By Rob Everingham
It was not just your average honor.
MSU-Northern wrestling coach David Ray received the NAIA Wrestling Coach of the Year Award after his Lights won their third-straight NAIA National title last weekend at St. Louis, Mo.
Ray is the first coach ever to receive the distinction three years in a row.
"I didn't expect this," Ray said.
Ray's record in five seasons now stands at 58-32-3 in dual meets. Ray went a combined 2-18 in his first two seasons at Northern.
Under Ray's direction, the Lights have claimed three national titles and set a new NAIA record this year with 11 All-Americans (colleges have only been allowed to bring 12 wrestlers since 1997).
"After two years, I thought they'd start giving it to someone else," Ray said about receiving the award.
Ray said it might be because the Lights came in ranked third, and knocked No. 1 Missouri Valley from contention.
It was the team that earned the honor, Ray said.
Ray said there were many more coaches that were deserving of the award, including coaches from Missouri Valley, the University of Mary, who came in ranked fourth and finished in third place.
Finally, Dickinson State, who also jumped up two spots, came in ranked sixth and finished fourth at Nationals.
Any of those three coaches could have won the award and, Ray said, he would not have even batted an eye.
The honor of receiving the award is neat but, Ray said, it is how the team performs and not just because you win a national title.
"It's an honor," Ray said. "Not a right."