By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editorfirstname.lastname@example.org
Montana State University-Northern wrestling coach David Ray can list off countless reasons for having a dual meet this early in the season. There's the motivating factor of having early matches, the incentive for his wrestlers to keep their weight down, and the confidence-building that comes with early wins. It also gets the opening jitters out of inexperienced wrestlers.
But most importantly, it allows him to see how his wrestlers are progressing.
And for the most part, Ray likes what he sees. The Lights cruised to a 31-6 win over the University of Calgary in a dual match Friday afternoon at the MSU-Northern gymnasium.
"It's good time to have matches," Ray said. "It gives me a measuring stick to see how we're progressing. You can't always see it in the practice room because everybody is getting better at the same time."
Northern appeared to have performed well, according to Ray's measuring stick. The Lights won six of eight matches with some dominant performances in a format with points being awarded for takedowns.
The Lights got pins from Usman Khan (125), Caleb Schaeffer (133) and Chris Smith (141) and a win by technical fall by Jacob Scoles in an exhibition match.
Khan and Huy Nguyen wrestled an ugly match, with Khan rallying from a 5-2 deficit to tie the match and send it to overtime. In the overtime period, Khan picked up a single leg takedown and rolled Nguyen over for the pin.
"Usman did a nice job coming back," Ray said. "But he needs to wrestle that hard all the time, especially in the practice room. He gives up too many takedowns in the practice room and it carried over into the match."
Schaeffer made quick work of Casey Haddock, pinning him with 1:32 remaining in the first period.
Smith and Scoles were technically proficient, picking up a pair of impressive wins.
"Chris Smith and Jacob Scoles really impressed me with the way they wrestled," Ray said. "They wrestled sound matches and really did a good job of taking advantage of the angles on their shots. They got in real low and used good technique."
Calgary got on the board as Joe Bentley decisioned Lance Nelson 6-2.
"Lance just didn't wrestle very aggressively," Ray said. "He wrestled really defensively and he's been doing that at practice."
Stryder Davis got Northern back into the winning ways with a 10-0 win by technical fall over Damon Booth.
"Stryder started out a little slow and I think he was pretty nervous," Ray said. "But he really picked up and showed how dominant he can be."
Calgary picked up its other win of the dual as Tony Baldwin edged Northern's Aaron Jensen 3-2 in the 184-pound match. Jensen, who moved up two weight classes for the match, was giving up roughly 25 pounds to Baldwin and it showed at times.
"Aaron was coming too straight on," Ray said. "He needed to come at more of an angle and attack the weak spots. The guy was a lot bigger, but I think Aaron was a better wrestler."
Northern concluded the dual with a pair of impressive wins from a pair of seniors.
Kyle Fisher picked up a 7-0 win over Beamer Comfort, which Ray thought was impressive considering Comfort wrestled not to lose instead of trying to score takedowns.
"Kyle's opponent wrestled really defensive," Ray said. "It is tough to score when a guy is that defensive."
In the final match, Emmett Willson took out the frustration of losing his first match of the year in the alumni duals on Calgary's Jeremy Rudack. Domination might be an understatement as Willson scored an 11-1 technical fall, barely breaking a sweat.
"Emmett just hammered on that kid," Ray said. "He doesn't like to lose and losing last week was a good spark for him. Everybody needs that once in awhile because it brings you back to reality and doesn't let you thing you're invincible."
The dual match along with this weekend's Calgary freestyle tournament will be good tune-ups for Northern's intrasquad duals in the coming weeks. Northern will take 12 wrestlers to Canada for some early season action.
MSU-Northern 31, University of Calgary 6
125 - Usman Khan, MSUN pinned Huy Nguyen, (CAL) 7:04 OT; 133 - Caleb Schaeffer, MSUN pinned Casey Haddock, CAL 1:32; 141 - Chris Smith, MSUN pinned Josh Smith, CAL 2:51; 149 - Joe Bentley, CAL dec. Lance Nelson, MSUN 6-2; 157 - Stryder Davis, MSUN win by tech. fall Damon Booth, CAL 10-0; 184 - Tony Baldwin, CAL dec. Aaron Jensen, MSUN 3-2; 197 - Kyle Fisher, MSUN dec. Beamer Comfort 7-0; HWT - Emmett Willson, MSUN win by tech. fall Jeremy Rudack, CAL 11-1.
Exhibition matches - 141- Jacob Scoles, MSUN win by tech. fall Burnt, CAL 11-1; 133 - Caleb Schaeffer, MSUN dec. Joe Bentley, CAL 8-5.