By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editoremail@example.com
It was almost the perfect way for the seniors on the Montana State University-Northern wrestling team to go out in their final home dual.
The Lights put on a wrestling clinic Friday night at the MSU-Northern gymnasium, dominating North Idaho College with a 39-3 victory.
Northern won every match but one, most in convincing fashion, in its final home dual, but not its final home appearance. The Lights will host the Northern Regional Wrestling Tournament on Feb. 14.
Still, it was a special night as Northern honored seniors Caleb Schaeffer, Kyle Fisher and Emmett Willson. All three picked up wins as Northern steamrolled to a 39-0 lead heading into the final match.
North Idaho's Israel Silvas broke up Northern's bid at a shutout, edging Mazi Burke 8-7 in the dual's final match.
"Overall, it was pretty good dual," said head coach David Ray. "I told them that a shutout would be something special for us. And we almost had one."
The Lights got off to a solid start as freshman Jason Harrington snapped a five-match losing streak with a solid 16-4 major decision over Tyson Hintz to open the dual.
"Harrington was so nervous in those other matches and even tonight," Ray said. "He just lacks some confidence. He ended up doing very well tonight and hopefully it will help build some confidence."
Schaeffer followed up Harrington's win with a pin of Damon Rowe. After getting beaten against Boise State and not looking particularly sharp in Thursday's dual, Schaeffer wanted to make a statement in his final home dual.
"I just wanted to come out and wrestle like my old self," he said.
Schaeffer took some criticism from Ray after losing to Boise's Scott Jorgenson, whom he'd beaten twice previously. But he was also critical of himself.
"It wasn't my best performance," he said. "That's not a good time to not wrestle a good match. I think it opened my eyes a little about what I have to do to win."
Chris Smith gave Northern a 14-0 lead with a 14-3 major decision over Derek Kipperberg at 141. Smith used a solid leg attack with a mixture of single- and double-leg takedowns in the win, just missing a pin twice in the match.
At 149 pounds, Anthony Haukenberry scored a hard-fought 6-0 win over Jaime Garcia to push the Northern lead to 17-0. After being held scoreless in the first period, Haukenberry picked up a pair of single-leg takedowns and a pair of escapes in the win.
Stryder Davis scored Northern's second pin of the dual, sticking Niko Van Wyngaardt at the four-minute mark.
"Stryder looked really tough," Ray said. "After picking up that first takedown, he really picked up the pace of the match."
Aaron Jensen continued the Northern run at 165, defeating Tyson Hurst 7-4 in a nice win. After losing to Western Wyoming's Nick Larson on Thursday night, Jensen rebounded with a solid performance.
"Aaron was a little hesitant," Ray said. "He lacks that confidence in himself. He worries about his opponent scoring, which prevents him from scoring. He got going late there and got a nice win."
Also rebounding from a Thursday loss was Northern's Jesse Juarez at 174 pounds. Juarez scored an 18-6 major decision over Kyle Frawley.
"Jesse wrestled well at times," Ray said. "He had a few mental lapses, but he finished really strong, which is good to see."
At 184 pounds, Kyle Fisher needed overtime to defeat North Idaho's Blair Alderman 5-4. Fisher wrestled defensively his last home dual, as Alderman seemed disinterested in taking shots or scoring. After finishing regulation at 3-3, Fisher scored a pretty single-leg takedown 49 seconds into the extra period to get the win.
"Kyle didn't take many shots," Ray said. "He let Alderman dictate the tempo of the match instead of forcing it on Alderman because he didn't want to score."
There wasn't much tempo in the match at 197 pounds because it didn't last long enough to have a tempo. Emmett Willson made fairly quick work of J.B. Plato, pinning him at the 2:36 minute.
"Plato lost to Damion Hahn of Minnesota 14-10 earlier this season," Ray said. "Hahn is the supposedly best wrestler in Division I at 197."
Northern's only loss came at heavyweight as Silvas used his 40-plus-pound weight advantage to propel him to the win over Burke.
Burke scored a late single-leg takedown to tie the match at 7-7 with a minute remaining. However, Silvas had accumulated enough riding time to warrant a point at the end of the match. Burke tried to score another takedown, but couldn't quite do it.
"I'm a little disappointed in Mazi because that's a match he should win," Ray said. "He just kept shooting straight on instead of going for the outside single-leg. I know he was giving up a lot of weight, but he needed to adjust to it."
Although it wasn't a shutout, Ray will gladly take a 39-3 win, especially as the season is coming to an end.
"It's getting down to the wire," Ray said. "And we need to have these type of performances to continue."
Northern will travel to Bismarck to face the University of Mary on Thursday. Ray and Willson will be in Cedar Falls, Iowa, for the 2004 NWCA All-Star Classic tonight.
The 38th annual All-Star Classic will take place at the University of Northern Iowa's UNI Dome and pits the nation's top collegiate wrestlers against each other in challenge matches that are often seen as a preview of the upcoming NCAA championships.
Willson was the first non-Division I wrestler selected for the event since 1989 and will face a Northern Iowa's Sean Stender, who is ranked sixth in NCAA Division I.
"Stender will have the hometown advantage," Ray said. "He took fourth at Midlands and is a very solid wrestler. He and Emmett have never wrestled, but we know he's very strong and tries a lot of double-leg takedowns."
For more information on the All-Star Classic, log onto www.nwcaonline.com.
MSU-NORTHERN 39, NORTH IDAHO COLLEGE 3
125 - Jason Harrington, MSUN maj. dec. Tyson Hintz 16-4; 133 - Caleb Schaeffer, MSUN pinned Damon Rowe 1:56; 141 - Chris Smith, MSUN maj. dec. Derek Kipperberg 14-3; 149 - Anthony Haukenberry, MSUN dec. Jaime Garcia 6-0; 157 - Stryder Davis, MSUN pinned Niko Van Wyngaardt 4:00; 165 - Aaron Jensen, MSUN dec. Tyson Hurst 7-3; 174 - Jesse Juarez, MSUN maj. dec. Kyle Frawley 18-6; 184 - Kyle Fisher, MSUN dec. Blair Alderman 5-3 OT; 197 - Emmett Willson, MSUN pinned J.B. Plato; HWT - Israel Silvas, NIC dec. Mazi Burke 8-7.
2004 NWCA All-Star Classic Lineup
125 - #2 Luke Eustice (Iowa) vs. #3 Mark Moos (Michigan)
133 - #1 Travis Lee (Cornell) vs. #3 Mark Jayne (Illinois)
141 - #1 Teyon Ware (Oklahoma) vs. #2 Scott Moore (Virginia)
149 - #5 Dustin Manotti (Cornell) vs. #6 Jeremy Spates (Missouri)
157 - #3 Jake Percival (Ohio) vs. #4 Matt Gentry (Stanford)
165 - #2 Tyrone Lewis (Oklahoma State) vs. #3 Matt King (Edinboro)
174 - #1 Chris Pendleton (Oklahoma State) vs. #3 Ryan Lange (Purdue)
184 - #1 Greg Jones (West Virginia) vs. #2 Ben Heizer (Northern Illinois)
197 - #1 (NAIA) Emmett Willson (MSUN) vs. #6 Sean Stender (Northern Iowa)
285 - #1 Tommy Rowlands (Ohio State) vs. #2 Pat Cummins (Penn State)
174 - #2 Brad Dillon (Lehigh) vs. #5 Eric Hauan (Northern Iowa)