By Jason Shoot
Generally speaking, national tournaments provide the ultimate source of competition for athletes and serve as motivation for the course of the season.
This weekend, however, 10 members of the Montana State University-Northern wrestling team will grapple against some of the top wrestlers in the nation at any collegiate level at the Cliff Keen/NWCA National Duals at the Penn State University campus in Happy Valley, Penn.
The field will comprise of 13 teams that finished among the NCAA Division I top 21 schools last year, as well as NCAA Division II champion Nebraska-Omaha and NCAA Division III champion Montclair State.
The NCAA Division I field is headed by top-ranked Oklahoma State, but the Cowboys are not a sure lock to walk away with the team title.
The field consists of eight of the top nine schools at Division I, including defending national champion Iowa.
Turk Lords (20-1 this season) will lead Northern, the smallest school of the 16 competing, in the 197-pound weight class.
Jason Fratzke (24-4) will wrestle at 141 pounds.
Tyson Thivierge (24-5) will represent the Lights at 184 pounds.
Caleb Schaeffer (28-5) is slated to wrestle at 133 pounds.
Abel Valdez (18-3) will be Northern's representative at 125 pounds.
Dustyn Azure (19-6) will wrestle at 149 pounds.
Kyle Fisher (19-9) is set to grapple at 165 pounds.
Bobby Mantle (18-13) is slated to wrestle at 157 pounds.
Emmett Willson (10-7) will wrestle at 174 pounds.
Matt Hoover (5-3) will be the Lights' wrestler in the heavyweight division.
While this contingent of wrestlers will be on the opposite side of the nation, Northern coach David Ray is sending another squad to the Marauder Invitational in Bismarck, N.D.
The squad consists of Kyle Nay (141 pounds), Kurt Lorenz (141), Brent Riggin (149), Scott Riggin (149), Neil Samoy (157), Trevor Floerchinger (157), Scott Berens (157), Kyle Klonizos (174), Mark Nay (197) and Dan Eaves (Hwt).