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MSU-N grapplers crush EOU

Lights win Cascade road dual, score points at Reno TOC


December 18, 2017

The Montana State University-Northern Lights were on the road for their final competitions of 2017 this past week. And the Lights got things started with a bang.

Thursday night, Northern was in LaGrande, Oregon, to take on the Eastern Oregon Mounties in a Cascade Conference showdown. The Lights, ranked 12th in the NAIA, and the Mounties, ranked 18th, have plenty of history, despite EOU being just a second-year program. The Mounties are led by former Northern All-American and Tyson Thivierge assistant Dustyn Azure, and they also have two former Lights in their lineup.

But history didn’t mean much Thursday night as the Lights walked all over EOU in a 30-6 victory, which included a huge win by freshman Nick Kunz right at the start. Kunz was facing former Light Mhar Caballa, who is currently ranked No. 7 at 125 pounds, but it was Kunz who earned an exciting 5-4 decision, setting the tone for the rest of the dual.

Brandon Weber also picked up a win at 141 pounds, while Brennon Veis did the same at 149, and Andrew Bartel rolled to an 8-1 win at 165 pounds. Chris Nile also got the Lights bonus points at 174, while freshman Chase Short moved up to 184 and picked up a major decision. Steeler French and Isaac Bartel also bumped up for the dual, with French winning at 197 pounds and Bartel winning at heavyweight. In another exciting match, former Light Drake Randall upset top-ranked Brandon Weber at 157 pounds, but throughout the dual the Mounties were no match for the Lights.

Following the dual with the Mounties, the Lights headed south to Reno, Nevada, for one of the biggest college wrestling tournaments of the year, the prestigious Reno Tournament of Champions. The Reno field is always deep with some of the NCAA’s top teams, and Sunday’s tournament was no different as North Carolina State, Wyoming, Oregon State, Missouri, North Dakota State, Campbell and Cal Poly were among the top teams. Add in the likes of Stanford, wrestlers from Oklahoma State, and a ton of NCAA DII’s and some of the best in the west from the NAIA and NJCAA and the brackets at the Reno TOC are as good as it gets.

And several Lights made plenty of strides in Sunday’s tournament, including Matt Weber at 141 pounds, who reached Round 16, and went 3-2 on the day, including a win over Southern Oregon rival Devan Poppen. Freshman Isaac Bartel went one round further, reaching the Quarterfinals before falling to a standout from Cal Poly.

At 157 pounds, Brandon Weber was 2-2 for the Lights, reaching Round 32 before running into an N.C. State grappler. Weber also beat a key SOU rival during his 2-2 day. At 165, Andrew Bartel captured a win for the Lights, while Dylan Veis won twice in the wrestlebacks at 149 pounds. Chris Nile and Chase Short each won one match at 174, while Landon Bailey won a match in the 133-pound bracket.

As a team, the Lights scored 17 points, and while that doesn’t seem like much, they finished in 26th place in a field that included 51 scoring teams. Northern was third amongst NAIA teams in the tournament.

The Lights will now be off for the holidays, and they’ll return to the mat with their second home dual of the season, Jan. 4 when they host arch rival Southern Oregon.

Lights 30, Eastern Oregon 6

125: Nick Kunz (MSN) over Mhar Caballa (EOU) (Dec 5-4) 133: Blake McNall (EOU) over Landon Bailey (MSN) (Dec 6-4) 141: Matt Weber (MSN) over AJ Rockwell (EOU) (Dec 4-3) 149: Brennon Veis (MSN) over Jacob Posey (EOU) (Dec 3-1) 157: Drake Randall (EOU) over Brandon Weber (MSN) (Dec 7-5) 165: Andrew Bartel (MSN) over Marco Retano (EOU) (Dec 8-1) 174: Chris Nile (MSN) over Jacob Dupuis (EOU) (TF 16-1 0:00) 184: Chase Short (MSN) over Keegan Dorsey (EOU) (MD 14-6) 197: Steeler French (MSN) over Braeden Phillips (EOU) (Dec 10-3) 285: Isaac Bartel (MSN) over Taben Mansarey (EOU) (Dec 8-1) (MSN 165, 197 and 285 were all major decisions in favor of MSUN 3.00).


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