The start of another Montana State University-Northern Lights wrestling season has arrived, and just like always, things were kicked off by the annual Northern Alumni Dual over the weekend.
Saturday afternoon at the Armory Gymnasium in Havre, the current Lights wrestling team welcomed in a very talented group of 11 different alumni. Fans were treated to 13 matches, with the Alumni eventually defeating the Lights 37-6.
“These guys are solid competition,” MSU-N head coach Tyson Thivierge said. “And one of the benefits is that the Alumni are looking to score one time per period, then hold on. Our guys need to learn that in those situations they have to move, and that is the beauty of it. But it is a fun atmosphere and it is about having fun, but our guys still have to do a better job of getting mentally prepared.”
And the Lights were up against some Northern greats. Recent graduates like Evan Hinebauch and Anthony Weerheim retook the mat, while legends like Rudy James were also in attendance. The Alumni also got some coaching help from Turk Lords, a four-time NAIA National Champion for the Lights.
And to start the dual, the Alumni ripped off eight straight wins.
Wes Barret defeated Doug O’Hara in a 3-1 decision, while Ronnie Oliver pinned Joe Barsotti in 53 seconds. Weerheim also defeated Hunter Azure 7-1, while Evan Hinebauch defeated Garrett DeMers 2-0, Beau Lasalle defeated Dillon Seely 11-0, Colt Heger defeated Chris Williams 3-1, Aaron Jenson defeated Kameron Pribyl 6-1, and Bobby Mantle defeated Micky Cheff 7-4. The Alumni led 28-0 before the Lights finally got on the board with Ethan Hinebauch defeating current MSU-N assistant coach Austin Ouellette 5-0.
But to follow, the Alumni won three of the last four matches.
Dustyn Azure defeated Eli Hinebauch 3-1 in a very tight match that went four periods. But Jared Miller did get the lights back on the board with a 5-0 win over James, before Weerheim defeated Cameron Neiss 6-0 and Evan Hinebauch defeated Jorrell Jones 2-1.
For the most part, Thivierge didn’t do much coaching, just sat back and enjoyed the dual. But against Alumni like Lasalle, Hinebauch, Heger, Ouellette, and Weerheim, wrestlers who are just a year or two out of the program, Thivierge added his input during the matches. As much as this dual is for fun, the Lights can still learn and grow from each match.
“There are just position things we worked on today,” Thivierge said. “We aren’t worried about wins or losses, or anything like that, just the position stuff. When we are down 2-0 the Alumni is going to stall out, so we need our guys to learn from that and learn how to give themselves better opportunities to score.”
James, a two-time NAIA All-American in 1997 and 1999 was more than happy to return for his 17th Alumni Dual. He was a Light in four, but wrestled in his 13th as an alumni on Saturday, and was glad to help out the program anyway he can.
“This is fun,” James said. “And this is a way for me to give back. We definitely want to win because we have pride, but the key thing is to just come in here and have fun without getting hurt. But coming from a program like this, we have some banners hanging up (in the rafters) and it is fun to see the direction this program has been going in the last few years. Not everybody can give a million dollars or even thousands of dollars, so this is one way an Alumni can give back.”
Wednesday the Lights will be back on the mat for the annual Maroon and Gold dual, the Northern opens its season for real on Friday night against North Idaho College.
Alumni 37, Lights 6
Wes Barret, Alumni, dec. Doug O’Hara 3-1; Ronnie Oliver, Alumni, pinned Joe Barsotti 53.1; Anthony Weerheim, Alumni, dec. Hunter Azure 7-1; Evan Hinebauch, Alumni, dec. Garrett DeMers 2-0; Beau Lasalle, Alumni, maj. dec. 11-0; Colt Heger, Alumni, dec. Chris Williams 3-1; Aaron Jenson, Alumni, dec. Kameron Pribyl 6-1; Bobby Mantle, Alumni, dec. Micky Cheff 7-4; Ethan Hinebauch, Lights, dec. Austin Ouellette 5-0; Dustyn Azure, Alumni, dec. Eli Hinebauch 3-1; Jared Miller, Lights, dec. Rudy James, 5-0; Anthony Weerheim, Alumni, dec. Cameron Neiss 6-0; Evan Hinebauch, Alumni, dec. Jorrell Jones 2-1.