Roger Kish and the North Dakota State wrestling program had one of the best heavyweights in the NCAA West Region in 2015. Evan Knutson was a two-time NCAA Championship qualifier and just missed being an All-American his senior season. He left a giant void in the NDSU program. Suddenly, transfer Ben Tynan made the decision to join the Bison from Highland Junior College in Des Moines, Washington. The heavyweight spot was in good hands.
Tynan had just grown into his heavyweight frame his second year at Highline. He finished his sophomore season with All-American honors going 26-4. He transitioned seamlessly into the Bison wrestling program last winter. Tynan exploded onto the scene at NDSU when he won his home-opening match in overtime against Virginia’s Pat Gillen. Tynan finished fifth in the Big 12 last season.
After starting his senior season with a Bison Open title and a pin against Iowa State, Tynan has his eyes on the NCAA Championships this spring.
In His Own Words
How Tynan ended up wrestling for a junior college.
“I actually wasn’t expecting to wrestle in college after high school. That junior college (Highline) was talking to me and I was kind of back and forth whether to do it or not and finally, my mom was there to kick me in the butt and said, ‘Go, keep wrestling,’ so I decided to do it.”
Not always wrestling in the heavyweight division.
“Between my first and second year at the JUCO, I finally started putting on weight and thickening out. Freshman year in high school, I was at 103. I was the smallest guy on the wrestling team, then I had an awkward growth phase all through high school and then I started wrestling at Highline at 197. About half way through the season, I bumped up to heavyweight because I liked it and then it worked out.”
The potential he saw in the NDSU wrestling program.
“I did some research, and there were some other colleges talking to me but I was looking at their past wrestlers and they were All-Americans and some other schools were looking pretty bad so I came here and I saw how much of a beast of a team there was and I wanted to be a part of the program.”
Explaining his eccentric and confident demeanor on the mat.
“I picked that up in the last couple of years. Wrestling at a JUCO, I took pride in just my wrestling and me as a person. Not only was I a small heavyweight when I first started, but I was also the junior college guy and I would be wrestling bigger schools and I was always in their face. I always took pride in being from a small school and believing I could beat you. I ain’t scared of no D-I guys. Yeah, so they see this random JUCO guy they don’t know with bleached hair.”
Let’s talk about the hair
“Started in high school, just stuck with it, kind of liked it. I started with a little high school angst, getting back at my parents, I wanted to rebel a little bit, so I just bleached my hair, and then I was that punky kid, but I liked it.”
What’s to like about this year’s team?
“We have a mean wrestling team. That’s what it is. Young, mean and lean. We have an up-and-coming team. There are a couple of us seniors. I think it’s cool having these younger guys that are a little more fresh, filling in these big spots and they’re excited to do it.”