By Rob Everingham
It's the toughest competition Northern will see all year, but Lights' head wrestling coach David Ray said it is an opportunity members of his team could not pass up.
Five Northern wrestlers will be off to Evanston, Ill., for the Midlands. The Lights are the only NAIA school in attendance at the meet.
Jesse Schaeffer, Lyle Cronk, Chris Hayes, Mark Lane, and Sean Salmon will all be attending with Hayes being the only newcomer. Salmon finished in sixth place when he went as a freshman, two years ago.
Ray said this will give Salmon a chance to see how far he has come from two years ago.
Northern's most dominate wrestler Turk Lords will not be able to attend the meet due to illness.
"It would be nice to have Turk," Ray said.
Ray said it would help if they could take two wrestlers who have placed in the meet before, but Lords' staying home is in his best interest.
As far as those who are going, Ray said, it shows them their strong and weak points.
If they can beat a NCAA Division I wrestler or a Division II wrestler, Ray said, it will give them great confidence.
But, if they lose they can just go back to the drawing board and work harder, he continued.
This will be Northern's third year at the Midlands after being on a waiting list. This will also be the second year Northern could take five wrestlers. Ray said it would be nice to maybe have seven go, but he is unsure if he could get that many of his wrestlers to work before Christmas and then wrestler right after.
The five practiced once on Monday and then twice a day since then. Ray said they will take off today, have a light workout on Saturday, and then leave for the meet on Sunday.
"This is a neat tournament, with the best in the nation there," Ray said. "It's great to just witness."
The Lights will be back in action as a team on Jan. 5, as they travel to Rexburg, Idaho, to take on Ricks College.
Northern demolished the Vikings in a dual on Nov. 6, 39-0.