I am a big time wrestling nerd. Part of that stems from a true love for professional wrestling in my youth. Now, that enjoyment I once had for “fake” wrestling has transitioned into an appreciation for amateur wrestling. I have said it time and time again, wrestlers are a different breed of human being. They put their body on the line and push it to its limits, all for a seven minute match.
Within that seven minutes, two opponents battle in a true test of strength, endurance and talent. The work that goes into being a successful wrestler is already awe-inspiring to someone like me. These are real athletes, folks and there is really no other way to put it.
I believe that North Dakota State has something special in its wrestling program. Historically, we know the program has seen tremendous highs under the tenure of longtime coach Bucky Maughan. The success seen in the Division II era has also translated to Division I for the Bison. While NDSU has not captured a team national championship in Division I, the program is quickly rising in a competitive Big 12 Conference.
The pieces are in place for this program to really make some noise in the near future. That being said, I do believe that everyone (especially if you call yourself a Bison fan) should take in a home wrestling dual at some point. The atmosphere is fun and it’s just a great and unique way to spend an afternoon or evening. With the season humming along, there are only a few home duals remaining before tournament time.
Here are just a few reasons why Bison wrestling is worth your time.
If you want to see high-level wrestling, going to a Bison dual will provide that. Of the remaining four home duals left this season, three of those four are Big 12 Conference match-ups. Bouts with West Virginia, Air Force and Northern Colorado are always tough matchups for NDSU and its wrestlers. The Mountaineers are paced by their 125 pounder Killian Cardinale, who at the time of this piece is ranked eighth in the country in that weight class.
Even NDSU’s lone match-up against a non-Big 12 school is interesting. Their February 11 dual welcomes Little Rock to the Sanford Health Athletic Conference. Wrestling out of the Pac 12 Conference, the Trojans offer a program that is still in its relative infancy. 2021-22 will be the school’s third year fielding a wrestling program. On top of that, Little Rock brings back a familiar name for Bison wrestling fans. Paul Bianchi is still currently wrestling for the Trojans at 133 pounds. NDSU fans will remember Bianchi as an NCAA qualifier in 2018 as a member of the Bison. While that makes for a good storyline, it is worth noting that Little Rock is a program on the rise.
Primetime Mat Rats
While we are only a few years removed from Cam Sykora’s epic run to the Big 12 133 pound title, it seems as though the Bison are on the cusp of having multiple conference champs. The first name that comes to mind is Jared Franek. The local 157 pounder is currently ranked ninth in the country at that weight class and everyone inside the Bison wrestling room is excited to see what Franek can do in Tulsa this year. The daunting part is what stands in Franek’s way, mainly Iowa State’s David Carr. Long regarded as the best 157 pounder in the country, Carr beat Franek in last year’s Big 12 title match. Redemption has to be at the forefront of Franek’s mind and he may just get another shot at Carr come March.
Luke Weber is the other name you have to get excited about. Weber hit his stride late last season and it all culminated in a conference championship at 165 pounds in Tulsa. Currently ranked 13th in the nation at that weight class, Weber knows the importance of finishing the season strong. Now a senior, do not be surprised to see Weber running out of the tunnel in Tulsa on championship night. If that were to be the case, it would be the fifth consecutive season a Bison wrestled in the 165 pound championship match with Weber last year and NDSU great Andrew Fogarty the previous three years before that.
The Right Formula
Listen, I am a big Roger Kish fan. I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves and maybe he is cool with that, but I am not. This guy can coach, folks. Not only that, but he consistently puts together a staff that suits the program best even when there is turnover. Along with that, I do not think we can underestimate just how good of a recruiter Roger Kish is. Look at NDSU’s track record. Cam Sykora, Andrew Forgarty, Cordell Eaton, Brandon Metz, Jared Franek, Kellyn March, Luke Weber, etc.
What you have to understand is that a lot of the names mentioned are not from massive metro areas. Synnnnnnnnnnnnnnkora and Fogarty came from rural Minnesota towns and what did they end up doing? Sykora became a Big 12 champ and Fogarty was a threetime Big 12 runner-up. That does not happen by accident. It happens with good development and a commitment to always improving on that mat. That is how Roger Kish operates and that is how he runs his wrestling room. It’s time to start putting some respect on coach’s name because he has consistently brought his best since he took over this program.
Remaining Home Duals
1/29 vs West Virginia (1 p.m.)
1/30 vs Air Force (11 a.m.)
2/11 vs Little Rock (7 p.m.)
2/13 vs Northern Colorado (2 p.m.)
Before you go…learn how wrestling is scored.
Takedown (when one wrestler takes the other to the mat from a neutral position) = 2 points
Escape (when a defensive wrestler escapes an offensive wrestler inbounds) = 2 points
Reversal (when a defensive wrestler on bottom reverses and gains control of the offensive wrestler) = 2 points
Other Ways To Score
Near Fall (near fall criteria is primarily met through having an opponent’s shoulder blades within four inches of the mat) = Maximum of 4 points
Penalty (Flagrant misconduct, unsportsmanlike conduct, etc.) = Point values vary on infraction
Time Advantage (also known as riding time when an offensive wrestler grounds a defensive wrestler to the point that they cannot escape.) = A wrestler who owns the riding time advantage over one minute is awarded 1 point.
Ways To Win
Fall = Shoulders or shoulder blades touch the mat for one second. Technical Fall = A wrestler is given a technical fall victory if they outscore their opponent by 15 or more points.
Major Decision = A wrestler is given a major decision if they outscore their opponent by eight or more points, but below 15 points.
Decision = A wrestler outscores their opponent by eight or less points
Other Ways To Win
Team Scoring Breakdown
Fall = 6 points
Forfeit = 6 points
Default = 6 points
Disqualification = 6 points
Technical Fall = 5 points
Major Decision = 4 points
Decision = 3 points