Havre Daily News Sports Editor
It isn't competition against an archrival, or even another school for that matter. But tonight the Montana State University-Northern wrestling team will find out a lot about itself as it holds its annual Maroon and Gold scrimmage at 7:30 p.m.
Tonight's intrasquad dual at the MSU-Northern Fieldhouse will feature few familiar faces, as the Lights have reloaded their roster because of several key losses to graduation. In fact, only five of the 28 wrestlers on the Lights' roster saw extensive action a year ago.
Those five include seniors Mazi Burke and Havre native Aaron Jensen. Sophomores Chris Smith, Brian Fritchman and Emory Willson are also back from a Lights team that finished out of the trophies for the first time in years at the 2004 NAIA National Championships.
Gone from that Lights team are three national champions, as well as the head coach. Stryder Davis, Jesse Juarez and Brian Luna all captured national titles last season and all three are now departed. Juarez, however, remains in Havre as an assistant coach for the Lights.
Gone is the ultra-successful head coach David Ray, who left the program after his wife took a job as a school principal in Alaska. The Lights are now under the guidance of former NCAA All-American and former Fort Benton wrestling coach Dan Troupe.
Aside from a new head coach, the Lights will also have a lot of fresh faces this season, and youth will be obvious up and down the roster. Currently, MSU-N's roster features 18 freshmen. Some of the freshmen to watch include Great Falls native Tom Daniels (141), Tyler McGillvary of Superior (133) and former Havre High standout Chad Seely (184).
Troupe also has an outstanding group of out-of-state recruits this season, led by eight wrestlers from Washington state. While it remains to be seen which wrestlers will crack the starting lineup for the Lights this season, with 18 freshmen on the roster there is no doubt there will be a lot of youth wrestling for the MSU-N varsity this season.
The Lights also have some talent in the lineup in the form of transfers and sophomores. Former Great Falls High standout Kole Tolliver makes his way to MSU-N and should make an immediate impact in the NAIA. Tolliver will likely wrestle at 149 for the Lights this season. Sophomores Michael McPeak (133) and Zach Morgan (125) also saw limited action for the Lights last season, and both will be vying for full-time varsity spots.
No matter how young the Lights are, they will gain experience quickly due to Northern's aggressive schedule. After tonight's intrasquad dual, the Lights will open the regular season at powerful North Idaho College on Saturday night. In the month of November, the Lights will travel to the Cowboy Open, hosted by the University of Wyoming.
December has the Lights in Las Vegas to face some of the top competition in the NCAA, and they will also travel to the prestigious Midlands Invitational in Evanston, Ill.
This year's Northern Regional will be held in Jamestown, N.D., at the end of February, and the 2006 NAIA National Tournament will be held in Sioux City, Iowa., on March 3-4.
2005-06 Lights Roster
Ty Aiken 157, Fr, Clarkston, Wash.
A.J. Bartels 125, Fr, Mesa, Ariz.
Steven Boger 141, Fr, Gillette, Wyo.
Mazi Burke 197, Sr, Torrance, Calif.
Jacob Byl Hwt, Fr, Conconcully, Wash.
Sean Costello 125, Fr, Kodiak, Alaska
Tom Daniels 141, Fr, Great Falls
Colter Dimas 174, Fr, Poplar
Brian Fritchman 197, So, Orofino, Idaho
Ben Hawk Hwt Fr, Roy, Wash.
Colt Heger 133, Fr, Asotin, Wash.
Aaron Jensen 165, Sr, Havre
Matt Kilmartin 141, Fr, Caledonia, Mich.
Tre Leckbe 174, Fr, Onalaska, Wash.
Andrew Leichnam Hwt, Jr, Plains
Ryan Mattingly 184, Sr, Vashon Island, Wash.
Tyler McGillvray 133, Fr, Superior
Michael McPeak 133, So, Clarkston, Wash.
Zach Morgan 125, So, Selah, Wash.
Austin Ouellette 157, Fr, Missoula
Josh Robinson 197, Fr, Butte
Chad Seely 184, Fr , Havre
Chris Smith 141, So, Wyoming, Mich.
Kole Tolliver 149, Jr, Great Falls
Jake Walter 174, Fr, Omack, Wash.
Jake Wamsher 197, Fr, East Wanatchee, Wash.
Emory Willson 174, So, Shepherd