Ream Wins Pair as Five NDSU Wrestlers Advance to Friday at NCAA Championships

ST. LOUIS, Mo.— North Dakota State University 149-pound redshirt freshman Clay Ream won a pair of matches in the NCAA Wrestling Championships consolation round to lead a group of five Bison that advanced during the second session Thursday, March 19, before 18,414 fans at the Scottrade Center. No NDSU wrestlers advanced to the quarterfinals in the championship bracket.

North Dakota State is tied for 27th with Maryland, and Princeton in the NCAA Championship team standings with six points.

NDSU Bison“We ended up having a slow start with some of our guys, but they’ve been able to battle back and they’ve been able to fight. It’s good to see our guys start to figure it out and to start winning matches. Once you get on a roll here, it’s real easy to keep the momentum rolling,” said North Dakota State head coach Roger Kish, who was a two-time NCAA runner-up as a collegian at Minnesota.

“It’s a step in the right direction. It’s great to have five guys coming in and wrestling tomorrow (Friday). We have something to prove, these five guys have to come in and prove something. We’re excited for them.”

Ream, who grew up only 40 miles away in Wentzville, Mo., opened the second session with a 5-3 decision over Oklahoma State’s Joshua Kindig in a 149-pound consolation round pigtail match. Kindig was the national runner-up last season.

“That’s a great thing for Clay. He’s another one of those young guys who had a tough first round. I think a little bit of it was his youth, the first time at the tournament and some of the expectations here. Coming back, he just wrestled the best I’ve seen him wrestle in the last two matches,” said Kish.

Ream (26-12) scored a first period takedown and built up 3:01 of riding time to take a 2-1 lead into the third period. His takedown 40-seconds into the third proved to be huge as Kindig scored a late reversal to cut the margin to 4-3. The point for riding time made the final.

Riding the momentum, Ream rolled to a 9-4 lead over one period against Ohio State’s Hunter Stieber before winning by injury default in the second period at 3:39. He stays in the BigTen and will take on No. 4-seed Brad Sorenson (35-5) of Iowa on Friday.

Virginia Tech’s No. 7-seeded Zach Epperly defeated Kurtis Julson 5-3 in the second round. Epperly scored a takedown and led 2-1 after the first period. After Julson tied the match at 2-2 with an escape, the Hokies’ wrestler registered his second takedown to make it 4-2.

Both wrestlers then traded escapes, with Epperly’s coming in the third period. Julson moves into the wrestlebacks and will battle Oklahoma’s Matt Reed (27-12) on Friday morning.

No. 1-ranked and defending 285-pound national championship Nick Gwiazdowski tallied a 15-1 major decision over NDSU’s Evan Knutson. Undefeated Gwiazdowski improved to 32-0. Knutson (23-9) drops to the consolation bracket and wrestles Old Dominion’s Jacob Henderson (24-12) on Friday.

“Kurtis (Julson) and Evan (Knutson) are going to be leaders. They are going to have to come back and wrestle some tough matches. I think they both are sitting in great positions to come back, win some matches and put themselves into position to do what they came here to do,” said Kish.

“At the end of the day, being seniors knowing this is their last go at it is really encouraging to these guys. We’re really excited for them and really hope that they come in and perform well.”

The No. 14-seed 125 Josh Rodriguez bounced back and advanced to Friday with a 9-4 decision over Pitt’s Dom Forys. Rodriguez (19-7) led 2-0 after the first period, widening the margin with a pair of takedowns in the second and third periods. Rodriguez now faces No. 13-seed Ben Willeford of Cleveland State on Friday.

North Dakota State’s No. 6-seed Hayden Zillmer met up with Minnesota’s No. 11-seed Brett Pfarr for the fourth time this season. Zillmer edged Pfarr 7-6 to advance. The Crosby, Minn., native has won all four meetings against Pfarr by a grand total of five points. He’ll take on Oklahoma State’s Nolan Boyd (27-8) on Friday morning. It was Zillmer’s first NCAA tournament win in four matches.

“Hayden (Zillmer) just needed to get a win under his belt and needed to let the nerves settle. That’s something that takes time and experience when you get to the tournament. It’s something you need to adjust to. I think Hayden will settle in here with a nice win this afternoon. He’s going to have a long road in front of him. We’re just going to take it one match at a time and build on it,” said Kish.

True to form, Zillmer and Pfarr traded moves back and forth until the final horn. Tied 3-3 entering the third period, Pfarr gained the escape and Zillmer countered with a takedown with 1:12 left. Pfarr escaped again with 47-seconds left and the persistent Zillmer locked a key takedown at the :25-second mark. Pfarr escaped again with 13-seconds remaining, but Zillmer held on.

Northwestern University 141-pound Jameston Oster defeated NDSU redshirt freshman Mitch Bengtson 9-1 in the wrestlebacks. Bengtson ends the season with a 23-10 record.

Visit The Guillotine College Tournament Time Page for brackets, results, and live video links.

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