By Kim Staudinger
The Montana State University-Northern Lights wrestlers are finally home after nearly two months of being on the road.
The Lights face Northwest College, a team they easily defeated 40-9 on Dec. 15 in Powell, Wyo. The dual is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. tonight at the Northern gym.
Northwest College, a junior college, is coming off a big tournament win Saturday. Competing in an 11-team tournament, Northwest won and defeated Iowa Central Community College, the top-ranked community college.
"They have good solid kids," Northern head coach David Ray said. "They are coached well. The kids have good solid fundamentals and compete with a lot of heart."
Having already wrestled against Northwest before, the Lights know what to expect, but, Ray said, both teams will have some new faces in the lineup.
Northern's Kyle Klonizos, at 165 pounds, and Carl Valley, at 125 pounds, will not be in action tonight. Valley, who wrestled at Northwest College before coming to Northern, is out with a back injury.
Layne Stewart, a heavyweight wrestler for Northwest, is also injured and is not expected to wrestle tonight. Ray also said he expects Northwest to forfeit its match at 141 pounds.
Northwest wrestlers to look for tonight are Kyle Kilgore, at 125 pounds, Michael Schwab, at 133 pounds, and returning All-Americans Loren Hutchins and Trevor Murray at 149 pounds and 165 pounds, respectively. Also on the Northwest squad is the Europe Junior World champion, Robert Roszkiewicz from Poland. Roszkiewicz wrestles at 197 pounds.
At the Dec. 15 dual, Valley won by decision 13-5 over Kilgore, Caleb Schaeffer won by fall in 3:23 over Schwab, Bobby Mantle won by decision 13-7 over Hutchins, and Emmett Willson won by decision 14-5 over Roszkiewicz. Murray picked up the only win for Northwest, defeating Brent Riggin 4-0.
Ray said one clear advantage his team has over Northwest is in the level of competition coming out of the practice room.
"They wrestle against freshmen and sophomores in the room," he said. "Our guys compete against juniors and seniors in the room. Our young kids become fairly tough that way."
Scheduled to wrestle tonight for the Lights are: Andy Thompson at 125 pounds, Caleb Schaeffer at 133 pounds, Eric Dunmire at 141 pounds, Bobby Mantle at 149 pounds, Trevor Floerchinger at 157 pounds, Dustyn Azure at 165 pounds, Kyle Fisher at 174 pounds, Tyson Thivierge at 184 pounds, Emmett Willson at 197 pounds, and Dane Jacobsen at heavyweight.
"The time and hard work we've put in should be starting to really show now," Ray said. "We're not really at where I think we're capable of being yet. I just want to see them hungry and excited and be ready to go out and compete. That's what you want to see in their faces and in their style of wrestling."
After tonight's dual with Northwest, the Lights take off for the Dickinson State University Invitational, a 16-team tournament in Dickinson, N.D.
"It's a good tournament," Ray said. "I just wish everyone would be healthy."