NDSU Wrestling Set for Big 12 Championships in Tulsa

FARGO, N.D. – The North Dakota State wrestling team travels to Tulsa, Oklahoma, this weekend for the Big 12 Championships, which will be held on Saturday, March 9, and Sunday, March 10, at the BOK Center.

Weekend Schedule
Saturday, March 9
Session 1: Preliminary & Quarterfinal Matches – 10:00 a.m. CT
Session 2: Semifinal & Consolation Quarterfinal Matches – 5:00 p.m. CT

Sunday, March 10
Session 3: Consolation Semifinals and Seventh Place Matches – 12:00 p.m. CT
Session 4: Finals – 7:30 p.m. CT

All-session tickets are available through TicketMaster. General admission seats start as low as $37, reserved seating is $57, and premium reserved and club seating is available for $112 and $122, respectively.

Single-session tickets can be purchased online at TicketMaster.com. General admission tickets for Sessions I-III are $12, while reserved seating is $17. Championship round tickets are $37 for general admission and $42 for reserved seating.

All matches from each of the four sessions will be available on the ESPN app through Big 12 Now on ESPN+. The championship round (session 4) will be televised live on ESPN2. Live statistics for the event will be available through TrackWrestling. Links are available on GoBison.com.

Petersen Leads Three Pre-Seeded Bison
Max Petersen (149), Landen Johnson (157), and Gaven Sax (174) have been pre-seeded headed into the Big 12 Championships. Petersen received a six seed, as the redshirt freshman went 15-7 during the regular season, including a 6-2 mark in Big 12 duals. Johnson received a seven seed after an 11-10 campaign that included a 5-2 record in Big 12 duals. Sax also received a seven seed after a 14-4 regular season that included an 8-3 record in duals and a 3-2 record in Big 12 duals.

NDSU Big 12 Championship History
The Bison have had three conference champions in the first eight years in the Big 12. Last year, Jared Franek claimed the top spot at 157 pounds. Cam Sykora took the 133-pound title in 2020, and Luke Weber won the 165-pound title in 2021. NDSU’s nine placers and 90.5 team points in 2020 were the most by a Bison team. NDSU’s highest finish in the team standings was fourth in 2017 with 82.5 points.

Big 12 Allocated 57 NCAA Qualifying Spots
The Big 12 Conference has been pre-allocated 57 qualifying spots for the NCAA Division I wrestling championship. The top six placers at 125, 133, 149, 157, 165, 174, and 197 pounds will receive qualifying berths into the championships, while the top five at 141, 184, and 285 pounds will receive automatic qualification.

Bison Placing at Big 12 Championships
Heading into this weekend’s championship, the Bison have had a total of 51 placers over the first eight seasons, averaging 6.4 placers per year. Aside from the three champions, NDSU has also had ten second-place finishers and six third-place finishers.
1st – 3 | 2nd – 10 | 3rd – 6 | 4th – 6 | 5th – 6 | 6th – 10 | 7th – 6 | 8th – 4

Two Big 12 Wrestler of the Week Accolades
Gaven Sax (174) was named the Big 12 Co-Wrestler of the Week following the opening week of the season after he took down then-No. 20 Elise Brown Ton of Nebraska in the opening dual. Max Petersen (149) won the award the next week after winning the Bison Open, which included defeating Minnesota’s then No. 17 Drew Roberts by a 10-8 decision in the championship match.

Young Herd
Six of the 10 Bison set to compete at the Big 12 Championships will be freshmen, with five redshirt freshmen and one true freshman. NDSU has one sophomore, Spencer Mooberry (197), and three juniors in the lineup: Ryan Henningson (125), Gaven Sax (174), and Devon Dawson (285), who is a transfer from Pratt CC. Sax is the only Bison in the lineup who has Big 12 Championship experience, going 2-2 for 7th in 2022 at 149 pounds before going 0-2 last season at 174 pounds. Former NCAA qualifier Kellyn March (149), who is sidelined this season, is the only other Bison on the active roster to compete at Big 12s.

Sax Leads Bison Represented in RPI Rankings
Four Bison are ranked in the second release of the RPI rankings, with Gaven Sax (174) leading the way for the Bison, sitting in seventh overall. Brendan Howes (165) is second highest for the Bison, sitting at #28. Gavin Drexler (141) and Max Petersen (149) are also ranked, with the duo both coming in at #33.

Scuffle Wrap Up
Gaven Sax (174) and Max Petersen (149) picked up placing finishes at the Southern Scuffle. Sax finished 6-1 to take third overall and also claimed the Gorrarian Award. Petersen finished 4-3 and claimed 8th overall.

Bison Open Titles
Redshirt freshmen Gavin Drexler (141) and Max Petersen (149) claimed Bison Open titles in mid-November. Drexler claimed his title by defeating No. 24 Vance Vombaur of Minnesota by a 6-4 decision. Petersen scored a 10-8 decision over No. #17 Drew Roberts of Minnesota in his championship match.

Sax Climbing NDSU Charts
Gaven Sax (174) has been on a steady climb up the career rankings in NDSU’s Division I era (Since 2004-05). He is currently tied for 14th in ranked wins (7) and ninth in tech fall victories (8). Sax is also 27th on NDSU’s list in career bonus point victories (21). He currently ranks 10th in NDSU’s single season history for bonus point win percentage over the course of a season (.556), matching a similar pace of former NDSU All-Americans Steven Monk, Hayden Zillmer and Cam Sykora. He enters the Big 12 Championships with ten bonus-point decisions in 14 wins and 18 overall matches.

NCAA D1 Qualifiers
The Bison have had 64 NCAA Div. I qualifiers in 15 years of postseason eligibility, including 21 over the last four seasons. Rich in wrestling history, the Bison sent 26 to NCAA Div. I Championships from 1971 to 1991, bringing the total to 90. The Bison have 12 All-Americans 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, while Jared Franek and Michael Caliendo earned All-American honors last season.

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