By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editoremail@example.com
Dual matches in wrestling aren't the same as other sporting events like basketball, football or baseball.
Because the overall outcome still comes down to individual matches, it's much easier to predict winners of duals.
That being said, Montana State University-Northern wrestling coach David Ray isn't being cocky or overconfident when he admits that it's not whether or not his team will win its dual tonight against the University of Mary or the one tomorrow against Northwest College, it's by how much.
The Lights and Mary will square off tonight at 7 p.m. at the MSU-Northern gymnasium.
With the Marauders forfeiting a pair of weights and suiting up five freshmen, a Lights' victory is pretty much assured. But winning the dual isn't just enough for Ray - it never has been.
Instead, he expects to see his wrestlers come out with the same intensity and aggressiveness they displayed in dominating last weekend's Dickinson State Open Classic, scoring 168 team points.
"I want to see the same energy," Ray said. "We want to maintain that intimidation factor any time we step on the mat. We want to go out and set the tone."
The Marauders finished tied for third at the DSU tourney with 54 points, which is a good showing, considering Mary is still in a bit of transition phase.
Head coach Josh Kerbaugh enters his second year at the helm and is in the process of building Mary's program. Kerbaugh wrestled at North Dakota State University where he was a member of the 1998 National Championship team
He also served as a graduate assistant at South Dakota State University, under former Northern coach Jason Liles.
"He's trying to raise the level of the program," Ray said. "It takes time. They have a lot of young kids, but they do have some solid individuals at a few weights."
At 184 pounds, junior Elijah Simburger is ranked fourth in NAIA and won last week's DSU open classic. Simburger didn't face Northern's Jesse Juarez in the tournament. His teammate, Todd Paszek, a former NCAA Division II All-American, defeated Juarez in the semifinals.
At 165 pounds, freshman Ben Imidieke is a talented newcomer who won five state championships in high school.
"In North Dakota, you can wrestle at state in seventh and eighth grade," Ray said. "He won five championships and is solid."
Imidieke won three matches at the DSU Classic, but he will have to face Northern's Aaron Jensen, who won the 165-pound division last week and had one of his best showings of the season.
Mary also had a solid wrestler in junior Jack Lindsay at 197 pounds. Lindsay finished third in Dickinson, defeating Northern's Josh Robinson in the consolation semifinals along the way. As of press time, Lindsay wasn't a certainty in the Mary line-up. If he can't go, sophomore Jesse Laber will go instead.
Northern will suit up Brian Fritchman at 197 for the dual. Fritchman sat out last weekend with a sore shoulder, but is ready to go for tonight.
Following tonight's dual, Ray and his team will load up and head south to face Northwest College in Powell, Wyo.
Northern defeated Northwest 22-18 on Dec. 10 in Havre. Despite winning six matches, the overall score was close because the Lights gave up two pins.
Ray doesn't expect it to be quite as close this time.
"The match at 125 will be tough because Seth Wright is an All-American and is an outstanding wrestler," Ray said. "But our line-up has gotten much stronger since that first dual. Realistically, I expect us to win nine of the 10 matches."
While the dual wins are almost assured, there is a more important purpose to them.
"We need the mat time," Ray said. "It's very important for us to continue to get out there and compete and maintain that level of intensity. And it's always nice to compete at home in front of our fans."
WT MSU-N vs. U of Mary
125 - Zach Morgan, Fr vs. Open
133 - Brian Luna, Sr vs. Travis Stone, Fr
141 - Chris Smith, So vs. Josh Bauer, Fr
149 - Dustyn Azure, Sr vs. Open
157 - Stryder Davis, Sr vs. Andy Passmore, Soph
165 - Aaron Jensen, Jr vs. Ben Imdieke, Fr
174 - Ryan Mattingly, Jr vs. David Oliver, Fr
184 - Jesse Juarez, Sr vs. Elijah Simburger, Jr
197 - Brian Fritchman, Fr vs. Jack Lindsay, Jr
HWT - Chase Gormley, Jr vs. Keith McCleary, Fr