By Boots Gifford
The Montana State-Northern Lights take on Western Wyoming College of Rock Springs, Wyo., in a wrestling dual tonight, then travel to Pueblo, Colo., to enter the Southern Colorado Open on Saturday.
"They're young," said Lights coach David Ray of the Western Wyoming crew. "But their kids go out and wrestle with a lot of heart. They give us good goes."
While the Lights traditionally prevail against the Wyoming team, there are some challenges they will face.
"The elevation is about 6,200. Our guys aren't use to that elevation," Ray said. "Also, (Western Wyoming) has nothing to lose."
The Lights will be forfeiting at 133 pounds with Kurt Lorenz out sick. But Lorenz should be back on the mat next week, Ray said.
The Southern Colorado Open brings together a large number of NCAA Division II teams such as Western States, Colorado State, Adams State, Southern Colorado, and more. NAIA rival Embry Riddle Aeronautical of Arizona will also be competing, along with several top-ranked junior colleges.
"It's a great opportunity for us to see (Embry Riddle)," Ray said.
The Lights will take 20 wrestlers to the Open.
"This (tournament) is a step above last week (at the Northwest Wyoming Open). It'll be about 70 percent of what our national tournament will be," Ray said. "It will be a good test."
Besides a good test of what the Lights have to put on the mat, these open tournaments give the Lights a chance to qualify competitors for the NAIA national championship tournament. At last week's tournament, any wrestler who placed first automatically has a berth at the national finals. At the Southern Colorado Open, because of the large number teams entered, the top four placers in each weight class will garner a national berth.