Photo By Nolan P. Schmidt
North Dakota State took to the mat again Friday night in what was a highly anticipated match against Utah Valley. The Bison had not beaten the Wolverines since 2015 when both teams were still members of the Western Wrestling Conference. The visiting team was also coming off a dual against fellow Big 12 opponent South Dakota State last night. From here, the Wolverines head to Ames for a dual with Iowa State on Sunday. To call it a gauntlet, especially coming from Orem, would be putting it lightly.
That being said, it was clear early on that NDSU wanted to control the tone and beat this team. For many, like junior Cam Sykora, he had not seen a team win against Utah Valley in his career. That fact was evident and the Bison came out with a sense of urgency early on.
It paid off, as the Bison dominated the Wolverines 47-3 in a match that saw NDSU win nine of the 10 weights.
“It was a great effort all in all by our squad,” said coach Roger Kish. “The energy was high.”
Number 1: Welcome back, Brent.
Redshirt senior Brent Fleetwood sat out NDSU’s last dual against Northern Colorado. The reasoning is not quite known, but never the less, the ninth-ranked 125-pounder in the country came back with a bang this evening. Facing off with Utah Valley’s Josh Jensen, Fleetwood began the dual aggressive, further setting the tone for the matches to come.
The Delaware product commanded his opponent, scoring several takedowns in succession along with some valuable near fall scenarios. Fleetwood earned a tech fall victory with a 19-1 rout of Jensen. For a wrestler who can make some serious noise come March, it was a welcome sight to see Fleetwood come out hard after the week “off”. That’s the kind of leadership and skill you need from your upperclassmen. Brent Fleetwood has provided that all season for the Bison.
Number 2: I wish we could’ve seen Utah Valley at full strength.
A 47-3 win looks dominating as does NDSU’s 30-7 win over Northern Colorado last Sunday. However, Roger Kish hit on an important point after the match today: Utah Valley was not at full strength. On a usual day, the Bison would have seen four ranked opponents in their final five matches from the Wolverines. Instead, Utah Valley trotted out their understudies. Obviously, I don’t know what the injury report for Utah Valley looked like heading into this match, but it seemed to be a bit of gamesmanship on the part of the Wolverines.
At this juncture in the season, with postseason fast approaching, Kish wants his guys to compete against the best. However, if they do not get that like they did this evening, they may not feel as prepared as March approaches.
That being said, it’s hard to deny NDSU’s fervor for a win tonight. You cannot discredit their poise and effort against the Wolverines. The result was dominance, but you can’t help but wonder what this match could have been. With South Dakota State on the docket two weeks from today, you wish the Bison would have seen the Wolverines at full strength. Never the less, winning nine weights has to provide a ton of energy in the wrestling room, regardless of opponent. The Bison will be ready for the Jacks.
You can’t argue with a win.
Number 3: Brandon Metz…That’s the take…
The redshirt freshman is a local favorite, being from West Fargo. Much of the coaching staff at NDSU believes Metz has the potential to be an All-American in the heavyweight division. He showed once again that he is wholly capable of those distinctions as time wears on. Metz defeated the 11th ranked heavyweight in the nation in Utah Valley’s Tate Orndoff. The West Fargo native earned the fall in the first period, tallying his sixth pin of the season. For Metz, who had struggled against ranked opponents all season (0-7 coming into tonight), the win had to be a big boost.
Not only that, Metz pulled out his patented move on his opponent. Getting the underhook position on his opponent’s armpits seems to be Metz’s go-to move. I’m told it’s one that dates back to his days as a Packer as well. We’ve seen Metz pull that move out on a consistent basis and it seems to always be effective. To fans watching, it’s an almost foregone conclusion that Metz will pick up a pin or four near fall points if he gains that advantage.
“That’s where I’ve been most comfortable most of my life,” said Metz when asked about getting Orndoff in that position. “I shot in and I kind of reacted from what he gave me.”
So if you see Metz gain that position on an opponent, get your cameras ready, it’s showtime…