GREAT FALLS, Mont. – When Argo wrestling last faced Montana State University – Northern it was back on November 9 and UGF was wrestling in its first dual of the year. At the time, the Lights were ranked No. 4 in the 2016-17 NAIA Wrestling Coaches’ Preseason Poll and the Argos were unranked for the first time since the start of the program. UGF won that match in a stunning 23-13 upset that launched a steady climb up the rankings.
The two teams will face each other again on Wednesday, February 8 in the McLaughlin Center in the last act for both programs before the NAIA West Regional Finals. This time the dual is a battle of top-5 teams with Northern just about where they were to start the season at No. 3, and the Argos now standing at No. 5.
With the dual lineups almost fully set, the battle could feature as many as 12 ranked individuals, including three bouts where both participants are ranked in the Top-10.
Despite the success of both programs over the course of the year, both teams’ dual lineup have undergone some significant reconstruction since their first meeting. Of the ten matches, only three will be a rematch from November. Two of those, however, will be two of more interesting bouts.
The three rematches will be UGF’s (16) Isaac Wilson against MSUN’s Rob Pair at 125, (4) Khaldoon Rashid against (8) Andrew Bartel at 165, and (8) Matt Hopkins against (2) Taylor Kornoely at 285.
Wilson got the best of Pair last time, starting the dual off for UGF with a 19-3 Tech Fall. Rashid also won his bout, but in a much closer 7-6 Decision. Hopkins, who is ranked as a 197 wrestler and not a heavyweight, lost to Kornoely by Major Decision (19-7), but that was his first time wrestling against a 285 opponent, something he has been doing successfully ever since.
While both 165 and 285 will be premier matchups, the 141 weight class could be the best match of the night. The battle features (4) Shonn Roberts against (6) Matt Weber. Neither wrestler participated in the last meeting of the two teams, but they did face each other in the semifinals of the Battle of the Rockies Open on December 3. Roberts was wrestling unattached at the time, but defeated Weber in a 10-4 decision.
The only other weight class to feature two ranked wrestlers will be 184 where UGF senior (16) Sam Voigtlaender will get a tough test on Senior Night against (2) Ben Stroh. Stroh wrestled at 197 the last time the two team faced when he defeated then unranked but now (4) John Hensley 1-0.
Five Argo wrestlers will be honored before the dual for UGF’s Senior Night. Joining Voigtlaender will be Andreas Geranios, Joe Else, Justin Whitman, and Rashid, who is a redshirt-junior that will be graduating at the end of the year.