NDSU Wrestling Season Starts Friday, Bison Travel to No. 8 Nebraska for Opener

FARGO, N.D. – The North Dakota State wrestling program will open up the 2022-23 season on Friday, as the Bison make the trip to Lincoln, Nebraska to take on the No. 8 Huskers on opening night of the NCAA Wrestling season. NDSU will square off against Nebraska at 6 p.m. inside the Devaney Center.

Dual Coverage
Friday’s dual will be streamed live on the Big Ten Network Plus subscription service. The dual will also have live results through TrackWrestling. Links for coverage will be available on GoBison.com.

Tickets for the dual at Nebraska are available at Huskers.com. General admission seats are available, with adult tickets at $7. Youth tickets and Seniors are $5, while Children 6 and under are $1.

The Series
This is the 14th meeting between NDSU and Nebraska, dating back to an 18-18 tie in Minneapolis on December 16, 1967. The Bison are 3-9-1, with Nebraska winning the last six meetings overall. The teams have met just twice during NDSU’s Division 1 era, a 33-9 Nebraska win in Lincoln in January of 2010, and a 31-6 Nebraska win in Fargo in December of 2011.

Seven Bison in Major Rankings
NDSU has seven wrestlers appearing in the rankings. Senior Jared Franek (157) sits 6th in Flo and 9th by InterMat to lead the way. Dylan Droegemueller (141) also sits 9th by IM and 13th by Flo. Redshirt freshman Michael Caliendo (165) is ranked in both, joining NCAA qualifiers Owen Pentz (197) and Brandon Metz (285), along with DJ Parker (184). Gaven Sax (149) also appears in Flo as an honorable mention.

Approaching 100
NDSU Head Coach Roger Kish is quickly approaching 100 career victories in dual matches at the helm of the Bison. In his 12th season, Kish currently holds a 97-67 record.

Who’s Back?
The Bison return seven main starters from the 2022 squad and 10 dual starters overall, headlined by seniors Jared Franek (157) and Dylan Drogemueller (141), who both made runs at the NCAA Championships last season. Fellow NCAA qualifiers Owen Pentz (197) and Brandon Metz (285) are also back on the roster, as well as NCAA alternate Kellyn March (133) and a pair of breakout freshmen from last season, DJ Parker (184) and Gaven Sax (149). Ryan Henningson (125), Riley Habisch (174), and Michael Nelson (184) also made spot starts for NDSU last season in duals and make their returns.

Freshmen Set to Feature
The Bison have a core group of redshirt freshmen from a highly ranked recruiting class set to feature for the Bison in 2022-23. Michael Caliendo (165), who picked up a pair of ranked wins on his way to a Daktronics Open championship as an unattached wrestler last season headlines the group, along with Carlos Negrete Jr. (125) and Juan Mora (285), who both had strong redshirt campaigns.

A Clash Worth Waiting For
NDSU’s Jared Franek and Nebraska’s Payton Robb are set to lock arms for the first time on the college mat in a top-10 showdown at 157. Robb comes off of an All-American fourth-place performance at the 2022 NCAA Championships in Detroit, while Franek lost in the blood round for the second-straight season.

Pentz Looking for Another Pin Against Nebraska
Junior Owen Pentz made a splash on the opening day of the 2021 NCAA National Championships by pinning #2 Eric Schultz in the second period. That momentum carried on to 13 pins last season, including 12 against D1 opposition, the most in the 197-pound weight class. Pentz has 17 career pins in two seasons at NDSU.

NCAA D1 Qualifiers
The Bison have had 58 NCAA Div. I qualifiers in 14 years of postseason eligibility since moving to Div. I in the 2004-05 season, including 15 qualifiers over the last three seasons. Rich in wrestling history, the Bison sent 26 wrestlers to the NCAA Div. I Championships from 1971 to 1991, bringing the total to 84 Div. I qualifiers in program history. The Bison have had 10 placing finishers at the Div. I Championships, including a best finish of 3rd by Steven Monk at 165 in 2014. In 2015, Kurtis Julson and Hayden Zillmer both placed in the top 8.

The Bison at Home
NDSU holds a 281-120-8 (.697) record at home over the course of the program’s 65-year history. The Bison have not had back-to-back losses in duals at home since January 2019, when the Bison fell to No. 21 Iowa State and No. 18 Pitt. During the stretch since the consecutive losses, the Bison are 16-5 (.762) with four of the five losses coming against ranked opposition.

Head Coach Roger Kish
Roger Kish is in his 12th season as head coach of North Dakota State wrestling after taking over the program in 2011-12. Prior to taking over the reins, he spent two years as an assistant wrestling coach under the legendary Bucky Maughan.

Under his tenure, the Bison have had seven All-Americans, including a third by Steven Monk at 165 in 2014 and a fifth by Trent Sprenkle at 125 in 2013. Monk (134) and Sprenkle (109) are two of the top three win leaders in a storied Bison wrestling history. Since the move to the Big 12, Kish has also guided Cam Sykora (133 in 2020) and Luke Weber (165 in 2021) to Big 12 Individual Championships.

Kish was a two-time All-American and two-time NCAA runner-up for Minnesota at 184 pounds with a career record of 117-27 for the Gophers. He then spent two seasons on staff at Minnesota as a graduate assistant.

Up Next
Th Bison will open up the home slate with the annual Bison Open on Saturday, November 12. The event will begin at 9 a.m. inside the Scheels Center. North Dakota State will jump back in to dual action on Friday, November 18 against Binghamton, also at the Scheels Center.

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