Ray also signs three recruits
The future of the Montana State University-Northern wrestling program has taken a dramatic turn for the better in recent days.
Coach David Ray has announced the signing of three recruits to his team, and two members from this year's squad were named to the All-American all-rookie team.
Amateur Wrestling News named Lights wrestlers Emmitt Willson and Dustyn Azure to its rookie team for their performances this year. The team includes wrestlers from any collegiate level from NCAA Division I to NAIA Division II.
Both wrestlers were rated fifth nationally in their respective weight classes by the AWN.
Willson, placed third at 174 pounds at the NAIA national tournament and finished with a 24-8 varsity record for the season.
One of his wins included an 8-5 defeat of North Idaho's Nathan Pascoe at the Pacific Lutheran Tournament in January. Pascoe would later go on to win the junior college national championship and was named the national tournament's outstanding wrestler.
Four NCAA Division I wrestlers were ranked ahead of Willson on the rookie team.
Competing at 149, Azure placed fourth at the NAIA national tourney and finished the season with a 22-9 record.
He was surpassed on the rookie team by three NCAA Division I and one NCAA Division II wrestlers.
Ray also announced he has signed highly-touted Dustin May from Derby, Kan. to a national letter-of-intent.
May, a 2001 Wrestling USA All-American, was a four-time state champ at Class 6A and heavily recruited by NCAA power Oklahoma State.
He chose Northern, however, due to several factors the program's competitive schedule, outdoor activities available and even cold weather.
"I was thrilled when Dustin told me he was not interested in Division I," Ray said. "Dustin is a very talented young man who has yet to reach his potential, but like all in-coming freshmen he will have to make that mental transfer from competing the high school to college level."
May, who finished his prep career with a 113-6 record, was a two-time Cadet World Freestyle Team alternate and placed third in the Cadet Greco Roman Team trials.
Ray said May will compete at either 133 or 141 pounds. He also said the new recruit will enter the school's civil engineering technology program.
May is the son of Tony and Lori May of Derby, Kan.
Ray also announced he has signed Havre standout Aaron Jensen to a letter-of-intent.
Jensen placed second at 152 pounds in the Class A state tournament this year, compiling a season mark of 29-4.
"Aaron is one of those wrestlers that will bring a higher intensity level to the Northern wrestling room," Ray said. "He works very hard and would spend 24 hours a day on the mat if he could."
Jensen is the son of Renee Jensen and Dave Wassman.
Northern will also signed JC transfer Mike Lester.
Lester, of Clear Lake, Iowa, was a two-time All-American at Iowa Central Community College, placing fifth and sixth nationally at 165 pounds the past two seasons.
"(Lester) is a pinning specialist and will go for the pin anytime during a match," Ray said. "Mike will be very exciting to watch."
Lester, who was undefeated in 36 matches his senior year of high school en route to a state championship, is an automotive major transferring with a 3.8 gpa.