By Jason Shoot
Athletes and coaches alike are sometimes a little too eager to be pleased to simply eke out a victory just because it puts a mark in the win column.
Montana State University-Northern wrestling coach David Ray is not one of those people.
Northern came away with a 24-19 win over Northwest College last night in a dual meet at Northern Fieldhouse, but Ray felt the score should have been much more lopsided in the Lights' favor.
"(Northwest) came in and outwrestled us," Ray said. "We won because we had a little more ability, but they beat us in three matches because they had more heart.
"They beat us at 141 (Kyle Nay), 57 (Bobby Mantle) and 65 (Kyle Fisher). They just don't have it here," Ray said, pointing to the middle of his chest. "(133-pounder) Jason Fratzke started the trend. Instead of being aggressive we were flat-footed and looked really flat."
Northern's Emmett Willson opened the dual with a convincing 18-3 win over Travis Franklin at 174 pounds, and teammate Tyson Thivierge defeated Ivan Bigney 13-4 at 184 pounds to give the Lights a 9-0 lead.
197-pounder Turk Lords then received a victory via forfeit to give Northern a 15-0 advantage.
But Northwest's Matt Carter (heavyweight) earned an 11-2 win over Dan Eaves and 125-pounder Kyle Kilgore received a forfeit victory to close Northern's lead to 15-10.
Fratzke defeated Northwest's Levi Martinez 10-4, but several times failed to take advantage of open opportunities to score additional points. The win gave Northern an 18-10 lead overall in the team scoring.
In the 141 match, Nay came back from a 5-2 deficit to Blake Gunter with an escape and a quick takedown with a minute remaining in the match to knot the score at 5-all. But Gunter continued pressing the Lights wrestler and eventually earned an escape of his own with 22 seconds left to squeak out a 6-5 win and cut Northern's overall lead to 18-13.
At 149 pounds, Northern wrestler Dustyn Azure locked opponent Travis Jacobson in a cradle and quickly secured the pin with 31.3 seconds left in the first round to give the Lights an almost-insurmountable 24-13 lead with just two matches remaining.
Northwest's Trevor Murray closed the gap to 24-16 with a 10-6 win over Mantle at 157 pounds, but Murray needed a pin or technical fall to keep his school's chances alive.
"That's the second JV guy (Mantle's) lost to this year," Ray said. "Overall, I'm very displeased."
Pete Julander outscored Northern 165-pounder Fisher 3-0 in the final round to finish with a 5-3 victory and provide the final overall score.
The Lights will travel to Coeur d' Alene, Idaho, to face host North Idaho and Lassen College. Lassen is ranked second in the NJCAA, and North Idaho isn't far behind at third.