The degree of Matt Fetterley's success this season has been uncomfortable for him.
Minot State University's 174-pound wrestler has performed well enough to receive praise around campus, but not well enough to win the championships he covets.
Fetterley, a junior who redshirted last season, placed third at the North Dakota State University Open in MSU's first meet and finished fourth at the Concordia College Open on Saturday.
"I don't ever go into a tournament thinking I'm not going to win it," said Fetterley, the only Beaver placewinner in either event. "It's kind of hard because everybody's like, 'Oh, good job. Good job.' It's almost like a slap in the face for people to congratulate me for not winning."
Robin Ersland can relate, but his position as MSU coach has him taking the optimistic approach.
"I used to be the worst loser in the world," Ersland said. "But he's all upset about his losses and I'm like, 'I'm over here with 11 positives, and you're over here with two negatives.' As a coach, I'll take the 11 positives. We can work on the negatives."
Fetterley, who prefers to wrestle on his feet and shoot for takedowns, said he's aiming for an All-American season. In 2010 while wrestling for Muskegon (Mich.) Community College, Fetterley finished just outside the top eight in the national tournament, which left him one win short of being a junior college All-American.
Ersland said Fetterley, who had been ranked No. 1 in the country earlier that season, got sick in the run-up to the national tournament and couldn't perform at his best.
Fetterley remembers it differently.
"More or less, I peaked too early and then I choked," he said.
Fetterley took a year off after that season, redshirted for MSU last year and is just getting back into match form. With the redshirt year, Fetterley is on pace to graduate with a business management degree when his eligibility expires.
"Me being out of it for a year kind of took it away," Fetterley said. "I'm just getting that edge back."
The Beavers have their first dual match of the season at 7 p.m. Nov. 29 at the MSU Dome.
Men's basketball team beginning long layoff
The MSU men's basketball team began a 13-day layoff after an 86-27 mauling of Division III Northland College on Sunday.
After a couple of practices early this week, the team will be off today, Friday and Saturday before preparing for the Dec. 1 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference opener at the University of Mary.
MSU coach Matt Murken said the Beavers (1-2) will shore up some of the offensive and defensive sets they've put in before game planning for the Marauders.
"We've introduced a lot of stuff, but not really enough repetition where we're comfortable running everything in games," Murken said. "We'll be able to practice some more of that and get it ready to go."
Murken said the players began workouts on Aug. 20 and deserve a short break.
"It'll be nice to have a few days off, rest and recharge and come back ready to go," he said.