By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editorfirstname.lastname@example.org
Praise doesn't come easily from Montana State University-Northern wrestling coach David Ray. It's not that he is above offering it. But it has to be earned. The Lights did plenty to earn Ray's praise with a dominant performance at the Dickinson State University Classic.
The Lights claimed five individual titles on their way to grabbing the team title with 139 points, four and half points better than the top NCAA Division III school, Augsburg College, which finished with 134.5.
"I'm pretty happy with the way the tournament went," Ray said. "We beat some very good kids this weekend. We're starting to get to where everyone is thinking that we can win. We're starting to come together the way we should at this time of the year. Every-body that wrestled did something good this weekend."
Indeed, besides the five individual titles, Northern had a second place finish, three third-place finishes, two fourth-place finishes and a fifth-place finish.
The solid individual performances led Northern to the title. The tournament counted team points for one wrestler per weight class. Northern got to use only eight weight classes - not having eligible wrestlers at 125 and heavyweight - but still managed to win the title.
"Augsburg was missing a wrestler and only got to use nine wrestlers," Ray said. "We did do very well to win the team title with only eight wrestlers."
Indeed, Northern titles from Caleb Schaeffer at 133, Anthony Haukenberry at 149, Ryan Hall at 157, Kyle Fisher at 184 and a shared title between Emmett Willson and Mazi Burke at 197 pounds.
Schaeffer cruised to the championship match scoring a pair of pins and a major decision, before defeating Augsburg's Mark Matzek 8-3 for the title.
"Caleb wrestled really smart this weekend," Ray said. "Matzek is ranked third in Division III and he was winning 8-1 with 10 seconds left and he gave up a reversal to make it seem closer than it was. He looked the best he has all season, he never got himself on his back and wrestled very smart."
Haukenberry moved into the 149-pound semifinals with a pair of pins, setting up a tough match with Danny Castillo of Menlo College, who was ranked sixth in NAIA. Haukenberry won a 1-0 thriller to move into the championship where he pulled off a solid 3-2 win over seventh-ranked Mike Champagne of the University of Mary.
"Haukenberry did a nice job," Ray said. "The win over Castillo was a big, big win for him. He had a nice tournament."
Ray got a pleasant surprise from Hall at 157 pounds. With top-ranked Stryder Davis not making the trip because of a sore shoulder, Ray hoped Hall and Dale Seley would score some points in his absence. The duo more than compensated.
Hall rolled to the championship, where he defeated Cort Peterson of Northwest College, 9-7. Seley lost to Peterson in the semifinals but rallied to finish third. Hall's recent performance in the last two tournaments has Ray considering him for one of the extra spots on the NAIA national tournament roster.
"He's definitely one those guy who has a chance to be on the team," Ray said. "He wrestled really hard. It was good to see. Dale could've easily been wrestling Hall in the finals. He had his chances to win that semifinal match."
Fisher picked up his second individual title in as many weeks at 184 pounds. Fisher pinned Ryan Vincent of Jamestown to move to the semifinals where he defeated Brad Tupa of Augsburg 9-8. However, that match wasn't as close as the score indicated according to Ray.
"Kyle was winning 8-0 in the third period," Ray said. "He got reversed a couple times at the end, but it really wasn't that close."
Fisher captured the title with a 4-2 win over Eric Simburger of Mary.
At 197 pounds, Willson and Burke shared the title, as both advanced to the title match. Ray decided to have them not wrestle each other and be co-champs.
"There wasn't any reason for them to wrestle each other," Ray said. "Emmett was his usual self and Mazi did an excellent job."
Burke advanced to the championship match with a dominant 9-0 win over Augsburg's Justin Sorenson, who is ranked fourth in Division III.
"Sorenson is an outstanding wrestler," Ray said. "If he was in NAIA he'd be one of the top wrestlers and Mazi dominated him. The last two tournaments Mazi has done very well."
Northern got a strong showing from Jesse Juarez at 174 pounds, who finished second, losing to Augsburg's Joe Moon in the finals 6-0. Juarez scored a big 7-5 overtime win over third-ranked Gabe Harry of DSU in the semifinals.
