Zillmer Upsets No. 1 to Place Third at Cliff Keen Invite, Knutson & Bengtson Finish in Top Eight

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.

NDSU BisonHowever, 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.

Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational results

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