BILLINGS — It will be a homecoming on Thursday for Montana State-Northern senior wrestlers Brandon Weber and Matt Weber.
The Weber brothers, along with redshirt junior Chris Nile, will return to the location where they starred in high school as the Lights battle Minot State University at 7 p.m. at the Forsyth High School gymnasium.
The Lights are ranked third in the most recent NAIA coaches poll. Minot State (North Dakota) is an NCAA Division II program.
"They are extremely excited," said Lights 11th-year coach Tyson Thivierge of the Weber brothers and Nile.
Brandon Weber was an NAIA national champion and was the NAIA National Championship Tournament Most Outstanding Wrestler in 2017. The next season, he finished second at nationals. Brandon, a four-time state finalist and three-time State B-C champion for the Dogies, is ranked second in the country this year at 157 pounds.
In 2016, Matt Weber claimed third at the NAIA national tourney and was a national runner-up last year. Matt Weber, a four-time state champion, is top-ranked in the NAIA this year at 141 pounds.
Nile is a two-time state champion — who also placed third and second in high school — and placed fourth at the NAIA national tourney last year. Nile is ranked second in the country at 174. Nile redshirted at Boise State in 2015 before joining the Northern program.
"They don't get to see a lot of college wrestling, they might see Dickinson over there, but the eastern side of the state — Billings, Miles City, Glasgow, Sidney — doesn't get to see a lot of college wrestling," said Thivierge, who noted his No. 1 lineup will be in action Thursday. "We thought it would be a good way to showcase college wrestling and honor my two seniors.
"They have been the pinnacle of Montana wrestling the last couple of years and being able to showcase those guys is a big deal with the fact we get to do it in their hometown gymnasium."
Thivierge has experience wrestling as a college senior in the gym he performed in as a prep athlete. When he was a student-athlete at Northern, then coach David Ray scheduled a dual at Clarkston High School in Clarkston, Washington, in 2002. Northern won the dual and Thivierge was victorious.
"It was a blast," Thivierge recalled. "I won by second-round pin. It was a blast. After four years of not wrestling in that gymnasium, they will feel the same thing in an exciting dual against an NCAA D-II program. They'll have fun."
The projected dual lineup is: 125, Nick Kunz, MSUN, Helena, vs. Dean Arevalo; 133, Landon Bailey, MSUN, Helena, vs. Liam Hayden; 141, Matt Weber, MSUN, Forsyth, vs. Jered Sublet; 149, Tony Evans, MSUN, vs. Tanner Crissler; 157, Brandon Weber, MSUN, Forsyth, vs. Zach Berry or Max Miller; 165, Andrew Bartel, MSUN, vs. Nathan Baca; 174, Chris Nile, MSUN, Forsyth, vs. Tony Raupp or Parker Osterman; 184, Steeler French, MSUN, Choteau, vs. Keegan Berry; 197, Isaac Bartel, MSUN, vs. Je-Mario Jones or Andrew Helfrich; 285, Jase Stokes, MSUN, Havre, vs. Jordan Will.
NOTES: Thivierge said the two programs are looking at dualing each other every year at a neutral site in Eastern Montana. ... Admission is $5 per person. If a team is interested in attending, the coach should contact Forsyth AD Craig Knoche at email@example.com to let him know the coach and team will be attending, and admission will be $30. ... A third Weber brother, Nathan, is also a wrestler for the Lights, but is redshirting this year.