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Right Back on the Mat: Lights host NIC


November 1, 2018

Colin Thompson

Montana State University-Northern's Andrew Bartel, left, takes down an Eastern Oregon opponent during last Friday night's dual in Havre. The Lights are back in the Armory Gymnasium tonight to face the North Idaho Cardinals. The dual starts at 7 p.m.

The Montana State University-Northern Lights got their 2018-19 season off to a very good start. Now, the Lights want to keep the momentum going.

To do that, however, third-ranked Northern will have to topple a bitter rival tonight inside the Armory Gymnasium when the Lights tangle with junior college powerhouse North Idaho College. The dual is set for 7.

“They’re tough,” Northern head coach Tyson Thivierge said of the Cardinals. “They’re always tough. They always give us a really tough dual, and this team they’re bringing will be no different.”

No doubt, the Cardinals are tough. They are, and have been, one of the top teams in the NJCAA for a long, long time. And they’re predicted to be again this season. A year ago, NIC had four NJCAA All-Americans, and two of them are back for another season in 125-pounder Esco Walker and 184-pounder Levi Perry.

Of course, the Lights have plenty of firepower, too, bringing nine ranked wrestlers to the mat. Nick Kunz leads things off at 125, where he’s ranked ninth, followed by Landon Bailey, ranked 15th at 133 pounds, and Matt Weber, ranked first 141. Northern newcomer Tony Evans is the starter at 149, and he’ll most certainly be ranked when the first regular season coaches poll comes out next month, while Brandon Weber mans the 157-pound spot. He’s ranked second in the NAIA.

In the upper weights, the Lights have Andrew Bartel ranked first at 165 pounds, and Chris Nile (4th) and Chase Short (18th) at 174. Nile will get the start tonight. Steeler French is ranked 14th at 184 pounds, but older brother Jake will get the start against the Cardinals, while Isaac Bartel is ranked second at 197. Jase Stokes should also be set to make his dual lineup debut tonight at heavyweight.

And while the Lights are gunning for a big win over NIC tonight, this week also marks the start of the tournament slate for Northern. A host of MSU-N grapplers will be in action Saturday in Laramie, Wyoming, when the Lights take part in the NCAA Division I Cowboy Open. The Lights head right back to Wyoming for the Trapper Open next Saturday before returning home for their big home dual against the Providence Argos Nov. 14.

Tonight’s dual between the Lights and North Idaho is set to start at 7 inside the Armory Gymnasium.


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