Bison Open WWC Slate at Air Force, No. 14 Wyoming

The North Dakota State wrestling team will open Western Wrestling Conference action with two road duals this weekend. The Bison will travel to Colorado Springs, Colo., to take on Air Force at 8 p.m. (CT) on Friday, Jan. 25, before heading to Laramie, Wyo., for a showdown with defending WWC champion Wyoming at 3 p.m. (CT) on Sunday, Jan. 27.

Coverage

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Free video and live scoring for the Air Force dual will be provided through TrackWrestling and GoAirForceFalcons.com. Both will also be linked on GoBison.com.

Live scoring will be available through TrackWrestling and GoBison.com for the Wyoming dual on Sunday. Live video of the dual with Wyoming will be available for purchase through Wyoming All Access.

About Air Force

Air Force, ranked 24th in the latest Intermat poll, enters the weekend with an 8-1 dual record and a 0-0 mark in the Western Wrestling Conference. The Falcons have two wrestlers who are listed in Intermat’s individual rankings, with senior Cole VonOhlen (21-2) currently rated fourth at 149 pounds and freshman Josh Martinez (20-6) ranked 11th at 125 pounds.

About Wyoming

Wyoming is No. 14 in the latest USA Today/NWCA/AWN Division I Coaches Poll. The Cowboys are 7-3 in duals this season and are off to a 2-0 start in the conference with wins over Utah Valley and South Dakota State. Wyoming has two wrestlers who are currently ranked — No. 4 Alfonso Hernandez (197 pounds) and No. 13 Andy McCulley (157 pounds).

Intermat Rankings

The North Dakota State wrestling team is currently No. 22 in the Intermat team rankings. The Bison improved their spot for four consecutive weeks in the national tournament-strength poll earlier this season, climbing as high as No. 21 for the week of Dec. 11.

The Bison are once again the highest-rated team from the Western Wrestling Conference, and NDSU is ranked higher than five teams from the Big Ten Conference. The Intermat team rankings are based on projected NCAA Tournament strength.

Receiving Votes

NDSU is receiving votes in the USA Today/NWCA/AWN Coaches Poll for the second straight week. The Bison received 20 votes to rank 29th in this week’s poll. NDSU entered the Top 25 for the first time in the school’s Division I era on Nov. 20 when the Bison came in at No. 24.

Century Mark

Senior 125-pounder Trent Sprenkle has tallied 96 career victories and is attempting to become the eighth wrestler in Bison history to win 100 or more matches.

Dynamic Duo

NDSU senior 125-pounder Trent Sprenkle and junior 165-pounder Steven Monk have combined to go 24-0 in duals this season.

Pair of 6’s

North Dakota State wrestlers Steven Monk and Trent Sprenkle are each ranked No. 6 in the nation in the latest Amateur Wrestling News and Intermat individual rankings.

Monk (25-3, 12-0 duals) owns five wins this season over wrestlers ranked in the top 11 at 165 pounds – No. 7 Nick Sulzer (Virginia), No. 8 Conrad Polz (Illinois), No. 10 Cody Yohn (Minnesota), No. 10 Zach Toal (Missouri) and No. 11 Mark Lewandowski (Buffalo).

Monk is 42-6 in his last 48 matches and owns a record of 87-21 in his Bison career. His .806 career winning percentage is the 10th-best in NDSU history.

Sprenkle (21-2, 12-0 duals) is 4-1 against ranked opponents at 125 pounds this season, including wins over David Thorn of Minnesota and Christian Cullinan of Central Michigan, who were ranked No. 5 and No. 8 in the nation at the time of their meetings.

Sprenkle was ranked as high as No. 4 in December – the highest ranking ever achieved by a Bison wrestler in NDSU’s Division I era. He owns 96 career wins and is aiming to become the eighth wrestler in NDSU history with 100 or more victories.

Bison Take Down Second Ranked Foe

NDSU closed out the Virginia Duals on Jan. 12 with its second victory over a ranked opponent this season, topping No. 25 Old Dominion, 27-15, to go 3-2 for the tourney and claim a seventh-place finish.

Old Dominion forfeited to Trent Sprenkle at 125 pounds before recording wins at 133, 141, 149 and, by forfeit, at 157 pounds. Steven Monk sparked the comeback with a 16-0 technical fall that was followed by a decision from Kurtis Julson (174) and a major decision from Mac Stoll at 184 pounds.

