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Lights meet Argos in mat rivalry


November 7, 2019

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Montana State University-Northern's Nick Kunz, top, wrestlers in the 2018 dual between the Lights and the Providence Argos last November in Havre. Tonight in Great Falls, the Lights and Argos meet for the first time in the 2019-2020 season.

In some sports, fans have to wait until deep into the season for their favorite rivalries. But, if you're a fan of one of the two collegiate wrestling programs in Montana, you never have to wait long.

Tonight in Great Falls, that rivalry will be renewed, and a new era will be ushered in, as well, as the Montana State University Northern Lights meet up with the University of Providence Argos.

The first of the two duals between the Lights and Argos will be held inside UP's McLaughlin Center tonight, and it's a matchup of the No. 16 (Argos) and No. 17 (Lights) ranked teams in the NAIA. It's also UP head coach Steve Komac's first dual as the man in charge of the Argos. Komac took over for Caleb Schaeffer before the season started, and before that, he was the highly successful head coach at Great Falls High.

"I think we will face a new challenge and a different mentality from the Argos," veteran head coach Tyson Thivierge said. "Under new leadership, things change, so we are going into this with our usual mentality."

The Lights mentality is always an aggressive one, no matter who they are wrestling and that won't change against the Argos, who Northern swept last season. And while UP has a new face as head coach, the Argos always put a tough lineup on the mat, and tonight will be no different. The Argos will be especially strong in the middle of their lineup, with veteran Shonn Roberts ranked No. 3 at 149 pounds and Casey Dobson ranked No. 2 at 157. The Argos will also lean on veteran 197-pounder John Hensley, who is ranked 7th, but will also have to face Northern's Isaac Bartel, ranked second, in what should be the biggest match of the dual.

The Lights, who will be open in duals at 165 pounds until the second semester, will counter Providence' tough middle portion of the lineup with excellent lower weights. Senior Rob Pair is ranked 11th at 125 pounds, while a pair of national qualifiers share the 133-pound spot in Landon Bailey (12th) and Nick Kunz (17th). At 141, NCAA transfer and former four-time state champion Clayton Currier will make his debut for the Lights tonight, while senior Tony Evans or freshman Lane Paulson could go at 149.

Thivierge also has options at 157, where either Brock Bushfield or Caden Hilliard could go, while junior Chase Short, ranked No. 15 is the top man at 174. At 184, the Lights send out newcomer Ethan Roteman tonight, while at heavyweight, either 12th-ranked Jase Stokes or former GFH star Rylan Moldenhauer will go.

And while the Northern/UP rivalry is big and seems to keep getting bigger, especially with the Lights using their turn to host the dual in February to move it to Billings where it will be wrestled the night before the All-Class State Tournament, Thivierge is also focused, especially this early in the season, on getting better, on improving and growing his team.

"Regardless of outcome, I'm expecting my guys to put it all on the line and wrestle hard for seven minutes," Thivierge said. "That's all we can ask as coaches, wrestle hard and be coachable. This will be another opportunity to make adjustments and get better for the season ahead of us."

Tonight's dual between the Lights and Argos starts at 7 inside the McLaughlin Center in Great Falls.


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