(Editor's note: UP Argos Media Release)
GREAT FALLS— The University of Providence men's wrestling team continued their hot streak, upsetting #8 MSU-Northern 18-16 Thursday night in the McLaughlin Center. The win marks the fourth straight dual win the team has had over a Cascade Collegiate Conference opponent.
Deven Altenburg-Lasher and Joel Avila got the team started with two decision wins to give the Argos (7-4, 4-2) a 6-0 lead. The two teams alternated the next three weights to make it 9-9, but #14 Jordan Komac, who was named the NAIA National Wrestler of the Week on Wednesday, defeated #5 Chase Short via decision to give the Argos a three-point lead.
After dropping at 174-lbs., #17 Hayden Schrull pulled off another upset, defeating #6 Carl Hansen to give the Argos a 15-12 lead. The Lights (8-4, 4-1) won at 197-lbs., but #12 KC Buday defeated Ryan Moldenhauer via decision in the final bout of the night to give the Argos the victory.
"It feels amazing," head coach Steve Komac said. "We talk about how the highs can't be too high and the lows can't be too low, but we still at the same time want to enjoy things and give credit where credit is due. The kids battled from the first match to the last match. It's not the Super Bowl, it's not the National Tournament, but you have to go through opponents like that to get there. That's a good step for us."
The coaching staff credited Altenburg-Lasher and Avila with setting the tone with two straight victories to start the dual. Altenburg-Lasher got his first victory against the Lights, while Avila, who is ranked #8th in the country, defeated #11 and returning National Runner-Up Nick Kunz 6-4.
"For Deven, that's the first time he's got a win against that opponent," Komac said. "That got us started right. Kunz is so tough for them at 133. Joel earned another win there. He was tough all the way though and wrestled very smart. That really got us going. After that the momentum just stayed with us."
The win gives the team a barometer from how far they've come since the fall. The two teams duked it out in Havre on Nov. 10, with the Lights defeating the Argos handily 25-9. That result fueled a tone shift in the practice room from the Argo coaching staff, and the results of that progress showed through on Thursday.
"We only won three matches in that dual in the fall," Komac said. "We won six tonight. It felt great. Our kids are started to recognize their improvement. We could see them coming along. It was hard. Now I think they're starting to buy into it. They're starting to see it which means a lot."
The win will also inspire confidence for the team, who will compete at the CCC Tournament next weekend in Havre, Mont.
"This was great for our confidence," Komac said. "The Cascade is so tough. Next week is going to be tough. There's not a lot of allocations up to take. These kids are going to have to win those kind of matches like we did tonight in order to get to Nationals."