BY BREANN LENZMEIER
A busy winter break for the Dragons wrestling team saw the team travel to Arizona, and begin Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference dual wrestling. This was the second time the team has taken part in the Grand Canyon duals and went 1-3.
The Dragons defeated Simon Fraser University (B.C.) 33-8 but fell to Colorado Mesa, California Baptist and Grand Canyon.
“It’s a lot of wrestling in one day,” head coach Kris Nelson said.
After the trip the team went back to practice and continued to work on things to improve. Nelson said that the lineup has changed quite a bit from the beginning of the year, and that they have had to overcome injuries throughout the season.
The Dragons had their first NSIC dual against Northern State on Jan. 11 and came out with a 27-16 victory. Gerad Fugleberg, who won by pin in the match, led the team. The Dragons dual record was now 4-4 and 1-0 in NSIC action.
Next up was a trip to Mankato to take on the Mavericks in conference action. Blake Bosch got the Dragons started on the right foot with a pin in his match and the momentum carried throughout the dual. Both the Dragons and the Mavericks won five matches each, but it was the bonus points that pushed the Dragons to victory, winning 24-16.
Nelson pointed to wins by senior Connor MacGregor and junior Connor Monk as sparking the team to victory.
“Those two matches were big for us,” Nelson said.
This was the first time Nelson and the Dragons beat Minnesota State Mankato since he took over in 2009.
“Anytime you can beat Mankato is great … it helps our team build confidence, and it was one of our better duals,” Nelson said.
After the win the team travelled to Fayette, Iowa to face No. 10 Upper Iowa in NSIC action. Coming off their second straight NSIC dual win, the team looked to make it three in a row but fell short losing 28-12.
The Dragons did win four of the matches in the dual but gave up bonus points in a couple matches that gave the momentum to Upper Iowa.
Connor Monk won a hard fought match in the dual against Upper Iowa coming away with a 6-5 decision. Monk had built up riding time in the match and held on for the victory.
“Connor is strong in the top position, and he is a pinner which is always good,” Nelson said.
Senior Matt Lewellen continued his strong season with a 2-0 decision in the match. Shane Novak and Issac Novacek also won by decision in the match.
With the loss the Dragons dropped to 5-5 overall in duals and 2-1 in NSIC action.
The team returns home this week when they host Southwest Minnesota State and No. 3 St. Cloud State. Despite the loss to Upper Iowa, Nelson said he thinks the momentum going into Thursday’s dual is good.
“Our attitude is good, and there are a lot of competitive matches,” Nelson said.
The team won’t have to travel the rest of the regular season, and five out of the six remaining duals are NSIC duals. The team takes on cross town rival Concordia in the middle of the stretch of conference action.
Nelson said that it is a tough conference, and you have to bring your best every time you step out on the mat.
“You have to be ready to go every night, and there aren’t any easy wins in our conference,” he said.
With a young team the Dragons are looking to continually improve each day in the practice room and look to carry it over when they step out on the mat.
Match time is 7 p.m. on Thursday, as the team takes on Southwest Minnesota State. The Dragons close out the week at 2 p.m. on Saturday hosting No. 3 St. Cloud State. Both are NSIC duals.