BILLINGS — One road will end end March 1-2 in Des Moines, Iowa, at the NAIA national wrestling championships.
Until then, brothers Brandon Weber and Matt Weber, and lifelong friend Chris Nile are enjoying the ride.
The three former Forsyth High School wrestling stars are all on the Montana State-Northern wrestling team that makes a stop at the Forsyth High School gymnasium on Thursday. The third-ranked Lights will take on NCAA Division II Minot State at 7 p.m.
Brandon Weber is a redshirt senior this year and Matt Weber is a senior. Nile is a redshirt junior.
Both the Weber brothers — Matt is top-ranked at 141 pounds this year and Brandon is rated second at 157 — will be wrestling against the Beavers (0-4). Nile, ranked second at 174, has been ruled out with symptoms of a concussion, which started at practice on Monday. MSU-Northern is 7-1.
"People keep talking about it and posting about it, it is pretty sad (I won't be wrestling,)" Nile said. "You get a homecoming, but the end of the season is more important. I have to make sure I'm healthy. It will be sweet to watch Matt and Brandon wrestle in Forsyth, though."
Brandon Weber said he is very much looking forward to the dual on Thursday as the Forsyth and area fans have always been very supportive. He recalled an Eastern B-C divisional tournament held in Forsyth when he was in high school and feels the atmosphere will be much the same.
"You could hear it across the railroad tracks," Brandon said.
"We are excited," Brandon Weber said. "Our grandparents get to come and watch us in Forsyth.
"Walking to that gym will bring back memories you forgot."
The last time all three of them were in the Forsyth gym as wrestlers together was at the Matador tournament in 2013. Brandon Weber and Chris Nile are 2014 graduates of Forsyth and Brandon was a three-time State B-C champion and Nile was a two-time state titlist. Matt Weber is a member of Montana's four-time state champion club and graduated high school in 2015.
"We'll see a bunch of old faces," Matt said, noting his father and Forsyth coach Scott Weber, Pat French, and Chris' dad Steve Nile were coaches who helped push and inspire the trio as young wrestlers.
All are excited their parents will be in attendance on Thursday night.
Last year at the NAIA national tournament, the Weber brothers both scored runner-up finishes and Nile was fourth. Brandon Weber was a NAIA national champion and the NAIA National Championship Tournament Most Outstanding Wrestler in 2017. In 2016, Matt Weber placed third at nationals. The Weber brothers and Nile all said with continued hard work, perseverance and good health, they can take the next step in Des Moines.
The three former Dogies also know a thing or two about what it takes to be a championship team. Brandon Weber and Nile were on three state title teams at Forsyth, while Matt was a part of two.
This year's Lights team is close and watches football games together and also gets together to play board and video games. Nile said coach Tyson Thivierge does a good job of keeping the mood light. To be the top team, the wrestlers know there will be a challenge. Top-ranked Grand View of Iowa has won seven straight team titles. The Lights were fourth at nationals last year.
"I believe we have a shot at it," Brandon Weber said. "I believe in this team. The older guys have to step up and place better than last year and the younger guys have to step up and be All-Americans."
"This is the year to do it, for sure," added Matt.
The road to their success started long ago. Matt and Brandon both started in the sport at age four and Chris was either 5 or 6.
"I was horrible, I could never win," said Brandon with a grin.
"It was never competitive, it was more for balance," added Matt.
"Young wrestling is for building friendships and having fun," said Chris.
Over the years, the wrestlers recall traveling to many youth tournaments and have a story for each one. There were countless miles the group traveled in either a Suburban or minivan to a tournament. One exception was in 2014, when the wrestlers flew to Virginia Beach for the National High School Coaches Association Nationals.
"For me, when I look back over my career I see the road trips and memories and the friends I've made," said Brandon.
"Brandon and I have done everything together since we were little kids and have been best friends," said Nile.
Different paths led to Havre for the wrestlers. Nile had a stop at Boise State, where he redshirted in 2015, but left the school after a series of injuries and attended school at Montana State Billings and was an assistant coach at Billings Skyview for two years before attending Northern.
The Weber brothers thought the last time they'd wrestle together would be on a cultural-exchange trip to Germany in the summer of 2014. Brandon then attended school at Miles Community College for a semester. But, in December of 2014 when Matt was a senior at Forsyth, Brandon and Matt signed to wrestle with the Lights.
"It was a definite thought," Matt said of the the trio's early ambitions of wrestling together in college. "Everyone had their own way they were going. Chris was going to Boise State and Brandon went to Miles for a semester."
Now, in a little less than two months, the trio's journey as wrestling teammates will be over as the Weber brothers will conclude their college careers.
"I'm sure at the national tournament it will be emotional," Brandon Weber said. "It was in high school. I know nationals will be a tough one."