By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editorfirstname.lastname@example.org
A week after signing three top in-state wrestlers, Montana State University-Northern head wrestling coach David Ray went outside the state to add some talent.
Ray signed three wrestlers to NAIA national letter of intents to compete for the Lights next season.
A.J. Bartels of Mesa, Ariz., has signed for Northern and will vie for a spot in the 125-pound classification. Bartels wrestled 112 this season for Red Mountain High School and finished second in the state with a 47-1 record. As a junior, Bartels was 47-6 and placed third, which isn't bad, considering he's only been wrestling for four years.
"A.J. didn't start wrestling until his freshman year in high school," Ray said. "But he is a natural that was born to wrestler. He is a little undersized right now, weighing only 120 pounds, but we will get him on the weights and beef him up to around 130 to 135 pounds. He is a great person with very high standards of success."
Bartels will major in business management and is the son of Doug and Joan Bartels of Mesa.
Ray also added a pair of Washington wrestlers in Tanner McCoy and Ty Aiken.
McCoy comes to Northern from Sedro Woolley High in Sedro Woolley, Wash. McCoy is a two-time state placer in Washington, finishing second this year at 160 pounds. Ray projects him to wrestle at either 149 or 157 for Northern.
"Tanner is a very physical looking wrestler," Ray said. "He is very explosive and has good technique. Tanner comes from a team that has been state champions four of the last five years."
Besides success on the mat, McCoy excels in the classroom, carrying a 3.5 cumulative grade point average. He will major in architecture.
Aiken hails from Clarkston, Wash., and comes from the same high school that produced former Northern All-American and national champion Tyson Thivierge. Aiken racked up a 33-8 record this past season while finishing fourth in the state 165. He led Clarkston in takedowns and was named to the all-Greater Spokane League squad and will compete at 157 for the Lights.
"Ty has a lot of potential that has not be been tapped," Ray said. "He was impressive on the mat during his recruiting trip. He has big heart and a positive attitude. He is going to improve tremendously with the outstanding workout partners he'll have in Anthony Haukenberry and Stryder Davis."
Besides being a solid wrestler, Aiken is a solid student. He is a four-year academic all-state selection who carries a 3.5 cumulative grade point average. He will major in business education and is the son of Jason and Deanne Speck of Clarkston.