The North Dakota State wrestling team travels to Tulsa, Okla., this weekend for the Big 12 Championships on Saturday, March 6, and Sunday, March 7, at the BOK Center.
Six North Dakota State wrestlers are seeded in the top eight in their weight classes for this week’s championship. NDSU sophomore 157 Jared Franek is No. 3, while senior 165 Luke Weber slots in at No. 4. The Bison have three No. 7 seeds in sophomore 141 Dylan Droegemueller, freshman 197 Owen Pentz and junior 285 Brandon Metz, while junior 149 Jaden Van Maanen has a No. 8 seed.
The Bison Lineup
125—McGwire Midkiff (1-6), Jr., Carter Lake, Iowa
133—#25 Kellyn March (5-6), Fr., Canton, S.D.
141—#32 Dylan Droegemueller (4-7), So., Champlin, Minn.
149—Jaden Van Maanen (6-6), Jr., La Crosse, Wis.
157—#11 Jared Franek (9-2), So., Harwood, N.D.
165—Luke Weber (10-2), Sr., Forsyth, Mont.
174—Austin Brenner (6-2), So., St. Cloud, Minn.
184—Michael Nelson (5-4), RFr., Dover, Minn.
197—#30 Owen Pentz (5-2), Fr., Morgan, Utah
285—#30 Brandon Metz (7-4), Jr., West Fargo, N.D.
#Trackwrestling individual rankings
Saturday, March 6
Session I — Prelims and Quarterfinals, 11 a.m. [ESPN+]
Session II — Semifinals and Consolation, 5 p.m. [ESPN+]
Sunday, March 7
Session III — Consolation, 3rd and 5th Place, 10 a.m. [ESPN+]
Session IV — Championships, 5 p.m. [ESPN2]
All-session and single-session tickets are on sale at BOKcenter.com. Ticket prices start at $11 for general admission. 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.
Four Bison in Second NCAA Coaches Ranking
NDSU has four wrestlers in the second coaches ranking for the NCAA Division I championship released Thursday, Feb. 25. 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 31st, sophomore 157 Jared Franek is 11th, senior 165 Luke Weber is 29th, and junior heavyweight Brandon Metz is 21st. Among other rankings, Franek is 11th in Trackwrestling (top 33), 13th in InterMat (top 20) and 12th in FloWrestling (top 25), Metz is 30th in Trackwrestling and 21st in FloWrestling, March ranks 25th in Trackwrestling, Dylan Droegemueller ranks 32nd in Trackwrestling, and freshman 197 Owen Pentz made his debut in the Trackwrestling rankings this week at No. 30.
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 at 141, 174 and 184; and two additional at 157 pounds.
NDSU Big 12 Championship History
This is North Dakota State’s sixth season as an affiliate member of the Big 12 Conference for wrestling. NDSU’s nine placewinners and 90.5 team points at last year’s Big 12 championship were the most by a Bison team since making their conference debut in 2016. The Bison crowned their first Big 12 champion last year when Cam Sykora won the 133-pound title with a 5-4 decision over Northern Colorado’s Mosha Schwartz. NDSU had two finalists last year including 165 runner-up Andrew Fogarty. North Dakota State’s highest finish in the team standings was fourth place in 2017 with 82.5 points.
Three Returning NCAA Qualifiers
North Dakota State tied a program record last year with six NCAA Division I national qualifiers, and three of them are back this year aiming to qualify again after COVID-19 canceled the 2020 national championship. Dylan Droegemueller qualified at 141 pounds last year, Jared Franek was the No. 16 seed at 157 pounds, and Brandon Metz was a qualifier at heavyweight.
Bison 24th in InterMat Top 25, Seventh in Mid-Major Top 20
North Dakota State remains ranked 24th in the InterMat Top 25 dual meet rankings this week and is receiving votes in the latest NWCA Coaches Top 25. The Bison are also ranked No. 7 in the NWCA/NDS Mid-Major Top 20.