For two teams separated by just a place in the conference standings, Friday's wrestling dual between Minot State and Southwest Minnesota State was certainly lopsided.
The Mustangs won eight of the nine matches contested and throttled MSU 44-3 at the MSU Dome.
SMSU (12-6 overall, 2-5 Northern Sun), which entered the match tied for seventh in the nine-team NSIC, narrowly missed a shutout, as MSU heavyweight Bobby Bartz took a 7-3 decision in the final match of the night for the Beavers' lone win.
Minot State University sophomore Marcus Polak, right, squares off with Southwest Minnesota State’s Codie Lane during their 157-pound match Friday at the MSU Dome.
"They have a nice dual meet team," MSU coach Robin Ersland said. "We wrestled Upper Iowa and got thumped (40-11), and they lost to Upper Iowa on criteria. They had a couple guys hurt and could've wrestled their full lineup, and then we'd have had a problem."
The Beavers (1-15, 0-8) had plenty of trouble sticking with SMSU anyway. The Mustangs led throughout every match but Bartz's win at heavyweight and a tightly contested bout at 157 pounds.
In that match, MSU sophomore Marcus Polak took led 3-2 after scoring an escape and a takedown in the first period. After starting in the down position in period two, Polak was violently slammed to his back by Codie Lane, who scored a two-point near fall.
Polak eventually escaped, but couldn't score a takedown in the remaining seconds to force overtime.
The Mustangs finished with four pins and a technical fall.
"I think from start to finish, our guys just went out there and got after it," SMSU coach Jesse Nelson said. "They set the tone of each match."
Up next for MSU is the regional tournament in Waterloo, Iowa, on Feb. 24.
Despite MSU's struggles in dual matches, Ersland was optimistic some of his wrestlers could qualify for nationals. MSU's most effective wrestler early this season, 174-pounder Matt Fetterley, didn't wrestle Friday but is expected to return to practice next week.
"If you place in the top four, you go to nationals, so you spend the whole year training for this tournament," Ersland said of the regional. "Hopefully we'll have Fetterley healthy and have everybody ready to go. I've had guys with losing records place at the regionals, go to nationals and be All-Americans. It's just, 'Are you hot on that day? And (do) you get the right draw?' "