By Boots Gifford
The legacy of the Montana State-Northern wrestling program will be brought to life on Saturday when the current Lights face off with the Northern alumni at 4 p.m.
The wrestling match is just one part of the alumni celebration slated for the day at the Northern gym.
I think, from the wrestling standpoint, alumni weekend is great, said David Ray, coach of the back-to-back NAIA national champions. The alumni come back and meet the younger Lights that are carrying on their tradition. Its fun. Its a good social gathering and a great opportunity for the alumni to come back and feel a part of the wrestling program.
A chili feed is slated to follow the matches at the Gallery Lounge.
The alumni squad boasts five national champions, along with numerous All-Americans.
Its very competitive, Ray said, but added the format does cater to the alumni. Matches of three one-minute periods allow for skill, not necessarily conditioning, to be the focus.
Some exciting pairings will include national champion Chad Edgar going against Chris Hayes; Steve Komac, coach for Browning High School, taking on one of his former athletes, Tamian LaBuff; national champion Mark Lane pairing with Lights standout Tyson Thivierge, who placed third last year as a freshman; and All-American Rudy James taking on freshman Kyle Fisher of Havre.
There is still plenty to be learned during these exhibition matches, Ray noted, and he expects the Lights to give it their all. I want to see how they prepare themselves to compete and their intensity level do they stay focused, never let up.
The freshmen who hail from Montana may come face to face with some of their Lights heroes. But Ray said he doesnt expect them to back down.
I look at my freshmen and I dont see them intimidated, he said. Theyll look forward to the challenge. Itll be, Let me show you what I can do now.
The Lights have been in preseason practices for nearly three weeks.
This is a good bunch. Ive been working them pretty hard none of them are falling off, Ray said.
Returning seniors Nate Laslovich, Lyle Cronk, Damion Martindale, and Jessie Schaeffer, along with two-time national champion Turk Lords, a junior, are setting the pace for the Lights as they go after a third consecutive NAIA national championship.
Assisting Ray with the coaching duties are national champion Mark Lane and All-Americans Mike Lane and Rudy James.
The Lights first home event will be a takedown dual with the University of Calgary on Oct. 23.
Scheduled to compete at the alumni match will be:
Alumni vs. Lights
Matt Campbell (National Champion) vs. Abel Valdez
Steve Komac (National qualifier) vs. Tamien LaBuff
Chris Faber (3-time All-American) vs. Jessie Schaeffer
Chad Edgar (National Champion) vs. Chris Hayes
Fred Leavy (3-time All-American) vs. Lyle Cronk and Scott Berens
Rudy James (4-time All-American) vs. Kyle Fisher and Brendan Burns
Mike Mazurkiewicz (2-time All-American) vs. Tizer DeMers
Tom Rogers (All-American) vs. Sean Salmon
Mike Lane (2-time All-American) vs. Nate Laslovich and Emmett Willson
Mark Lane (National Champion) vs. Tyson Thivierge
Scott Filius (National Champion) vs. Dane Jacobsen
Anthony Taylor (3-time national runner-up) vs. Turk Lords
Mike Leinwand (National Champion) vs. Jeremy Kelsey