Bison Back in Brookings Saturday to Wrestle Air Force, Utah Valley

North Dakota State is scheduled to wrestle its final two duals of the regular season this Saturday, Feb. 13, in Brookings, S.D., against a pair of Big 12 Conference opponents. NDSU (5-3, 3-2 Big 12) will face Air Force (2-4, 2-4) at 11 a.m. and Utah Valley (2-2, 0-1) at 1 p.m. at Frost Arena.

Series History
North Dakota State is 11-3 all-time against Utah Valley and the Bison have won two straight in the series including a 20-15 victory last February in Orem, Utah. The Bison lead 17-2 all-time against Air Force and have won nine straight including a 31-6 victory in Fargo last February.

North Dakota State’s Probable Lineup
125—McGwire Midkiff (1-5), Jr., Carter Lake, Iowa or Ryan Henningson (0-5), Fr., Winona, Minn.
133—#26 Kellyn March (3-5), Fr., Canton, S.D. or Ryan Ripplinger (0-1), Fr., Winona, Minn.
141—#32 Dylan Droegemueller (2-7), So., Champlin, Minn. or Zach Watts (1-2), Fr., Fresno, Calif.
149—Jaden Van Maanen (5-4), Jr., La Crosse, Wis.
157—#15 Jared Franek (6-2), So., Harwood, N.D. or Canon Swanson (0-0), Fr., New London, Minn.
165—Luke Weber (6-2), Sr., Forsyth, Mont. or Austin Brenner (4-1), So., St. Cloud, Minn.
174—Riley Habisch (3-2), RFr., Buffalo, Minn.
184—Michael Nelson (2-4), RFr., Dover, Minn. or TJ Pottinger (1-5), So., Hastings, Minn.
197—Owen Pentz (2-2), Fr., Morgan, Utah or Cole Witzig (1-2), Sr., Troy, Ill.
285—#17 Brandon Metz (5-3), Jr., West Fargo, N.D.
#Trackwrestling individual rankings

Four Bison in First NCAA Coaches Ranking
North Dakota State has four wrestlers in the first coaches ranking for the NCAA Division I Championship released Thursday, Feb. 11. Rankings are determined by a vote of 14 coaches in each weight class with two head coaches from each conference. NDSU freshman 133 Kellyn March is ranked 27th, sophomore 157 Jared Franek is 12th, senior 165 Luke Weber is 31st, and junior heavyweight Brandon Metz is 18th. Among other rankings, Franek is 15th in Trackwrestling (top 33), 13th in InterMat (top 20) and 12th in FloWrestling (top 25), Metz is 17th in Trackwrestling and 18th in FloWrestling, March ranks 26th in Trackwrestling and Dylan Droegemueller ranks 32nd in Trackwrestling.

Big 12 Allocated 45 NCAA Qualifying Spots
The Big 12 Conference has been pre-allocated 45 qualifying spots for the NCAA Division I wrestling championship to be held March 18-20 in St. Louis. Due to a decrease in overall matches, and in particular non-conference matches, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Division I wrestling committee’s pre-allocations were based on five-year historical averages. After the 10 automatic qualifying champions from each weight class, the Big 12 will have four additional qualifiers at 125, 133, 149, 165, 197, and 285; three additional qualifiers at 141, 174, and 184; and two additional qualifiers at 157 pounds.

NDSU Slips to 24th in InterMat Top 25
North Dakota State dropped two spots to 24th in the InterMat Top 25 dual meet rankings this week. The Bison also received three votes in the latest NWCA Coaches Top 25. This week’s opponents, Air Force and Utah Valley are both tied for 24th in the Trackwrestling tournament rankings.

Bison Keep Border Bell, Fall to Iowa State
No. 17-ranked heavyweight Brandon Metz recorded a takedown with 4 seconds remaining to win 5-3, lifting North Dakota State to an 18-16 win over South Dakota State in the annual Battle for the Border Bell on Sunday, Feb. 7, in Fargo. It was the third straight win for NDSU in the Border Bell series. NDSU won six of 10 matches against South Dakota State including a victory at 157 pounds by No. 14-ranked Jared Franek over 16th-ranked Cade DeVos by a 3-2 decision. Franek logged a takedown with 24 seconds to go in the match to win his fifth consecutive bout. Luke Weber was the lone Bison to win both matches on the day, winning 6-1 against SDSU and recording a pin at 6:24 against Iowa State. The Cyclones won nine of 10 matches, including three by major decision and a technical fall.

Bison Take Two in California
North Dakota State took a pair of matches on the West Coast on Jan. 30 defeating Fresno State 29-15 and California Baptist 30-6 in Riverside, Calif. Freshman Fresno State transfer Owen Pentz started his career with a bang, making quick work in his first match at 197 pounds with a first-period pin as part of a 2-0 debut with the Bison. NDSU won six of 10 bouts, including another pin by Brandon Metz to close out the match with the Bulldogs. The Bison won eight of 10 bouts against CBU, including two tech falls and two major decisions to rout the Lancers. After falling behind 3-0 to start the match, the Bison charged forward with six straight victories to help seal the victory. Six Bison went 2-0 on the day, with Jaden Van Maanen, Jared Franek, Luke Weber, Riley Habisch, and Metz joining Pentz with undefeated weekends.

NDSU Splits Pair of Big 12 Duals in Brookings
North Dakota State split a pair of duals against Big 12 Conference opponents Jan. 10 in Brookings, S.D., with a 27-11 loss to 23rd-ranked Northern Iowa before defeating South Dakota State 21-13. Sophomore 157 Jared Franek won both matches, including a 4-2 overtime victory over 20th-ranked Cade DeVos of SDSU to help lead the Bison to victory. With the Bison leading 18-13 after nine bouts, heavyweight Brandon Metz put the match on ice with a 5-4 overtime win in the second tiebreaker round. NDSU 141 Dylan Droegemueller defeated Drew Bennett of UNI by 12-2 major decision in one of three victories against UNI on the day. The Panthers won two bouts by fall en route to victory.

Big 12 Championship Tickets on Sale
All-session tickets are on sale at for the 2021 Big 12 Wrestling Championship scheduled for March 6-7 at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla. General admission reserved tickets start as low as $49, while reserved seating is $69 and premium seats are available for $89 and $109. All fans will be in pod seating, which increases distancing and minimizes fan crossover when entering and exiting their seats. Fans must purchase all tickets in a selected pod group, available in select section groupings of 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8 seats.

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