Senior Kallen Kleinschmidt locked up the victory over ODU with a late third-period pin of Jacob Henderson, catching Henderson for the fall with 30 seconds remaining. Evan Knutson closed the dual with a 3-1 decision at 285 pounds.

Monk, Sprenkle Guide Bison to Ninth-Place Team Finish at Midlands

North Dakota State junior Steven Monk and senior Trent Sprenkle each earned top-five finishes at the prestigious Midlands Championships on Dec. 30 to help the Bison to a ninth-place team finish. Monk placed fourth at 165 pounds and Sprenkle took fifth at 125 pounds, while redshirt freshman Hayden Zillmer claimed eighth place at 157 pounds.

The Bison scored 57 team points to earn a ninth-place finish out of 34 Division I schools – an improvement of 15.5 points and seven places over one year ago. NDSU finished in front of seven schools currently ranked in the national coaches’ poll, including No. 13 Pittsburgh, No. 17 Nebraska, No. 18 (tied) Edinboro, No. 18 (tied) Maryland, No. 21 Purdue, No. 22 Penn and No. 23 Wisconsin.

Tough Slate

North Dakota State has faced six ranked teams and three top-10 teams in duals this season. The Bison have already faced Minnesota, Missouri, Central Michigan, Oregon State, Boise State and Old Dominion this season, with those schools ranked Nos. 1, 7, 9, 15, 24 and 25, respectively, at the time of their duals with NDSU. No. 14 Wyoming and No. 21 Northern Iowa remain on the schedule.

Early Season Barometer

North Dakota State wrestlers posted a 5-1 record against opponents from Western Wrestling Conference schools at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational on Nov. 30-Dec. 1. Joe Garner (149) and Kurtis Julson (174) each beat opponents from Wyoming, Steven Monk (165) and Josh Rodriguez (133) each defeated opponents from South Dakota State, and Hayden Zillmer (157) went 1-1 against Northern Colorado and Utah Valley wrestlers, respectively.

Last Year vs. Air Force, Wyoming

North Dakota State 21, Air Force 18
125 – No. 20 Trent Sprenkle (NDSU) fall Greg Rinker (AF), 1:58
133 – Dylan Hyder (AF) dec. Justin Solberg (NDSU), 7-4
141 – Carter McElhaney (AF) dec. Tyler Diamond (NDSU), 9-5
149 – No. 3 Cole VonOhlen (AF) dec. Mark Erickson (NDSU), 7-3
157 – No. 10 Steven Monk (NDSU) fall Josh Kreimier (AF), 2:03
165 – Tyler Johnson (NDSU) dec. Colby Kluesner (AF), 10-7
174 – Clayton Gable (AF) fall Joe Garner (NDSU), 1:04
184 – Mac Stoll (NDSU) dec. Greg Isley (AF), 5-2
197 – Josh Mohr (AF) dec. John Gusewelle (NDSU), 9-3
Hwt – Evan Knutson (NDSU) dec. Jared Erickson (AF), 3-1

No. 11 Wyoming 31, North Dakota State 6
125 – No. 18 Michael Martinez (WYO) dec. No. 19 Trent Sprenkle (NDSU), 5-2
133 – No. 16 Zach Zehner (WYO) dec. Justin Solberg (NDSU), 8-5
141 – Chase Smith (WYO) dec. Tyler Diamond (NDSU), 7-0
149 – McCade Ford (WYO) dec. Mark Erickson (NDSU), 5-2
157 – No. 11 Steven Monk (NDSU) fall Andy McCulley (WYO), 6:04
165 – No. 3 Shane Onufer (WYO) maj. dec. Joe Garner (NDSU), 10-2
174 – Pat Martinez (WYO) dec. Tyler Johnson (NDSU), 7-2
184 – No. 1 Joe LeBlanc (WYO) tech. fall Mac Stoll (NDSU), 18-3 (7:00)
197 – No. 9 Alfonso Hernandez (WYO) maj. dec. John Gusewelle (NDSU), 16-4
Hwt – LJ Helbig (WYO) dec. Evan Knutson (NDSU), 14-8

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