Bison Win NCAA West Regional Crown; Monk, Zillmer, Knutson Advance to NCAAs

OREM, Utah – The North Dakota State University wrestling team won the first NCAA West Regional team championship in school history on Saturday, March 8, inside the UCCU Center at Utah Valley University. The Bison claimed three individual titles on the way to the team title, defeating defending champion Wyoming by a score of 74-66.

Wyoming had won the last four NCAA West Regional/Western Wrestling Conference Tournament team titles, including a close three-point margin over the Bison last season.

NDSU BisonSenior Steven Monk (165 pounds), sophomore Hayden Zillmer (174) and junior Evan Knutson (285) each won their respective weight classes to clinch spots in the NCAA Championships to be held March 20-22 in Oklahoma City, Okla.

Monk won both of his matches by fall on Saturday, pinning Jesse Stafford of Air Force in the first period of the semifinal and pinning Wyoming’s Dakota Friesth at the 4:28 mark of the championship match. The West Regional title is the third of Monk’s career.

Zillmer will make his first appearance at the NCAA Championships after registering a pair of decisions to take first on Saturday. The sophomore from Crosby, Minn., won 5-1 over Monte Schmalhaus of Utah Valley in the semifinals and 8-3 over John Nething II of South Dakota State in the finals.

Knutson returns to the NCAA Championships for the second time after a 2-0 day at the West Regional. He pinned SDSU’s J.J. Everard in 2:20 in the semifinals and won by a 4-1 decision over Utah Valley’s Adam Fager in the finals.

Monk was named the West Regional’s Most Outstanding Wrestler, and NDSU head coach Roger Kish earned the Coach of the Year award for the second straight season.

Senior Justin LaValle (133), junior Kurtis Julson (184) and redshirt freshman Tyler Lehmann (197) all dropped decisions in the finals to finish with runner-up honors. Julson later wrestled a true second place match for a spot in the NCAA Championships and lost a 3-1 decision to Devin Hightower of Air Force.

Redshirt freshman Clay Cathey and senior Tyler Diamond placed third at 141 and 149 pounds, respectively.

After all the qualifying events have concluded, the NCAA DI Wrestling Committee will meet in-person to select the remaining 40 at-large qualifiers, which will be announced on March 12. All weight classes will consist of 33 wrestlers. Last year the WWC had three of its wrestlers receive at-large selections.

Final Team Scores
1. North Dakota State – 74.0
2. Wyoming – 66.0
3. Air Force – 50.0
4. Utah Valley – 49.5
5. South Dakota State – 34.5
6. Northern Colorado – 12.5

West Regional/WWC Automatic Qualifiers for the 2014 NCAA Championships (champions listed first)
125: Tyler Cox (Wyoming)
125: Jade Rauser (Utah Valley)
133: Greg Rinker (Air Force)
141: Avery Garner (Utah Valley)
149: Alex Kocer (South Dakota State)
157: Cody Pack (South Dakota State)
157: Josh Kreimier (Air Force)
165: Steven Monk (North Dakota State)
165: Dakota Friesth (Wyoming)
165: Curtis Abner Cook (Utah Valley)
174: Hayden Zillmer (North Dakota State)
184: Benjamin Stroh (Wyoming)
184: Devin Hightower (Air Force)
197: Shane Woods (Wyoming)
285: Evan Knutson (North Dakota State)

Tournament Awards
Outstanding Wrestler: Steven Monk (North Dakota State)
Most Pins: Steven Monk (North Dakota State) {Fastest Time}
Coach of the Year: Roger Kish (North Dakota State)
Regular Season Team Champion: Wyoming
Tournament Champion: North Dakota State

NCAA Division I West Regional Championships results