Two Top-10 teams, ten ranked individuals, five seniors, four pins, two forfeits, one rivalry, and a final score of 29-21 where the numbers to know in (8) Argos wrestling's dual victory over (T5) Montana State University - Northern. Not only was the match a renewal of top ranked rival teams, but it was also senior night for UGF and the last action of the regular season for both teams.
“I don’t think we wrestled as well tonight as we did up in Havre earlier this year. Coach Tyson had a phenomenal game plan,” UGF Head Coach Caleb Schaeffer said. “But I’ll tell you what, to have seven freshman in the lineup and to do as well as we have, I’m pretty happy.”
With pride, rankings, and seeding at the NAIA West Regional Tournament on the line, redshirt-junior (15) Isaac Wilson provided a strong start to the night for UGF.
Wilson brought his opponent, Robert Pair, down to the mat twice in the first period, but also allowed Pair to earn reversals on both of those takedowns. In the second period, Wilson cleaned up a few techniques, earning a takedown and a four-point near fall before finishing the match with a pin at 4:32.
Adding to the 6 points from Wilson were 6 more for UGF at 133, with the Northern Lights forfeiting the first of two matches.
With a 12-0 lead, the Argos were set up to take an almost insurmountable lead over Northern with at 141. That weight class featured the best match of the night with UGF’s redshirt-freshman (7) Shonn Roberts taking on MSUN’s sophomore (8) Matt Weber. When the two faced earlier in the year that Battle of the Rockies Open, Roberts got the better of Weber in a 10-4 decision.
Halfway through the second period it looked like UGF might get a similar result out of the talented freshman. Roberts had two takedowns to Weber’s two escapes and was working towards a pin when Weber took advantage of an opening to earn a reversal. That reversal proved fatal, as the MSUN wrestler turned it into a pin to win by Fall (4:47).
UGF responded with a dominant performance from redshirt-freshman Casey Dobson at 149. Dobson scored on three takedowns, one escape, one two-point near fall, one four-point near fall, and riding time advantage for a 14-0 Major Decision.
That brought the score to a seemingly comfortable 16-6 lead for the Argos, but another win by Fall (2:28) for Northern in the following match closed the gap at 16-12.
The good news for the Argos was that senior (8) Khaldoon Rashid was next up at 165. Rashid has been a calming force and steady performance for the otherwise young Argo team and of the five seniors being honored senior night, would be the only one to hit the mat.
The bad news was that while Rashid has had success against his opponent, Andrew Bartel, in the past, their meetings usually go down to the wire. The story was no different in Rashid’s final home match. Two escapes and one takedown were all the senior could manage to score, but it was just enough for a 4-3 decision win.
“There are a lot of emotions involved and you try to prepare yourself for it, but it really hits you right before your match,” Rashid said of wrestling on Senior Night. “My mom came all the way from Texas and this is just the third time she’s ever seen me wrestle, so to come out with a win is a great feeling.”
Gain control of emotions was a crucial for Rashid, as senior, but has also been a strength of redshirt-freshman (6) Randy Keesler. The 174 wrestler’s maturity beyond his experience has been a key to Keesler’s success and was also the key to his 15-7 Major Decision win against the Lights.
After being held to just a 2-0 lead through the first period by (T12) Steeler French, the freshman kept his cool, stuck to his game plan and went on to earn six more takedowns before the end of the match.
“There aren’t many guys that can get one takedown in the first period and then open up a match and not get out of their comfort zone,” Schaeffer said. “He didn’t force the issue. He just kept doing exactly what he does. He wore down the guy, kept going to the well, and he broke him. Most freshman can’t do that.”
The final three matches were a bit unconventional. Instead of usual 184 starter, Sam Voigtlaender, Schaeffer wrestled redshirt-freshman Alex Quick against MSUN’s redshirt-senior (2) Ben Stroh. Stroh got a quick pin against Quick, but those 6 points were canceled out by an MSUN forfeit at 197.
In the final match of the night, the Argos sent (3) John Hensley, a 197 wrestler, in against (5) Taylor Kornoely, a true heavyweight. UGF’s redshirt-freshman battled hard against the senior, only allowing one takedown, but despite a few close calls at the end of the third period, his could earn one of his own, losing a 3-2 decision.
With a 29-21 win, UGF finished the season with a 2-0 sweep against MSU-Northern and 13-2 record overall in duals. The Argos only lost one dual to an NAIA opponent all year, a 30-15 loss to (4) Menlo. Next, UGF will move on to postseason tournaments, starting with the NAIA West Region Tournament in Redding, California on February 18.
Courtesy: UGF Sports Information