KANSAS CITY, Mo. — North Dakota State University advanced three wrestlers – 125 Josh Rodriguez, 141 Mitch Bengtson and 184 Hayden Zillmer — into the semifinal round of the Big 12 Conference Championships on Saturday, March 5, at the Sprint Center.
The semifinals and consolation round are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. Saturday.
North Dakota State is fifth in the team standings with 26 points. Oklahoma State is first with 72 points, Oklahoma is second at 40, South Dakota State is third with 37.5 and Iowa State is fourth at 31.
Rodriguez, a redshirt junior from Guadalupe, Calif., opened with a 9-2 decision over Wyoming’s Drew Templeman. Templeman had defeated Rodriguez 3-1 in sudden victory-1 overtime at the Reno Tournament of Champions.
Rodriguez came out the aggressor and recorded a takedown for a 2-0 lead with 20-seconds left in the first period. Templeman cut the deficit to 2-1 with an escape early in the second, but Rodriguez extended his lead to 4-1 with another takedown with 7-seconds remaining.
Rodriguez started the third period with an escape, then used a pair of takedowns to pull away for the win. He improved to 31-7 overall headed into the semifinal against top-seeded Ryan Millhof of Oklahoma.
Bengtson, a redshirt sophomore from St. Cloud, Minn., built a 6-0 lead on the strength of a takedown and four-point nearfall in the first period against Utah Valley’s Jarod Maynes. Bengtson (16-9) held the upper hand throughout in a 10-2 major decision. He faces top-seeded Dean Heil of Oklahoma State in the semis
Top-seeded Zillmer, a native of Crosby, Minn., wasted little time in deciding the outcome against Wyoming’s Benjamin Stroh. Zillmer recorded his 10th pin of the season against Stroh at 2:06 in the first period. Zillmer improved to 29-3 overall heading into his semifinal match against Iowa State’s Dane Pestano.