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Northwestern College of Iowa Developing Men of Character On and Off Mat
“We want to generate All-Americans, but more importantly, we want to generate men of character who will be quality husbands, fathers, and men in society winning hearts for the Kingdom.”
– Rik Dahl, Head Coach, Norwestern College Red Raiders Wrestling
By Matt Krumrie
WIN Magazine Contributing Writer
Rik Dahl is in his 3rd season at the helm of Northwestern College Red Raiders wrestling team.
Under Dahl’s leadership, the Red Raiders have sent 16 wrestlers to the NAIA National Tournament and crowned four All-Americans. In addition, the 2009 Red Raider team was crowned the NAIA Champions of Character for their strong character and their impact in and around the Northwestern Community.
As a student at Northwestern College, Dahl was a wrestling All-American and team captain on the 1997 wrestling team that finished eighth at the NAIA Championships, the highest finish for a Northwestern squad. Dahl was a semi-finalists and took sixth place under coach Paul Bartlett.
He recently talked to WIN Magazine about the latest news and notes from the school located in Orange City, Iowa – in the northwest part of the state between Sioux Falls and Sioux City. Read what he had to say below:
Matt Krumrie: What’s going on with your wrestling team?
Dahl: We have learned to persevere this season. Early on we decided to redshirt two guys who could have added some depth to the lineup and moved us up in the rankings. However, it was in their best interest to sit out a year due to focus on academics. This hurts us in the upper weights. To add to that, we lost a quality 165 pounder in the first semester as he went back home and then lost Ethan Hackbarth (Utica, MN) for the 2nd year with a knee injury. Saying that, our lightweights have really kept us together and we are waiting on the rise of our heavyweight, Brad Hughes, who tends to be a late starter. Our young guys have learned the value of bonus points and not giving them up. Some of them are still learning!
MK: Who is wrestling well and what are they doing that stands out?
Dahl: Four guys come to mind. At 125, Angelo Quintana (Selma, CA) has developed into quite a starter for us. Since Christmas he has recorded an 11-3 record and has beaten some quality kids. More importantly, he has learned to be explosive in his west-coast style of wrestling complete with carries and crazy scrambles. In the past he was very passive in his wrestling and found himself in bad positions. He has learned to be more patient and is now able to rack up points and more recently been able to win those close 3-1 matches that he would become impatient in and do something careless.
Also wrestling well is Matt Dowell (Albany, MN). Matt has developed nicely for us and brings two years of experience with him into the season. Matt has proven his toughness on several occasions as he has had to wrestle hurt for us and has put together some monster tournaments. Since Christmas he is 7-5 and has placed at both the York Open and the tough Missouri Valley Invite.
Jerod Flores (Parker, AZ) has been a on a tear of late and finished 2nd in the past two tournaments. Since Christmas he has built a 10-2 record. He is currently ranked 6th in nation and is fun to watch. He is unique in his style and adds a crazy balance and with freakish athleticism. Since getting pounded by Herda, he has been developing a more aggressive attack and it has yielded a 25-10 record with 11 pins, 1 TF and 2 MD. He has a big test coming up in the next few weeks, but if he continues to make strides, he should fight for an AA spot in March.
Last but not least, Luke Evjen (Hayfield, MN) has recovered from an early season ankle injury and built a 16-7 record. He is a horse at 184 and has quietly put together a dominate season. His only losses have come from ranked opponents and he has managed to beat ranked kids from La Crosse, Grand View, and Coe. He is a grinder with great hips. His patience allows him to fight for position for most of the match and wear his opponents out. He then can pull the trigger in third where he often times pulls away or seals the win.
MK: What are some things people may not know about Northwestern College wrestling program?
Dahl: We are a Christian Liberal Arts college with a vision to impact our students academically, athletically and spiritually. Being in the hotbed of recruiting, we are able to pull in unique talent from around the country and have been able to bring together a diverse team (both culturally and style-wise). We preach a grinding style of wrestling and have had success getting “average” kids and making them contenders. What we are looking for in our guys is character. We will push our guys beyond where they think they can go (or want to go), but we desire to work with kids who are not afraid to work through adversity because they get that here with the rigor of a prestigious college and a tough schedule that includes exposure to some of the best teams in the NAIA, DII and DIII. We want to generate All-Americans, but more importantly, we want to generate men of character who will be quality husbands, fathers, and men in society winning hearts for the Kingdom.
MK: What are some things you see going on in NAIA wrestling that stand out to you?
Dahl: We are growing – I mean really growing. I think your small colleges are seeing the value wrestling adds for students. In addition, it is easy to start and there are hundreds of thousands of wrestlers looking for opportunity. In the past two years we have added close to 10 programs in the NAIA. We are losing some to DII and that is disheartening, but we continue to add. We are the first division to sponsor wrestling in the states of Georgia, Arkansas, and Texas (and now Florida with the recent announcement that Ave Maria University in Florida will add the sport). That is a testament to our mission as coaches to be ambassadors to the sport and build up or numbers. We have a ways to go as our goal is to get to 50 teams in the NAIA. We are close right now, but will lose five teams next season to DII. The NAIA is a strong, close-knit division with a nice balance of youth and experience in the coaching realm. I have been blessed to call on some great mentors in my short time in the NAIA – guys who want to see wrestling in the NAIA grow. I can honestly say, we are about the sport first. It is a blessing to be a part of.
About Matt’s Mat Notes
Matt’s Mat Notes is a new feature on WIN-Magazine.com which consists of news, notes and quotes related to developments on and off the mat in college wrestling. Author Matt Krumrie is the former editor of TheWrestlingMall.com and in addition to contributing to WIN Magazine and The Guillotine, is the author of the new book The Ultimate Guide to Wrestling Camps, a comprehensive guide featuring resources, tips and stories for parents and youth to high school-age wrestlers. If you have a story idea or suggestion, news, notes or tidbit, please email him at email@example.com