Wrestling

Bison Illustrated In Tulsa: Absorbing Day One Of The Big 12 Wrestling Championships

On a momentous day in Tulsa, we unpack everything you need to know heading into championship Sunday at the Big 12 Wrestling Championships.

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Photo By Nolan P. Schmidt

160.

 

That is how many wrestling matches took place inside the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, today for the first day of the Big 12 Wrestling Championships. With that being said, forgive me if my brain is a little foggy and incoherent. Working for 12 hours today mixed with a lack of sleep thanks to the long drive I took to get here yesterday is starting to wear on me.

However, I shall fight through, for you, reader.

By day’s end, North Dakota State had put two of its wrestlers in a Big 12 championship match. For the fan who even casually follows Bison wrestling, you will not be surprised to hear that Brent Fleetwood and Andrew Fogarty are those two wrestlers.

Not to take anything away nor underscore how well the Bison performed all around today. Lorenzo De La Riva was moments away from making his way into the 174-pound semifinals. Jaden Van Maanen had number one seed Kaden Gfeller of Oklahoma State on the ropes for the entire match, he just fell short. De La Riva and Luke Weber are vying for third or fifth place tomorrow as well. North Dakota State was impressive today.

Yet, we must talk about how good Fleetwood and Fogarty have been this season and today specifically. Fogarty, a redshirt junior from Jordan, Minnesota, came out this morning with something to prove. Last year’s Big 12 runner-up pinned South Dakota State’s Logan Peterson in the first period of his first match. Then, it was on to West Virginia’s Nick Kiussis, who beat Fogarty at the South Beach Duals earlier this season. Fogarty pinned him. Redemption in the highest for the 165-pound Fogarty.

“The second match, the guy beat me earlier and right before the match, Kish came up to me and said ‘you’re going to pin this guy’ and I just laughed,” Fogarty said on his win over Kiussis. “But you know the situation came up and that really fired me up. It was just a funny situation because he called it.”

His redemption tour did not stop there either, his semifinal match came against number one-seeded Brandon Ashworth of Wyoming. Ashworth defeated Fogarty earlier in the regular season by decision. While Fogarty did not pin Ashworth like he did his previous two adversaries, he was able to grind out a 3-2 decision victory. In the third period, Fogarty had to stave off some near fall attempts from Ashworth to secure the win. He remained on bottom for the entire third period.

“Honestly, when it comes down to it, it’s about being tough and knowing that I wasn’t going to let this guy turn me. That’s the mentality you got to have,” Fogarty said about that third period. “Even if he’s cranking on you, you have to fight back.”

It will be a return trip to the Big 12 title match for Fogarty, who fell to Oklahoma State’s Chandler Rogers last year. This time around, he will see a somewhat familiar opponent in Utah Valley’s Demetrius Romero. Romero defeated Fogarty last regular season by sudden victory. Despite the opponent, Fogarty is keeping the same mindset as last year.

“Nothing different. Last year in the finals, I got caught on my back within the first minute and I never came back, that was the deciding factor in that. I just got to keep my momentum going,” he said. “It’s going to be weigh-in at 11 and then wrestling at 7. So, I have plenty of time to get as much fuel as I want, get as big as I want, but it’s just going to come down to me wrestling.”

Brent Fleetwood began his day similarily to Fogarty. He pinned South Dakota State’s Gregory Coapstick in the first period. Next up was Oklahoma’s Christian Moody, who took Fleetwood to a sudden victory period in Norman a few weeks back. The duo again battled to a sudden victory period, one in which Fleetwood won, again.

For a spot in the semifinals, Fleetwood was matched up with Northern Iowa’s Jay Schwarm. While the match was competitive through the first two periods, Fleetwood was able to take control for the victory.

Coming into the match with Schwarm, Fleetwood admitted he was nervous, but did a great job of not showing it. He was immediately aggressive and was able to take command of the match early on. “The game plan was just to get the positions that I’m good at,” Fleetwood said. “The kid was what we call a ‘mat wrestler’ so he’s not fantastic on his feet, but he can scrap and get you in some weird stuff. Other than that, I was nervous, being a senior, I wanted to make the finals.”

Fleetwood advanced his record to 24-3 with the victory over Schwarm and will see the conference’s biggest stage tomorrow night.”It feels really good. I’m excited. I came here with a plan, I came here on a mission, so far, so good. The biggest match is obviously going to be in the finals with Piccininni. I’m more than excited,” he said.

He speaks of number one seed Nick Piccininni of Oklahoma State. A redshirt junior, Piccininni has won the last two Big 12 titles at 125 pounds. While it is by no means an easy task, Fleetwood has faced tough opponents this season in Northwestern’s Sebastian Rivera and Oregon State’s Ronnie Bresser.

“I know he guards in, I know he wrestles a typical Oklahoma style. He’s athletic, he darts in, he’s shifty, he wants to kind of elbow you and get under you,” Fleetwood said of Piccininni. “I know he’s decent on top, he rides tough and tries to get those tilts on you. Other than that, I don’t know him on a personal level.”

You might be wondering why Fleetwood felt the need to say he does not know Piccininni on a personal level. Brent knows I have a certain affinity for wrestling rivalries and wrestlers not liking one another. I’ve spoken to Fleetwood about this at length and regarding his relationship with Sebastian Rivera of Northwestern. So, he said that (while smirking at me) to eliminate any chance of me making this match more than it already is. Smart move, Brent.

To get back on track, both Fleetwood and Fogarty have a good chance of winning their matches, in my opinion. Even if one of them prevails, it will be North Dakota State’s first individual Big 12 champion in school history. For a program that is still relatively new to this league, the Bison have had some pretty phenomenal individual performers. From Clay Ream, to Josh Rodriguez, to Hayden Zillmer, NDSU has had some stellar performers. However, none of them were able to capture a Big 12 title.

Brent Fleetwood and Andrew Fogarty now have that opportunity. Knowing what I know about those two guys, I feel confident in betting on them to win on Sunday in Tulsa.

Now, where is the nearest bar?

Bison Illustrated In Tulsa: Absorbing Day One Of The Big 12 Wrestling Championships
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