The North Dakota State wrestling team (10-8, 5-0 WWC) will travel to Laramie, Wyo., on Saturday, Mar. 9, for the Western Wrestling Conference Tournament/NCAA West Regional. The tournament will begin at 1 p.m. (CT) in the Arena-Auditorium, with finals scheduled to start at 7 p.m. (CT).
About the NCAA West Regional
The NCAA has awarded 16 automatic bids for the West Regional/WWC Championships — one in each weight class, plus four at 125 pounds, three at 149 pounds, and two at 157 pounds. The WWC had 22 wrestlers named in the final Coaches’ Panel Rankings and Rating Percentage Index (RPI) for the 2012-13 wrestling season.
Regular Season WWC Champs
NDSU defeated South Dakota State 36-9 on Feb. 15 to finish the Western Wrestling Conference season with a perfect 5-0 record and win the regular-season title outright. The title was NDSU’s first Division I conference championship. The Bison won 17 North Central Conference titles in the NCAA Division II ranks from 1979-2004.
Bison Look to Break Through
NDSU will be looking to notch its highest finish ever at the NCAA West Regional on Saturday. The Bison have alternated fourth- and third-place team finishes every year since joining the WWC in 2007. NDSU finished third with 51.5 points in 2012.
NCAA tournament spots from the NCAA West Regional, like all qualifying events, will be awarded at the WWC Tournament based solely on place-finish. Each qualifying tournament was awarded spots per weight class based on current year data. Each wrestler was measured on the following: Division I winning percentage; rating percentage index (RPI); and coaches’ ranking.
For each wrestler that reached the threshold in at least two of the three categories, his qualifying tournament was awarded a qualifying spot in that weight class. Each qualifying tournament, with automatic qualifying status, was awarded a minimum of one wrestler per weight class, which will go to the tournament champion, even if they did not have any wrestlers reach at least two of the three thresholds.
Seven Bison Top-30 in NCAA RPI
Seven North Dakota State wrestlers were ranked among the nation’s top 30 in the final NCAA RPI of the 2012-13 season. Junior Steven Monk led the way with a No. 5 ranking at 165 pounds. Other ranked Bison included Trent Sprenkle (No. 14, 125 pounds), Mac Stoll (No. 15, 184 pounds), Kallen Kleinschmidt (No. 23, 197 pounds), Josh Rodriguez (No. 29, 133 pounds), Kurtis Julson (No. 30, 174 pounds) and Evan Knutson (No. 30, 285 pounds).
Sprenkle Wins No. 100
Senior 125-pounder Trent Sprenkle opened the Feb. 15 dual with South Dakota State by winning his 100th career match and becoming the eighth Bison wrestler in history to join the elite 100-win club. Sprenkle started the dual with a 12-3 major decision of Aaron Pickrel to improve his career record to 100-44.
Junior 165-pounder Steven Monk owns 93 career wins.
Eight Ranked Opponents
On Feb. 3, No. 20 Northern Iowa became the eighth ranked opponent that NDSU has faced this season. The Bison are 3-5 in duals against ranked teams this year, with wins over No. 14 Wyoming, No. 24 Boise State and No. 25 Old Dominion. The Bison dropped duals versus No. 1 Minnesota, No. 7 Missouri, No. 9 Central Michigan, No. 15 Oregon State and No. 20 Northern Iowa.
The North Dakota State wrestling team has been ranked among the nation’s top 25 programs in the USA Today/NWCA/AWN Division I Coaches Poll on three different occasions this season. The Bison were last ranked 25th in the poll released on Feb. 5.
Bison junior Steven Monk went 18-0 in dual meets this season and has registered victories in 21 straight dual meets dating back to Feb. 5, 2012. Monk’s last defeat in a dual was a 3-2 decision by Northern Iowa’s David Bonin at 157 pounds.
NDSU senior 125-pounder Trent Sprenkle and junior 165-pounder Steven Monk combined to go 34-2 in duals this season. Both are defending WWC champions.