By Rob Everingham
Wrapping up the regular season, the MSU-Northern Lights wrestling team carries a 10-4 dual record into its final dual of the season this weekend against Dickinson State.
Northern will again be on the road as it heads to North Dakota for the dual.
The Lights are ranked No. 1 in the nation, while Dickinson is currently ranked No. 9.
When the two teams met earlier this season at the Dickinson State Classic, the Blue Hawks placed first and the Lights finished second at the tournament that was held on Jan. 15 at Dickinson.
Lights head coach David Ray said he is unsure of whom they will face at 125 pounds and 133 pounds, but, Ray said, he is confident in his wrestlers.
At 141 pounds, Northern's Jessie Schaeffer will have a tough match.
Schaeffer is ranked No. 4 and the Blue Hawks' Jesse Beckler is ranked No. 5 in the nation. Ray said that the last time the two met Schaeffer won.
Lyle Cronk, at 149 pounds, will have his work cut out for him. Cronk won the last meeting over Wade Blankenbaker, 3-2. Ray said this will be a very important match for them.
At 157 pounds, Dickinson's Dustin Matson is ranked ahead of Brenden Burns. Ray said this will be another close match.
Chris Hayes will be at 165 pounds against Brett Nedens. Nedens is currently ranked No. 1 in the weight class and beat Hayes that last time the two met.
This turn should be easier for the Lights at 174 pounds, as senior Mark Lane should pick up the win at 174 pounds, Ray said.
At 184 pounds, Tyson Thivierge will face Jacob Huebsch. Ray said Thivierge is favored in that matchup.
Defending national champion Turk Lords will go head-to-head with Matt Meyer. Lords has won the last couple of times these two have met, Ray said.
At heavyweight, Damion Martindale placed higher than his opponent Jason Akerman at nationals last year.
Ray said he feels confident at five weight classes, but said the other five or so are up for grabs.
This is a very important dual for the Lights, Ray said. It is important from a team stand point. Ray said they need to come together and wrestle as a team and support each other.
Ray expects everyone to work up to their potential and be consistent.
"We don't have time to go back to the drawing board, four weeks and we're done," Ray said.
Overall, this season has seen its ups and downs for the Lights.
Two of their four dual losses came at the NWCA National Duals against NCAA opponents. Ray said the loss against Finley this year was early and the Lights did not have their full team. The other loss against Ricks College (Idaho) was just a mental letdown, Ray said.
"But, I can't complain," Ray said.