FARGO, N.D. – North Dakota State University wrestling wrapped up the 2017-18 year with eight post-season program award winners including Most Valuable Wrestler honors for journeyman 157-pounder and four-time NCAA qualifier Clay Ream. The award winners were announced by head wrestling coach Roger Kish.
Redshirt of the Year–Brandon Metz
Freshman of the Year–Paul Bianchi
Match of the Year–McGwire Midkiff (vs. Jack Wagner, UNI)
Match of the Year–Andrew Fogarty (vs. Branson Ashworth, Wyoming)
The 11th Man–Nick Mergen
Bonus Point Machine–Cam Sykora
Most Improved Wrestler–Dan Stibral
Most Valuable Wrestler–Clay Ream
Metz, a freshman from West Fargo, N.D., finished the open tournament season with a 16-4 record including six pins and a major decision. He placed in the top three in four of five tournaments including the Dragon Open/Red Division title. Metz was a double All-American at the recent UWW Junior Nationals, finishing runner-up in Freestyle and third place showing in Greco-Roman.
Bianchi, a redshirt freshman from Two Rivers, Wis., advanced to the NCAA tournament with must-win over Sean Williams of Fresno State at 125-pounds in the Big 12 Championships. Bianchi had a 24-15 record including 10-7 in duals. He recorded seven major decisions, six pins, and one tech fall.
In his first collegiate dual start at 133-pounds, Midkiff outscored Northern Iowa’s Jack Wagner 6-2 in the third period to post an 11-6 win. He was one of two native-Iowans on the NDSU roster to post wins during the dual.
Fogarty, a redshirt sophomore from Jordan, Minn., punched his ticket into the Big 12 Conference 165-pound championship match with an exhausting 3-1 overtime victory over Branson Ashworth of Wyoming in the semifinals. Fogarty recorded a takedown with 18-seconds left in the first sudden victory period.
From the wrestling room to the mat, Mergen, a redshirt sophomore from Albany, Minn., was ready for whatever challenge was presented to him. Competing at 157- and 165-pounds, Mergen compiled an 8-10 record overall including 0-2 in duals with a pair of major decisions and one pin.
The NCAA leader in tech falls for most of the season, 133-pound Sykora, a redshirt sophomore from Wheaton, Minn., finished with bonus points in 17 of his 23 wins. He had 12 tech falls including five straight at the Reno Tournament of Champions in December. He was 23-12 overall including 9-5 in duals.
With a flair for the dramatic, Stibral, a redshirt sophomore from Tabor, S.D., put together a 22-14 record overall including 8-9 in duals. He had five pins and one major decision. Stibral had last-second victories to secure wins over nationally-ranked Central Michigan and Cornell.
A three-time NCAA Elite 90 Award winner, Ream completed his fourth NCAA tournament appearance with a 1-2 record. He was 4-8 overall in NCAA competition. Ream compiled a 24-6 record in 2017-18 including his second straight runner-up finish at the Big 12 Championships. He finished with 95 wins to rank No. 20 on the school’s all-time charts. Ream is a two-time Big 12 Conference Wrestler Scholar-Athlete of the Year and three-time Academic All-Big 12 Wrestling first team selection.
North Dakota State finished the season with a 7-10 record overall including 1-7 in the Big 12 Conference including top 20 wins over then No. 18-ranked Central Michigan and No. 12 Cornell. The Bison finished fifth at the Big 12 Championships.
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