"That's a very big win for Jesse," Ray said. "Moon is pretty tough, but I think Jesse can wrestle with him."
Northern also got third-place finishes from Chris Smith at 141, Dan Shaw at 149 and David Waters at 174.
Smith lost to James Guizar of Menlo 8-4 in the semifinals in a very tough match.
"Chris's semifinal match was closer than the score showed," Ray said. "He was down 4-3 late in the match and he was trying for a takedown and ended up giving up a fall and a near fall for four points."
Smith rallied to take a third, defeating teammate Joc Muir in the consolation match. Muir's fourth-place finish was another nice surprise for Ray.
"Joc Muir dropped from 149 to 141 this week and had a solid tournament," Ray said. "He's also someone who could be that 10th or 11th guy at Nationals."
Shaw opened with a loss to Jared Evans of Augsburg, but fought his way through the wrestlebacks, picking up a win over Kyle Nay of DSU to get to the consolation, where he won by default.
Lance Nelson finished fifth at 149. The former Big Sandy standout rallied from a quarterfinals loss to Nay, winning by disqualification over him for fifth place.
Waters suffered a tough 5-3 loss to Jesse Vasquez of Menlo in the first round, but picked up a pin of Menlo's Marc Banks and default win over Vasquez to get to the consolation before falling 8-0 to Harry of DSU.
Also placing was Aaron Jensen with a fifth at 165. Jensen lost to eventual champion Ryan Valek of Augsburg in the quarterfinals, but scored wins over Scott Huckell and Art Martinez to finish fifth.
"Aaron did an excellent job of coming back," Ray said. "He just needs to start believing that he's as good as the guys he wrestles."
Ray couldn't help but be pleased, especially with a team win. Augsburg had won the last three titles over Northern at the Dickinson tournament.
"We're showing some depth in our team," Ray said. "It's a great win for us. We're all really pulling together and starting to click. They know this is the time of the season we have to raise our level even higher. Still, we have to be realistic. We are facing the toughest stretch of our schedule the next few weeks."
The Lights will return to action on Thursday when they travel to Powell, Wyo., for a dual against Northwest College, the top-ranked NJCAA team in the country. Northern will also fly to Cleveland for the NAIA national duals this weekend.
DICKINSON STATE UNIVERSITY CLASSIC
1. Montana State University-Northern 139. 2. Augsburg College 134.5. 3. Menlo College 90. 4. U-Mary 73.5. 5. DSU 67. 6. Itasca Community College 21. 7. NDSU 15. 8. Northwest Community College 14. 9. Jamestown College 11.5. 10. Rochester Community College 11.5. 11. Dakota Community College 4.5.
125 - Jason Harrington, 1-2
Cory Johnston, DSU dec. Harrington 2-1
Harrington dec. Mark Johnston, DSU 7-2
Ricky Aguirre dec. Harrington, 5-2
133 - Caleb Schaeffer, 4-0, 1st place
First Round - Schaeffer maj. dec. Erik Carr, JC 18-9
Quarterfinals - Schaeffer pinned Daniel Carr, DSU :55
Semifinals - Schaeffer pinned Alfonso Paez, Menlo 2:36
Championship - Schaeffer dec. Mark Matzek, AUG 8-3
141 - Chris Smith, 3-1, 3rd place
