By Ryan Divish
After beating up on each other last weekend, the Montana State University-Northern wrestling team gets the chance to beat up on someone else today. The Lights will host Dickinson State University tonight at 7 p.m. in a dual match at the MSU-Northern gymnasium.
After an early home dual against the University of Calgary, the prospect of wrestling at home again has Lights head coach David Ray and his team excited.
"We need another match at home," Ray said. "I like having home matches it gives us a chance to put the team out there and let them perform so fans can see how good they are."
The team that Ray will put on the mat tonight isn't quite at full strength. The Lights are still without Mike Lester at 184 lb. and Matt Carter (heavyweight), who is clearing up some eligibility issues, will also not be on the mat. Besides those two, Ray was still unsure of senior all-American Andy Thompson' s (125 lb.) status. Thompson hasn't practiced this week after he had a reaction from cutting weight last weekend.
Ray will move Kyle Fisher, who normally competes at 174 lb., to 184 while senior Trevor Floerchinger will wrestle at 174. Freshman Andrew Leichtnam will replace Carter while Ray wasn't sure what he would do if Thompson can't go.
"We're not at full strength," Ray said. "But I am kind of glad that they don't appear to be at full strength either."
Ray noticed about three solid wrestlers, who he expected to compete for DSU not in their lineup. Instead, the Blue Hawks will bring a lineup that is without a senior and features four juniors, five sophomores and a freshman.
"I don't know if they're hurt or what," Ray said. "But they're missing some guys. They're bringing up a young team."
But it is a team that does have some talent. One wrestler in particular, Ray is very familar with. Junior Kyle Nay will be DSU's wrestler at 149. Nay is a former Light wrestler, who transferred to Dickinson in search of a chance to wrestle at the NAIA National tournament.
"Kyle was a good wrestler," Ray said. "But he always seemed to be the odd guy out going to Nationals. We take 12 guys and he would be the thirteenth."
Nay, whose brother Mark is a Lights football player, will square off against Lights senior Dustyn Azure in what shapes up to be a quality match.
Other matches that figure to be extremely competitive are at 174 where Floerchinger will meet DSU's Gabe Harry, and at 141 where senior all-American Eric Dunmire will face junior A.J. Fonseca.
"Gabe Harry is probably the toughest guy on their team," Ray said. "And Fonseca at 141 is also very tough."
Ray feels confident about the meet following a pair of intrasquad dual meets last weekend.
"This is regular college dual with seven-minute matches and riding time," Ray said. "The intrasquads gave us two seven-minute matches to prepare. They also kept everyone on track as far as watching and controlling their weight, preparing them mentally and keeping them focused."
No one could ever accuse Ray of not wanting to win, in fact he wants to win every match of every dual. But he also sees the big picture when it comes to the importance of this meet and this weekend's Northwest Open in Powell, Wyo..
"These are good warm-ups for the Cowboy Open in two weeks," Ray said. "It's a progression with every meet getting a little tougher preparing us for when we head to Las Vegas in December."