FARGO, N.D.–North Dakota State University won its second NCAA West Regional/Western Wrestling Conference championship with 67.5 team points to edge out the University of Wyoming which finished second with 63 points and third place South Dakota State (56.5) on Saturday, March 7, at the Bentson Bunker Fieldhouse.

Five NDSU wrestlers claimed individual championships to automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships scheduled for March 19-21 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. Bison head coach Roger Kish was named Coach of the Year.

North Dakota State 125-pounder Josh Rodriguez was named the NCAA West Regional/WWC Most Outstanding Wrestler coming through the tournament’s toughest bracket with a 3-1 decision over Wyoming’s Tyler Cox in the championship match. The 125-pound weight class advanced five of the six competitors to the NCAA Championships.

Rodriguez, a sophomore from Guadalupe, Calif., opened with an 8-1 decision over Utah Valley’s Chasen Tolbert in his first match. Rodriguez, who had lost to Tolbert during the dual season, improved to 17-7 overall.

NDSU redshirt freshman 141-pound Mitch Bengtson (St. Cloud, Minn.) earned a 7-6 tie breaker-2 overtime win over South Dakota State’s Lucas Zilverberg. Bengtson trailed 3-0 entering the third period, but rallied to take a 4-3 lead with time running out. After a video review, Zilverberg was awarded an escape to the score at 4-4. The first-minute overtime was scoreless, the wrestlers traded escapes in a pair of 30-second periods, and went scoreless again in the second one-minute overtime. Bengtson recorded a takedown in the first 30-second period and held off Zilverberg in the second 30 to post the win.

It was the second overtime win of the afternoon for Bengtson, who registered a 5-4 tie breaker-1 overtime win against Northern Colorado’s Benjamin Polkowske. Bengtson improved to 23-10 overall.

NDSU redshirt freshman 149-pound Clay Ream (Wentzville, Mo.) grinded out a 12-2 major decision over South Dakota State’s Alex Kocer in the championship match. Ream opened with a 4-0 decision over Gerald McGinty of Air Force in the semifinals. Ream raised his overall record to 23-11.

North Dakota State senior Kurtis Julson (Inver Grove Heights, Minn.) received an injury forfeit to claim the 174-pound championship. Julson was the runner-up at 184 last season and third at 174 pounds as a sophomore. Julson defeated South Dakota State’s David Kocer 4-2 to advance. Julson improved to 18-9 overall and will make his second NCAA Championships appearance.

Hayden Zillmer, a junior from Crosby, Minn., claimed his second straight NCAA West Region/WWC championship — this one at 184 pounds. He won the 174-pound title last season. Zillmer defeated Wyoming’s Ben Stroh 6-2 in the championship match. He opened with his eighth pin of the season by dispatching Zen Ikehara of Air Force at 5:30. Zillmer, who has won 10 straight matches, raised his overall record to 31-4.

NDSU 285-pound senior Evan Knutson (Wausau, Wis.) was denied his second straight NCAA West Region/WWC title. Knutson lost a 5-3 decision to South Dakota State’s J.J. Everard in the championship match. Knutson, who is 24-8 overall, earned a 4-2 decision over Northern Colorado’s Brian Macchione to advance.

North Dakota State 157 redshirt freshman Grant Nehring (Kimball, Minn.) turned in one of the fastest pins of the NCAA West Region/WWC tournament and went 2-2 to place fourth. He recorded a fall over Air Force’s Samuel Kreimier at 1:53 to make the semifinals. Eventual champion SDSU’s Cody Pack posted a 17-5 major decision over Nehring, who rebounded with a 5-1 decision over Utah Valley’s Logan Addis. Northern Colorado’s Beau Roberts defeated Nehring 8-4 in the third place match.

NDSU 197 redshirt freshman Tommy Petersen (Lakeville, Minn.) went 1-2 at the NCAA West Region/WWC tournament. Petersen opened with a 5-3 win over South Dakota State’s Nathan Rotert, but lost to Northern Colorado’s Trent Noon 9-2 and Jack Carda of Air Force by the score of 3-2. Petersen finished with a 10-18 record. Bison 133 redshirt freshman Kyle Gliva (Inver Grove Heights, Minn.) and 165 redshirt sophomore Steven Keogh (Thief River Falls, Minn.) each went 0-2.

NCAA Division I West Regional results

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