By Ryan Divish
Most wrestling teams hold their intrasquad wrestling duals in their home gyms, but the Montana State University-Northern wrestling team isn't like most teams.
The Lights hit the road, venturing an 865-mile round trip to compete in a pair of intrasquad dual matches this past weekend. In an effort to bring the program to different areas around the state and to have his senior wrestlers compete in their hometowns, the Lights traveled to Butte on Friday and Laurel on Saturday.
Senior All-American Eric Dunmire returned home to the Mining City to compete in front of his hometown fans, and he didn't disappoint. Dunmire needed overtime to defeat talented freshman Anthony Haukenberry 7-5.
"Eric reversed him late in the overtime to win," said head coach David Ray.
Dunmire's Maroon team took the team win with Andy Thompson and Matt Carter picking up pins. Senior Bobby Mantle and All-American Kyle Fisher also added wins for the Maroon team. Fellow All-Americans Caleb Schaeffer and Emmett Willson picked up wins by fall for the gold team.
The overall competitive nature pleased Ray. However, the small Butte crowd did not.
"The crowd in Butte wasn't what I expected," Ray said. "I was a little disappointed about that."
It would be different a night later as a crowd of more than 400 was on hand for the match in Laurel. Once again Dunmire and Haukenberry didn't disappoint. After taking a 7-4 lead in the first two periods, Schaeffer couldn't close out Haukenberry. The freshman rallied in the third period, winning the match 8-7. Dunmire, who ranks first in the 141-pound weight division in NAIA, tried to just hang on in the third period instead of being aggressive, Ray said.
"Eric is always stressing out about winning and losing early in the season," Ray said. "He can't worry about that."
Despite the stellar performance, Ray said Haukenberry will most likely redshirt this season.
"The only way that he wouldn't is if we need him to win a national championship," Ray said.
Haukenberry's win led the Gold to a 21-17 victory, giving the teams a split over the weekend. Caleb Schaeffer picked up his second pin over Chris Smith, while Joc Muir added his second win of the weekend over Brent Riggin to pace the Gold team.
"Chris is better than what he showed,"Ray said. "I was really impressed by Joc. He really seems to be improving."
Muir will wrestle off against Dustyn Azure on Tuesday. Azure didn't make the trip because of a sore elbow.
Mantle, Fisher, Willson, Carter and Luke Heuberger also won both of their matches on the weekend. Willson and Carter picked up pins on Saturday.
"I had people on both nights come up and tell me that they'd never seen anyone as big as Emmett move that quickly," Ray said.
Win or lose, the effort was there all weekend.
"The wrestling was very competitive all weekend," Ray said. "It was very positive. I had a lot of people come and tell me how great it was to see college wrestling."
Northern will host Dickinson State University on Thursday. Ray said the Lights won't be at full strength with Mike Lester injured. Matt Carter also will not wrestle.
"Dickinson has a few guys that are ranked," Ray said. "It should be competitive and pretty exciting."