MSU-Northern’s Andrew and Isaac Bartel are all business on the mat. Both are nationally ranked in the NAIA for their respective weight class (Andrew is No. 11 at 165 pounds and Isaac is No. 2 at 197 pounds) and are peaking as the season winds down.
But outside of the wrestling room and in front of the television camera, the brothers from Iowa show a much different side.
“People say I’m better looking than him,” Isaac said while flexing.
His brother laughed.
“That’s just a rumor going around,” Andrew replied.
Though raised in the Midwest, the Bartels have found a new home at MSU-Northern. The journey to Havre started five years ago when Andrew took a trip to visit the Northern campus after a successful high school career in Mason City, Iowa.
“My assistant high school coach (Andy Thompson) wrestled here and set me up with Tyson (Thivierge),” Andrew recalled. “I came out on a recruiting trip and knew instantly he was the coach for me and I loved the mountains. It was a perfect fit right away.”
Andrew immediately embraced the Montana life. Hunting, fishing and hiking quickly became favorite pastimes. He even started dating a Montana girl and recently got engaged to Havre native and Skylights basketball player Peyton Filius.
Before long, Isaac was looking for a place to wrestle, as well. Turns out, he also liked the mountains, and it wasn’t long before both Bartel brothers were key contributors to the Lights’ success.
“They’ve grown a lot. Andrew has become a Montana boy, he’s bought into our program, bought into our philosophy and he’s flourished,” said Thivierge. “My style is a lot like Andrew’s style. We just fine-tuned some things, and he really accepted the role and he flourished from there.”
“Same thing with Isaac, he was a nerdy, tall, skinny, freshman 197-pounder, and he’s taken off, and it’s been a delight,” continued Thivierge. “Being able to coach those guys has been a lot of fun.”
The Bartel brothers and the rest of the No. 9-ranked MSU-Northern Lights will try to qualify for the NAIA national tournament this weekend at the Cascade Conference Championships in Great Falls beginning Friday afternoon.