Quarterfinals - Smith pinned Eric Grund, JC 3:29
Wrestleback - Smith dec. Marcos Austin, DSU 6-2
Consolation - Smith dec. Joc Muir, MSUN 9-6
141 - Joc Muir, 4-2, 4th place
First Round - F. Flanagan, Menlo pinned. Muir 4:45
Wrestleback 1 - Muir dec. John Motta, JC 5-1
Wrestleback 2 - Muir dec. Eric Grund, JC 9-6
Wrestleback 3 - Muir dec. Cory Warmen, DC 4-1
Wrestleback 4 - Muir pinned Flanagan, Menlo 1:21
Consolation - Smith, MSUN dec. Muir, 9-6
141 - Jacob Scoles, 0-2
Quarterfinals - James Tidwell, AUG pinned Scoles 2:20
Wrestleback 1 - Rich Taylor, AUG dec. Scoles, 11-6
149 - Anthony Haukenberry, 4-0, 1st place
First Round - Haukenberry pinned Frankie Schoonover, DSU 5:37
Quarterfinals - Haukenberry pinned Mitch Bunne, RCC 6:01
Semifinals - Haukenberry dec. Danny Castillo, Menlo 1-0
Championship - Haukenberry dec. Mike Champagne, MARY 2-1
149 - Dan Shaw, 4-1, 3rd place
First Round - Jared Evans, AUG dec. Shaw 7-6
Wrestleback 1 - Shaw win by default Dustin Dahlblom, AUG
Wrestleback 2 - Shaw dec. Kyle Nay, DSU 4-3
Consolation - Shaw win by default Castillo, Menlo
149 - Lance Nelson, 2-2, fifth place
Quarterfinals - Kyle Nay, DSU pinned Nelson 6:15
Wrestleback 1 - Nelson dec. Jake Esser, JC 3-0
Wrestleback 2 - Nelson pinned I. Simburger, Mary 2:27
Wrestleback 3 - Castillo, Menlo maj. dec. Nelson, 13-4
157 - Ryan Hall, 3-0, 1st place
Quarterfinals - Hall pinned Dustin Koskela, MSUN :15
Semifinals - Hall dec. Matt Steffenson, ICC 5-0
Championship - Hall dec. Cort Peterson, NWC 9-7
157 - Dale Seley, 3-1, 3rd place
Quarterfinals - Seley pinned Andy Passmore, Mary 4:52
Semifinals - Peterson, NWC dec. Seley, 10-9
Wrestleback 1 - Seley dec. Randy Mayes, DSU 4-2
Consolation - Seley win by default Passmore, Mary
165 - Aaron Jensen, 3-2, 5th place
First Round - Jensen dec. Andrew Moore, ICC 9-4
Quarterfinals - Ryan Valek, AUG pinned Jensen 3:39
Wrestleback 1 - Jensen dec. Scott Huckell, RCC 10-4
Wrestleback 2 - Kirk Rall, AUG dec. Jensen 10-2
Fifth-Sixth - Jensen dec. Art Martinez, DSU 7-3
174 - Jesse Juarez, 3-1, 2nd place
Quarterfinals - Juarez tech. fall Nick Small, JC 15-0
Semifinals - Juarez dec. Gabe Harry, DSU 7-5 OT
Championship - Joe Moon, AUG dec. Juarez, 6-0
174 - David Waters, 3-2, 4th place
First Round - Jesse Vasquez, Menlo dec. Waters 5-3
Wrestleback 1 - Waters pinned Nick Small, JC 1:21
Wrestleback 2 - Waters dec. Marc Banks, Menlo 4-3
Wrestleback 3 - Waters win by default Vasquez, Menlo
Consolation - Gabe Harry, DSU dec. Waters 8-0
174 - Emory Willson, 0-2
Quarterfinals - Joe Moon, AUG dec. Willson, 10-1
Wrestleback 1 - Pete Julander, NWC dec. Willson, 6-3
184 - Kyle Fisher, 3-0, 1st place
Quarterfinals - Fisher pinned Ryan Vincent, JC 4:32
Semifinals - Fisher dec. Brad Tupa, AUG 9-8
Championship - Fisher dec. E. Simburger, Mary 4-2
197 - Emmett Willson, 3-0, Co-Champ
First Round - Willson pinned Sam Sadek, DC 1:39
Quarterfinals - Willson pinned Andrew Neumann, AUG 1:43
Semifinals - Willson pinned Joe Cullen, AUG 1:40
Championship - default
197 - Mazi Burke, 2-0, Co-Champ
Quarterfinals - Burke pinned Chris Sogge, AUG 1:14
Semifinals - Burke dec. Justin Sorenson, AUG 9-0