The Montana State University-Northern wrestling team wanted to finish its home schedule in dominant fashion. The Lights were also unhappy with the way they performed at last weekend’s NAIA National Duals.
And the Lights took that unhappiness out on the Western Wyoming Mustangs.
Northern, the fourth-ranked team in the NAIA won seven matches by bonus points against the 14th-ranked NJCAA Mustangs in the Lights’ final home dual of the season Wednesday night at the Armory Gymnasium. The Lights lost just two matches on the mat in a 35-15 win.
“I was pretty happy with how we wrestled,” MSU-N head coach Tyson Thivierge said. “We racked up the bonus points and that was nice to see. We got some pins in the third period and that was really good to see because it shows our guys were willing to dig deep. We have some things still to clean up and we’re working on those things. But we definitely improved tonight, and throughout the lineup, I thought we wrestled pretty well.”
Northern had to shuffle its lineup for the dual against the Mustangs. Thivierge held out 141-pounder Hunter Azure due to some minor injuries, so Duell Stadel moved back into the lineup at 125, and Aaron LaFarge and Cameron Neiss each moved up a weight.
Stadel started the duel off with a convincing win, but LaFarge gave up a takedown in the final seconds of his 133-pound match with Western’s Caleb Walker. Neiss got the Lights back on track with a 12-2 major decision, but Northern quickly found itself behind 9-8 after Trevor Goss was pinned at 149 pounds. With the Lights later giving up a forfeit at the heavyweight spot, they needed some momentum from the rest of their lineup.
And they got it. MSU-N didn’t lose another match in the dual, and the Lights scored bonus points in each of their wins from 157-197 pounds.
“Because we shuffled out lineup around a little, I thought we were at a disadvantage at the beginning of the dual,” Thivierge said. “We moved two guys up a weight, and Aaron LaFarge wrestled well and could have won that match even though he was giving up quite a bit of size.
“Our upper weight guys went out and did what they’re supposed to do though,” he continued. “They went out and were aggressive and took the action to them (Mustangs).”
Mickey Cheff started the Lights’ run with a third-period pin of Western’s Scott Verner, who is ranked sixth in the NJCAA. The match was close until Cheff made a strong move and got the fall with just under two minutes remaining. Then, top-ranked Ethan Hinebauch made short work of Dixon Richards, pinning him in 1:25 to give the Lights a 20-9 lead. Hinebauch racked up his 23rd pin of the season, while Max Payne came in behind him and wrestled his way to a dominating technical fall over fifth-ranked Ross Taylor. Payne was a beast in the match, continuously taking Taylor, who had beaten Payne earlier in the season, to the mat with solid moves.
“I thought Ethan wrestled a really smart match,” Thivierge said. “He was going to go for the pin because that’s what he does, but I thought he was very patient. Max wrestled great. He lost to that kid once before, but tonight he was just really aggressive and really solid. Max is really climbing the ladder right now. He just gets better and better every time he steps on the mat.”
And the Lights weren’t done. Second-ranked Kody Reed wrestled his way to a 9-1 major decision at 184 pounds, while Toby Cheff earned a third-period pin over 11th-ranked Riley Argyle to finish the night off.
“Again, it was those third-period points and pins,” Thivierge said. “Kody went out there and really dug deep, and Toby got a pin late. The fact that we are wrestling so hard and so well in the third period was really nice to see tonight, and it was a big difference for us.”
And the Lights were hoping to see differences tonight after a disappointing weekend in Illinois where MSU-N was seeded fourth at the Cliff Keen National Duals, but went 1-2.
“We are getting better,” Thivierge said. “We’re working on things we need to get fixed, and I thought tonight was good example of seeing some of those results. Throughout the lineup I thought we improved tonight. So I am pretty happy with how this dual went for us.”
MSU-N will have a quick turnaround as the Lights travel to Powell, Wyo., to take on Northwest College tonight. The Lights lost to the Trappers, who are ranked seventh in the NJCAA, 29-23 back in November. Northern will remain on the road this weekend as the Lights head to the Dickinson State Open Saturday in Dickinson, N.D.
Lights 35, W. Wyoming 15
125 – Duell Stadel, MSU-N dec. Adrian Avelar, WW, 12-4; 133 – Caleb Walker, WW dec. Aaron laFarge, MSU-N, 5-4; 141 – Cameron Neiss, MSU-N maj. dec. Mario Luna, WW, 12-2; 149 – Dillon Karajanis, WW pinned Trevor Goss, MSU-N, 2:04; 157 – Mickey Cheff, MSU-N pinned Scott Verner, WW, 4:02; 165 – Ethan Hinebauch, MSU-N pinned Dixon Richins, WW, 1:25; 174 – Max Payne, MSU-N tech. fall. Ross Taylor, WW, 18-6, 5:48; 184 – Kody Reed, MSU-N maj. dec. Carlos Saabedra, WW, 9-1; 197 – Toby Cheff, MSU-N pinned Riley Argyle, WW, 5:23; HWT – Mike Williams, WW won by forfeit.