LAS VEGAS, Nev.— North Dakota State University 184-pounder Hayden Zillmer upset the nation’s top-ranked wrestler to place third at the 33rd Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational on Saturday, Dec. 6, while teammates Evan Knutson and Mitch Bengtson placed in the top eight.
Zillmer, a junior from Crobsy, Minn., defeated the nation’s top-ranked Gabe Dean of Cornell by the score of 8-3 in the third place match. He opened Saturday with 4-2 loss in overtime (ultimate tie-breaker) to 7th-ranked Blake Stauffer of Arizona State in the semifinals. It was his second OT loss to Stauffer this season.
However, Zillmer rebounded with a 2-1 win over 15th-ranked Brett Pfarr of Minnesota. It was his second win over Pfarr this year. Zillmer entered the weekend ranked 14th nationally. He went 5-1 at the invitational and stands 17-2 overall.
Knutson, a senior from Wausau, Wis., won two of three matches in the 285-pound division Saturday. He recorded a 3-1 overtime win over Virginia’s Collin Campbell and lost 6-3 to Michael Krolls of Minnesota. The 10th-ranked Knutson closed out the invitational with a 4-1 win over 15th-ranked Blaize Cabell of Northern Iowa to place seventh. He went 4-2 at the tournament and improved to 10-4 overall.
At 141-pounds, redshirt freshman Bengtson (St. Cloud, Minn.) opened Saturday with a pin of Army’s Logan Everett at 1:42 in the match. He then dropped a 4-3 decision to Geo Martinez of Boise State and a 5-2 decision to Virginia’s 12th-ranked Joe Spisak to finish eighth. Bengtson went 3-3 during the weekend and is now 13-6.
In other consolation round action, 12th-ranked sophomore Josh Rodriguez suffered a 3-1 overtime loss to Oregon State’s Ronnie Bresser in the 125-pound weight class; 16th-ranked 174-pound senior Kurtis Julson lost 10-7 in overtime to 14th-ranked Davonte Mahomes of Michigan, and redshirt freshman Tommy Petersen dropped a 10-4 decision to West Virginia’s Jake Smith.
North Dakota State returns to the mat on Sunday, Dec. 14, against South Dakota State in the “Battle for the Border Bell.