OPENING ACT

-Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Fort Dodge graduate Damond Lockner wrestles against Iowa Western on Thursday inside Hodges Fieldhouse

For Luke Moffitt, November wrestling duals are the starting point to building a foundation for another NJCAA title run come March.

That’s why Thursday night’s triangular with Iowa Western and North Idaho wasn’t just about the final match results.

The sixth-ranked Tritons scored a 29-15 victory over the Reivers, falling to the No. 20 Cardinals, 20-19, inside Hodges Fieldhouse.

“We’ve got a long ways to go,” Moffitt said. “But we don’t want to be wrestling our best right now; we want to be doing that when it matters the most.”

Iowa Central and North Idaho are two of the more storied programs in all of NJCAA wrestling, with the Tritons laying claim to eight national titles and the Cardinals 14. Both teams have stretches of four consecutive crowns, with North Idaho last winning gold in 2013 and Iowa Central in 2017.

“We’ve wrestled (North Idaho) before out in Wyoming, but this was the first time they have came to our campus,” Moffitt said. “Give them credit, they pulled it out, but I’m looking forward to seeing them again down the road.”

Former Fort Dodge Senior High placewinner Damond Lockner went 2-0 on the night, scoring a pair of decisions at 141 pounds. Kevin Radcliff, ranked seventh at 125, also went 2-0, as did No. 2 Ethan Karstens and Ashton Eyler.

“Damond wrestled well,” Moffitt said. “He hit a bit of a wall there in the third period, but that is something we can fix without any problems. He’ll get more familiar with college wrestling as the season goes.

“Kevin and Ethan both had good nights, as did Ashton. We’ve got guys still trying to figure everything out in regards to where they are going to go, and once we do that, we’ll start to see marked improvements.”

Radcliff, Lockner, Yar Aldiva, Karsten, Eyler and Gunner Cash all had victories vs. Iowa Western, with Radcliff, Lockner, Karsten, Eyler and Noah Broderson scoring wins vs. North Idaho.

Broderson nearly pulled out the dual for the Tritons at heavyweight, almost recording a fall vs. Connor Sullivan in the final match of the night. The freshman went on to post a 3-0 decision in the end.

“That was a thrilling way to end it,” Moffitt said. “I thought we were going to clip them there at the end, but we’ll learn from this and get better, I have no doubts about that.”

North Idaho also claimed a 30-19 victory over Iowa Western in the opening dual of the night.

Iowa Central returns to action on Saturday at the Grand View Open. They wrestle next at home on Nov. 28 when they host NIACC.

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