Robin Ersland appeared to be enjoying the show as he munched on popcorn during the late stages of Minot State University's 44-0 victory Thursday over the University of Regina (Sask.) at the MSU Dome.
"It keeps me from throwing things," joked Ersland, MSU's head wrestling coach. "Sometimes I throw the popcorn, but at least that goes backwards. ... I was trying to be relaxed and have the popcorn and not be too nervous about the match."
Ersland had no need to fret, as the Beavers dominated their first dual of the season. MSU had five pins in nine matches and won all but one of the remaining matches by four points or more.
Minot State University senior Marcus Wilson works on top of University of Regina 149-pounder Mark Ballon during the Beavers’ win Thursday at the MSU Dome.
"The lights are on, we got a nice crowd, so everybody's a little nervous," Ersland said. "We haven't backed off our training at all. We wanted to get after it, so all in all I thought we did a nice job."
Bobby Bartz (285-pound weight class), Cody Carpenter (141), Jon Wilson (157), Matt Fetterley (174) and Cody George (184) all pinned their Regina counterparts.
The most suspenseful bout of the day came at 149 pounds, where MSU senior Marcus Wilson edged the Cougars' Mark Ballon in a 7-6 decision. Wilson led 4-2 entering the third period, but Ballon scored four consecutive points on a takedown and a two-point near fall to take the lead.
Wilson responded with a reversal, took the top position and notched the victory after being rewarded one point for holding the riding-time advantage.
Wilson said he was confident he'd come out on top despite missing practices the last couple of weeks due to injury.
"I only had two practices before this so I knew I would be a little rusty," he said. "But I knew I wasn't going to lose."
Wilson's teammates also wrestled with confidence, controlling matches from the start. The lopsided final score didn't surprise Ersland, who said there's plenty of room for improvement.
"I think we've got some good guys," Ersland said. "We've been up and down a little bit and we've been beat up, but like they always say in our sport, 'It's the end of the year that counts.' As long as we get a little better each week, I'm a happy man."
The Beavers will compete in the Minnesota State-Moorhead Open beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday.