside the McLaughlin Center. And while the Lights may have come up short on the scoreboard, including having to forfeit six points at heavyweight, they showed what the immediate future holds.

"I'm excited by what I saw tonight," Thivierge said. "There are a lot of positives to take away from this. We had guys wrestle really well. Our older guys went out and did exactly what we expected them to do.

"And in some of the other matches, we had some young guys make some really small mistakes," he continued, "and those matches were the difference. But the great thing is, even those mistakes, those guys know exactly why they happened and they'll work hard to correct them. So I'm pretty excited about this dual."

Right away, Northern was engaged with the Argos, who have seven grapplers currently ranked in the NAIA. Among them was No. 11 Isaac Wilson, and yet Northern true freshman Nick Kunz got off to a great start against Wilson and was knotted up at 4-4 in the second period, before getting caught in a reversal that ended up leading to a pin. Providence followed that up with Eli Walston outlasting MSU-N's Rob Pair, who moved up to wrestle at 133, in what was a 15-14 decision.

Down 9-0, and knowing six more points would be added in the heavyweight match, the Lights didn't fold, however. Matt Weber got a pin at 141 pounds, and one match later, Brandon Weber pulled off an impressive feat of endurance in a 6-0 victory over UP's Casey Dobson.

Weber, ranked No. 1 at 157 pounds, and Dobson, ranked No. 7, were expected to put on a show and they did. The match was tied at 1-1 at the end of regulation, and neither wrestler scored a take down in the first sudden victory overtime. Next, they both held on to their positions in their respective 30-second chances to win on escapes, and so the match went back to SVO. One minute later, neither had scored, so again it went back to escapes. Weber was first and hung on for dear life for 30 more seconds, and then came his chance to finally seal the win. He did just that by getting away from Dobson with a mere 10 seconds left on the clock. The six overtimes was certainly the highlight of the night, and the win pulled MSU-N to 13-9.

Northern's momentum continued as Andrew Bartel technically dominated Gage Bentley at 165, but the next two matches decided the dual. True freshman and Great Falls High standout, Chase Short lost an 11-5 decision to seventh-ranked Adrian Lyons-Lopez, and the Argos put the dual away at 184 pounds when Justin Harbison knocked off Steeler French at 184 pounds.

"One thing I saw is we need some guys to wrestle with more confidence right away," Thivierge said. "Rob Pair, Chase Short, those guys just weren't confident from the start. They gained confidence as the matches went on, but those guys need to go out there with the belief in themselves right away. That's something we need to do a better job of going forward."

Confidence isn't something true freshman Isaac Bartel lacked. The Northern 197-pounder was making his first start in the rivalry between the Lights and Argos, and all he did was go out and beat fourth-ranked John Hensley. Bartel scored an early takedown, and then dominated the third period on his way to a 9-5 decision, closing out the dual on a high note for the Lights.

"He's special," Thivierge said of the younger Bartel. "He isn't wrestling like a freshman right now. He's got great skills, he's not just strong, but he's very technical. He's really offensive, takes great shots and knows how to score. That's rare for a guy at that weight."

Bartel's win gave Northern four victories in the nine matches that were contested in what was a very good, and well-wrestled dual on both sides, especially for how early it is in the season. And it left Thivierge knowing that his young team, will only get better, and will likely be much more seasoned by the time the Argos come to Havre for the rematch in February.

"This was our first dual, and we've got a lot of young guys," Thivierge said. "So I really didn't know what to expect, I wasn't sure what kind of dual team we were going to be. And I knew they (Argos) were very tough, so I was looking forward to seeing how we would respond. And I thought we were close. The scoreboard may not show that, but I thought we were right there. A couple of matches turn out differently and we're right there.

"So I'm really excited about what I saw tonight," he continued. "We have work to do, sure. And that's what we'll do, we'll go right back to work and strive to get better."

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Northern's Isaac Bartel, right, works on Providence' John Hensley during Wednesday night's dual in Great Falls. Bartel won their 197-pound bout.

The Lights get right back in on the action, too, as they travel to the Trapper Open Sunday in Wyoming. Northern is set to make its home debut next Thursday when the Lights host Cascade Conference rival, Warner Pacific.

Argos 25, Lights 15

125 - Isaac Wilson, UP pinned Nick Kunz, MSU-N, 4:24; 133 - Eli Walston, UP dec. Rob Pair, MSU-N, 15-14; 141 - Matt Weber, MSU-N pinned Jarren Komac, UP, 5:26; 149 - Shonn Roberts, UP maj. dec. Dylan Veis, MSU-N, 11-2; 157 - Brandon Weber, MSU-N dec. Casey Dobson, UP, 2-1 in 6OT; 165 - Andrew Bartel, MSU-N dec . Gage Bentley, UP, 6-2; 174 - Adrian Lysons-Lopez, UP dec. Chase Short, MSU-N, 11-5; 184 - Justin Harbison, UP dec. Steeler French, MSU-N, 10-4; 197 - Isaac Bartel, MSU-N dec. John Hensley, UP, 9-5; HWT - Matt Hopkins wins by FFT.


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