Record Six Bison Wrestlers Set for NCAA Championships on March 19-21 in St. Louis

A school Division I record six North Dakota State University wrestlers — 125 Josh Rodriguez, 141 Mitch Bengtson, 149 Clay Ream, 174 Kurtis Julson, 184 Hayden Zillmer and 285 Evan Knutson — will compete at the 2015 NCAA Championships scheduled for Thursday, March 19 through Saturday, March 21, at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo. … Three NDSU wrestlers earned seeds in the three-day tournament — 184 Zillmer is No. 6, 125 Rodriguez is No. 14 and 285 Knutson is No. 16 … North Dakota State placed 21st overall in the 2014 NCAA Wrestling Championship team standings with 20.5 points led by Steven Monk’s third place finish in the 165-pound weight class … Monk’s third place finish was the highest in NDSU and Western Wrestling Conference history.

NCAA Wrestling Championships Schedule
Thursday, March 19
Session I (8 mats/Pigtails & 1st Round), 11 a.m.
NCAA Fan Festival, 2-6 p.m. (Union Station)
Session II (8 mats/2nd Round/Wrestlebacks), 6 p.m.

Friday, March 20
Session III (8 mats/Quarterfinals/Wrestlebacks), 10 a.m.
NCAA Fan Festival, 1-6 p.m. (Union Station)
Session IV (6 mats/Semifinals/Wrestlebacks), 7 p.m.

Saturday, March 21
Session V (3 mats/Wrestleback Semis/3rd-5th-7th Medal Rounds), 10 a.m.
NCAA Fan Festival, Noon-6 p.m. (Union Station)
Parade of All-Americans, 6:35-6:50 p.m.
Session VI (1 mat/Finals/Awards Ceremony), 7 p.m.

ESPN will provide comprehensive coverage of the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships from the Scottrade Center in St. Louis from March 19-21 … For the second consecutive year, all six sessions will be televised and every match carried on ESPN3 throughout the entire three-day competition … ESPN will televise the semifinals (March 20) and finals (March 21) in prime time … ESPNU will televise the first, second (March 19) and quarterfinals (March 20), in addition to the medal round (March 21) … ESPN3 will carry individual mat feeds throughout the entire tournament including the return of Off the Mat during the Championships finals … Additionally, for computer users, ESPN3 will once again offer multi-mat, simultaneous viewing which allows fans to watch up to four different mats at one time … Both the television and ESPN3 content will be available on WatchESPN.

North Dakota State First Round Matchups
125 Josh Rodriguez (18-6) The 14th-seeded Rodriguez, a sophomore from Guadalupe, Calif. (Righetti H.S.), will face either Air Force Academy’s Josh Martinez (21-5) or Appalachian State’s Dominic Parisi (27-8) in his first match … Rodriguez posted a 6-4 sudden victory-1 overtime win over Martinez during the regular season … Rodriguez was named the NCAA West Regional/Western Wrestling Conference Most Outstanding Wrestler after navigating through a bracket that includes five NCAA Championships participants … Rodriguez has compiled a 5-6 record against the NCAA Championships field.

141 Mitch Bengtson (23-10) Bengtson, a redshirt freshman from St. Cloud, Minn. (Apollo H.S.), opens with second-seeded Mitchell Port (32-1) of Edinboro (Pa.) University …. Bengtson has compiled a 1-7 record against the field.

149 Clay Ream (23-11), a redshirt freshman from Wentzville, Minn. (Holt H.S.) will wrestle North Carolina’s Christian Barber (12-9) in his first match … That winner advances to take on second-seeded Drake Houdashelt of top-ranked Missouri … Ream has compiled a 1-5 record against the field.

174 Kurtis Julson (18-9), Julson, a senior from Inver Grove Heights, Minn. (Simley H.S.), makes his second national tournament appearance and opens against 10th-seeded Mark Martin (18-10) of the Ohio State University in the first round … Martin defeated Julson 5-2 at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational in mid-December … Competing at 184 pounds, Julson won two of four matches at the 2014 NCAA Championships … Julson has compiled a 3-6 record against the field.

184 Hayden Zillmer (31-4), a junior from Crosby, Minn. (Crosby-Ironton H.S.), earned the sixth-seed and will face Ohio State’s Kenny Courts (22-9) in the opening round … Courts defeated Julson 8-4 at last year’s national tournament … Zillmer wrestled in the 174-pound weight division at the 2014 NCAA Championships and went 0-2 … Zilmer has compiled a 13-4 record against the field.

285 Evan Knutson (28-4), a native of Wausau, Wis. (West H.S.), makes his third straight trip to the NCAA Championships and has a 1-4 tournament record … He will face Jacob Kettler (27-11) of George Mason in the opening round … The winner will face top-seeded Nick Giazdowski of North Carolina State in the second round … Knutson has compiled an 8-7 record against the field.

Five NDSU Wrestlers Take Individual Titles as Bison Win Second Straight NCAA West Region Crown
North Dakota State won its second straight NCAA West Regional/Western Wrestling Conference Championship on March 7 led by the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler 125 Josh Rodriguez and Coach of the Year Roger Kish … North Dakota State had five individual champions led by 125 Rodriguez, 141 Mitch Bengtson, 149 Clay Ream, 174 Kurtis Julson and 184 Hayden Zillmer … Zillmer won his second straight title, taking the 174 division in 2014 … Rodriguez, Bengtson, Ream and Julson all received AQs to the NCAA Championships … 285 Evan Knutson was runner-up in his weight class and received an at-large berth to the national tournament.

Four NDSU Wrestlers at 20-Wins, Bengtson Leader in Pins
Four North Dakota State wrestlers have reached 20 wins this season, while one has reached the 30-win plateau … 184-pound senior Hayden Zillmer (Crosby, Minn.) leads the way at 31-4 … Zillmer has won nine in a row and 12 of his last 124… 285 Evan Knutson (24-8), 141 Mitch Bengtson (23-10) and 149 Clay Ream (23-11) follow … Bengtson leads team with nine pins, Zillmer has eight and Ream with seven.

Bison in the FINAL Rankings
North Dakota State was ranked 18th in the Dual rankings, 18th in the WIN Wrestling Magazine’s Dual rankings and 20th in the USA Today/NWCA Top 25 … The Bison are also tied for 29th with Penn in WIN’s Tournament Power Index (TPI) …

… In the (March 10) individual weight class rankings, 184 Hayden Zillmer (31-4) is No. 9, 285 Evan Knutson (24-8) is No. 11 and 125 Josh Rodriguez (18-6) is No. 16 …

… In The Open (March 11) rankings, 184 Zillmer is No. 8, 125 Rodriguez is No. 14 and 285 Knutson is No. 19 …

… In the Amateur Wrestling News (March 16) rankings, 184 Zillmer is No. 10, Rodriguez is No. 12, 174 Kurtis Julson (18-9) and 285 Knutson are No. 17 …

… In the WIN Wrestling Magazine (March 9) rankings, 184 Zillmer is No. 8, 125 Rodriguez is No. 14, 285 Knutson is No. 16, and 141 Mitch Bengtson (23-10) is No. 17 …

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… In Asics/Flowrestling Rankings (Feb. 24) rankings, 184 Zillmer is No. 6, and 285 Knutson and 125 Rodriguez are both No. 12.

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