Wrestling: Wildcats lose season-opener to North Dakota State


Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Conan Jennings grapples with an opponent. The senior won his first match of the year in the North Dakota State dual.

Peter Warren, Sports Editor


Before No. 17 Northwestern’s matchup with North Dakota State on Sunday, coach Matt Storniolo said the Wildcats were not going to take the meeting with the Bison lightly.

Last season, North Dakota State had upset two top-25 opponents and the Bison had done the same the season before. Storniolo said he did not want his team to fall into the same trap.

But, NU (0-1) became North Dakota State’s (1-0) latest ranked victim, as the Bison picked up six individual victories on their way to a 26-17 win.

North Dakota State opened the match with two victories to put the Cats in an early deficit. At 125 pounds, Brent Fleetwood pinned sophomore Dylan Utterback to give the Bison six points. Utterback wrestled in place of sophomore Sebastian Rivera — who is the No. 3 ranked wrestler in his weight class. Cam Sykora then picked up a 4-0 decision at 133 pounds over No. 18 freshman Colin Valdiviez to give North Dakota State a 9-0 advantage.

In the next bout at 141 pounds, redshirt freshman Yahya Thomas pinned Gavin Sutton to move the Cats within three points, but Jaden Van Maanen responded with a major decision win over junior Shayne Oster to push the lead to 12-6.

No. 6 sophomore Ryan Deakin brought NU the closest to tying the match with a major decision a 157 pounds that brought the Bison lead to only two points. But No. 15 Andrew Fogarty pinned redshirt freshman Tyler Morland at 165 pounds and Tyler McNutt decisioned freshman Brendan Devine at 184 pounds to secure North Dakota State the victory.

Senior Conan Jennings finished the match with a 12-0 major decision at 285 pounds and senior Johnny Sebastian also picked up a victory at 174 pounds.

Following the contest, the Bison jumped into the USA Today rankings, slotting in at No. 22 while the Cats dropped to No. 23.

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