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Iowa heads west for an unusual dual meet.

Rachel Jessen (Iowa Wrestling Photos)

#2 Iowa (15-0, 9-0 B1G) vs UR Montana State Northern (9-1)

Date: Friday, February 12, 2016
Time: 8 PM CT
Location: Havre, Montana (Armory Gymnasium)
TV/Streaming: none
Radio: Hawkeye Radio Network (free); Hawkeye All-Access ($); Tune-In Radio
Twitter: @IowaWRLive@IAWrestle
Tickets: n/a

Iowa wrestling wrapped up the Big Ten portion of their regular season last Friday evening, smashing Indiana 45-0 to lock up at least a share of the Big Ten regular season championship.  Tournament season is just around the corner -- the Big Ten Tournament gets underway in three weeks and the NCAA Tournament is just over a month away -- but Iowa still has a pair of dual meets left, too.  NWCA National Duals is coming up next week (which we'll discuss more in a bit), but this week Iowa is heading out of state to... Havre, Montana?  To face Montana State Northern, an NAIA team?  Yes and yes.  So why are they doing that? Hawk Central's Andy Hamilton got to the bottom of things:

This is a wrestling goodwill trip.

"We look to get out and promote, and we haven't been out west (lately)," Iowa coach Tom Brands said. "It's important to get out to other corners of the wrestling world that don't see this type of program in their neck of the woods. I think this is a good thing."

Montana State-Northern coach Tyson Thivierge thought he was being pranked when Iowa officials reached out to express their interest in making a trip to Havre, Montana. It was the same reaction he had nearly 15 years earlier as an athlete when David Ray, a former Simpson and Iowa assistant and then the head coach of the Northern Lights, told his team that Terry Brands was joining the program as a member of his staff.


"I'm still trying to make sense of this, to tell you the God's honest truth," Thivierge said. "This is a big deal for our program, for the state of Montana. This is like Alabama coming to play our university's football team. That's how I've associated it. ... This is something that really helps our university. It helps our community in so many ways."

So that's why.

Adds K.J. Pilcher at The Gazette:

Any competition is beneficial. Wrestlers receive another opportunity to fine tune their routine, preparing for the next event, regardless of the opponent or organization. They get a chance for live action and face a hungry opponent.

"They have a pretty good heavyweight," Tom Brands said. "It doesn't matter what level they are. A guy has two arms, two legs and a brain he's going to go out there and try to beat you."

Sometimes (ROBLES ROBLES ROBLES) they don't even need two legs!

Sure, from a competition standpoint it would be more exciting to see Iowa face someone like Virginia Tech or Lehigh or Missouri.  Or if they were insistent on heading out west, plug in Oregon State or Arizona State or CSU Bakersfield (currently leading the Pac 12 -- no, really!) if you prefer.  It's hard to imagine Iowa's wrestlers getting much of a competitive boost from wrestling NAIA wrestlers -- albeit very good NAIA wrestlers -- and if you want to gripe about Iowa using up one of their competitive dates for this dual (after already using one on the Iowa City Duals, which also featured a lot of non-Division I competition), I get it.  But wrestling is a unique community and sometimes it's just nice to do something good for a smaller program.

This isn't the first time Iowa has tangled with Montana State Northern -- they beat the Northern Lights (yes, that is their real nickname) 50-0 back in 1995. I'd expect a similar result tonight.

NOTE: All rankings for Montana State-Northern wrestlers are NAIA rankings.  All rankings for Iowa wrestlers are from Intermat.

125: #2 Thomas Gilman (JR, 19-0) vs. #5 Quintel Fuchs (FR, 23-9)
133: #3 Cory Clark (JR, 17-1) vs. UR Blake Ivie (FR, 25-14)
141: UR Topher Carton (JR, 10-5) or UR Brody Grothus (SR, 3-3) vs. #5 Matt Weber (FR, 21-9)
149: #2 Brandon Sorensen (SO, 20-0) vs. #11 Drake Randall (FR, 24-12)
157: #18 Edwin Cooper, Jr. (SR, 12-6) vs. UR Brandon Weber (RS FR, 27-10)
165: UR Burke Paddock (RS FR, 10-5) or UR Patrick Rhoads (SR, 9-8) vs. UR Andrew Bartel (RS FR, 13-11)
174: #10 Alex Meyer (JR, 18-2) vs. #7 Willie Miller (35-9)
184: #11 Sammy Brooks (JR, 18-2) vs. UR Dace Fisher (RS FR, 4-24)
197: #4 Nathan Burak (SR, 17-1) vs. #1 Garrett DeMers (JR, 30-4)
285: #7 Sam Stoll (RS FR, 18-2) vs. #2 Toby Cheff (SR, 10-3)

I'm not going to do individual predictions because it seems a bit pointless.  This is Iowa, one of the best teams in Division I, taking on Montana State Northern, an NAIA team.  They're a very good NAIA team... but they're still an NAIA team.  Any result other than an enormous Iowa win would be very surprising.

As far as I know, there's no video coverage of this dual meet available.  (There's nothing listed on the Iowa site or the Montana State Northern site.)  There will be radio coverage of the dual -- Steven Grace and Matt McDonough will be on the call on AM 800 KXIC and Hawkeye All-Access. I'll try to post regular updates and results in the comments, but feel free to add your own as well.

The usual rules apply.