By Kim Staudinger
The Montana State University-Northern Lights have two home wrestling dual meets this weekend, but unfortunately, Saturday will be the last time they will be home this season.
The Lights are home tonight facing Ricks College and Saturday against Western Wyoming College. Both meets are at 7 p.m.
As the season starts to wind down, head coach David Ray said three weight classes still are of concern to him. Ray said he is looking for some consistency from his wrestlers at 149, 157 and 165 pounds.
"They need to turn it around," he said. "It's getting down to the wire, getting to be crunch time."
The Lights faced Ricks College in a dual meet on Dec. 8, winning 33-18. The Lights lost four individual duals and won six in the meet. Two of the wrestlers who lost at Ricks will not be wrestling tonight.
"I think we're in a position to win every match," Ray said. "But we are going to have to wrestle our butts off to beat them at 57 and 65."
Ray is referring to brothers B.J. and Jake Wright who wrestle at 157 and 165 pounds, respectively. In the Lights previous dual with Ricks, B.J. wrestled at 149 pounds and Jake at 157 pounds.
B.J. and Jake are younger brothers to Lights' wrestler Josh Wright. Josh is coming off a knee injury and will not be wrestling tonight.
Ray said B.J. Wright, who defeated Dustyn Azure in December, is the toughest wrestler for Ricks. Jake, who defeated Bobby Mantle 6-5, placed third in the Junior College National Championships in 1999. Tyson Thivierge will also have his hands full at 184 pounds, taking on Steve Babcock, a returning All-American. In December, Thivierge defeated Babcock by technical fall in 5:24.
Bob Christensen, the head coach of Ricks College, has been coaching for 34 years 18 of them at Ricks. Ray said Ricks College has only been shutout once in that time. The shutout came at the hands of the Lights when Ricks visited Northern in a past dual.
"They come out and wrestle hard and wrestle tough," Ray said of Ricks.
This will be the last year that Ricks College will be coming to Northern to wrestle. The college is dropping its athletic programs after this semester, Ray said. The college is in the process of becoming BYU-Idaho.
On Saturday the Lights will meet Western Wyoming College. A full roster was unavailable for Western Wyoming, but Ray said their top wrestler is Pat Garcia at 133 pounds.
Although Ray feels his Lights should easily win both meets, he has one final reminder for his team.
"The time and effort they put in will directly influence the results," he said. If they lack "time and effort, the results may not be as desirable."
The following are the matchups for tonight's dual meet with Ricks College:
125 Carl Valley vs. Tyler Price
133 Caleb Schaeffer vs. Jesse Breinholt
141 Eric Dunmire vs. Kristian Beckett
149 Bobby Mantle vs. Cody Fehlberg
157 Dustyn Azure vs. B.J. Wright
165 Kyle Klonizos vs. Jake Wright
174 Kyle Fisher vs. David Anderson
184 Tyson Thivierge vs. Steve Babcock
197 Emmett Willson vs. Renn Christensen
HWT Matt Carter vs. Robert Perkes