FARGO, N.D.–North Dakota State University’s returning NCAA All-American 184-pound Hayden Zillmer and NCAA qualifier Josh Rodriguez have earned high preseason rankings from the Amateur Wrestling News, InterMat and FloWrestling. Zillmer was No. 5 in the FloWrestling rankings, and No. 6 on both the AWN and InterMat charts. Rodriguez was 10th in the AWN rankings, 12th on FloWrestling and 17th by InterMat.
Zillmer, a senior from Crosby, Minn. (Crosby-Ironton H.S.), capped off a stellar season with a sixth-place finish in his weight class at the 2015 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. He had to reel off five straight wins in the wrestlebacks after getting upset in the first round at nationals en route to earning the first All-America finish of his career. Zillmer, who entered the national tournament as the six seed at 184 pounds, finished his 2015 NCAA run with a 5-3 record. Two of his wins came over No. 2 Max Thomusseit and No. 4 Jack Dechow of Old Dominion during the streak and all five were over fellow seeded foes.
Zillmer finished with a 36-7 record and a perfect 13-0 mark in duals in 2014-15. He was a three-time Western Wrestling Conference Wrestler of the Week and won his second straight NCAA West Regional/WWC Championship title despite moving from 174 to 184. Zillmer took third at the prestigious Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational with a win over the then top-ranked wrestler in the nation and eventual national champion Gabe Dean of Cornell. He also placed fourth at the Midlands Championships and finished the year with eight falls, four tech falls and three major decisions.
Rodriguez, a junior from Guadalupe, Calif. (Righetti H.S.), went 2-2 at his first NCAA tournament and finished the season with a 20-8 record. He was named the 2015 NCAA West Regional/WWC Most Outstanding Wrestler after navigating through a bracket that included five NCAA Championships participants.
North Dakota State is scheduled to open the season Sunday, Nov. 1 at the Warren Williamson Daktronics Open in Brookings. NDSU opens the home portion of its schedule at 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6, against Atlantic Coast Conference powerhouse University of Virginia in the Bentson Bunker Fieldhouse. The 45th annual Bison Open follows on Saturday, Nov. 14, in the Fargodome.