Reno, Nev. – The Reno Tournament of Champions is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year when wrestlers will invade Reno from Dec. 13-15. As part of its 25th celebration, there will be a collegiate dual between Eastern Oregon University and Montana State University Northern on Friday, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m.
This is the first time in the history of the tournament that a collegiate dual has taken place during the high school tournament. While the first day of wrestling will be winding down, fans and athletes will be able to watch the dual to conclude the opening day of wrestling.
In addition to the first day of competition for the high school tournament streaming live on Flo, the dual will also be streamed live so fans can take part in this historic event for the tournament.
“On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Reno Tournament of Champions, we are extremely proud and honored that both Coach Azure and Coach Thivierge and the administrations of each school were agreeable in moving the dual to Reno,” Jack Dolan, president of the RTOC said. “We wanted to do something special for the 25th Anniversary, and we had the idea of having a dual during the high school tournament, as we have never done something like this before.”
Eastern Oregon and Montana State University Northern are no stranger to the Reno Tournament of Champions, as both teams have been competing in the tournament for the past several years.
The EOU Mountaineers is led by Dustyn Azure, who enters his third year at the helm of both the men’s and women’s wrestling program for EOU. Azure, who was a two-time NAIA All-American for Montana State University Northern, was willing to give up a home dual in order to take part in this first-ever dual during the high school tournament.
“Thank you to the RTOC staff, FloWrestling, my athletic director and everybody involved with setting this dual up,” Azure said. “Although we did give up a home dual, I believe showcasing the 25th Anniversary of RTOC with the first-ever college dual is plenty big enough reason for our university and fans to understand, and we are grateful to step up and do it.
“This dual will help showcase our programs on a bigger stage with the chance of grabbing the attention of potential student-athletes looking to compete at the next level,” Azure added. “My hope is that we put on an exciting show for everybody and give Ryan and the tournament staff a reason to grow this event or at least continue a similar event every Friday night of the RTOC. We are excited to get out and represent our University, our community and the NAIA.”
The Northern Lights of Montana State University Northern is coached by Tyson Thivierge. During his 11 years at the helm, Thivierge has coached a total of 42 NAIA All-Americans, 4 Individual National Champions, 14 NAIA Academic All-Americans and has placed his teams in the Top 10 of the NAIA National Championships a total of 10 times. In the 2019-2020, his team won an NWCA All-Academic Title.
“As a small school in the NAIA, this is an honor to move a dual to Reno and participate in the first-ever collegiate dual during the high school portion of the RTOC, all while celebrating the 25h Anniversary,” Thivierge said.
“I’ve been bringing my team to the RTOC for 11 years now and to be a part of the first dual is an amazing feeling. From a coach’s perspective, it gives us another opportunity to showcase our team and bring even more prospective recruits. It gives us little programs great exposure, and I’m very grateful to have been selected to participate in this first dual.
Thivierge also added that he believes this is the first step into showcasing even more collegiate duals while participating in the Reno Tounament of Champions.
“Collegiate wrestling needs more exposure in the west and Reno is the perfect fit for programs to gain exposure,” Thivierge added. “I am excited that our progam, as well as Coach Azure’s program, were chosen to break the ice.”
Based on the latest NAIA individual rankings, a total of nine ranked wrestlers will be competing in the dual, and the Lights of MSUN will bring in a top 20 ranked team.