Bison Send Four Straight to NCAA Division I Championship

North Dakota State’s 125-pound Josh Rodriguez and 157-pound Clay Ream both placed second at the Big 12 Wrestling Championship. 133-pound Cam Sykora placed third, 285-pound Ben Tynan finished fourth. 165-pound Andrew Fogarty, 184-pound Tyler McNutt and 197-pound Cordell Eaton all placed sixth.

North Dakota finished fourth in team standings with 82.5 points. Automatically qualifying Rodriguez, Sykora, Ream and Tynan for the NCAA Division I Championships scheduled for March 16-18 in St. Louis, Missouri.

The conference automatically sends 38 wrestlers to the championships. Many others have the opportunity to be selected for an at-large bid. Those bids were handed out Wednesday night.

Rodriguez dropped a 7-5 sudden victory-2 overtime decision to No. 10-ranked Nick Piccininni. No. 4-ranked Rodriguez was down 2-1 after the first period but tied the score at 2-2 with an escape with 1:39 left in the second period.

Piccininni led 3-2 with an escape early in the third. Rodriguez fought back with the takedown with 33 seconds left for the 4-3 lead. Piccininni’s escape with 27 seconds left tied the match at 4-all. Rodriguez and Piccininni went scoreless in the first overtime period and gained an escape in the 30-second tiebreaker periods for the 5-5 tie.

Piccininni recorded a takedown with 36 seconds left in overtime to take the win. Rodriguez is now 23-2 overall.

Oklahoma State’s No. 6-ranked Joe Smith built a 6-0 lead over NDSU’s Ream with over two minutes of riding time, a takedown and 4-point near fall. Smith gained an early escape in the second and added a point on two minutes and four seconds of riding time. Ream is now 24-4 overall.

Sykora improved to 17-3 overall and 3-1 in the tournament with two wins on the final day. Sykora won his first match posting a 16-6 major decision over Dylan Hyder of Air Force. In a first round rematch, Sykora picked up his second win with his second pin of the season over Northern Colorado’s Rico Montoya at 1:11.

Tynan won his first match of the day and advance with a win 6-1 over Wyoming’s Brandon Tribble. In Tynan’s second match, he fell to Oklahoma’s No. 18-ranked Ross Larson by being pinned at 1:48 in the third-place match. Tynan is now 18-6 overall and went 2-2 at the tournament.

Oklahoma State claimed eight individual titles to win their fifth straight and 15 of the last 21 Big 12 titles with 176.5 points. Oklahoma took runners up with 93.5 points. South Dakota State was third with 90.5 points.

The 133-pound matchup of South Dakota State’s Seth Gross against OSU’s Kaid Brock. Gross won the match in a 9-7 decision marking SDSU’s first Big 12 individual title. Gross was voted Most Outstanding Performer by the Big 12 wrestling coaches at the conclusion of the championship

Cowboy Dean Heil defended his Big 12 Championship defeating Wyoming’s Bryce Meredith, 10-7, for the 141-pound accolade. Meanwhile, Anthony Collica of OSU marked his fourth conference championship, defeating off Sooner Davion Jeffries with a 7-4 decision to win the 149-pound title. Dylan Cottrell recorded West Virginia’s first Big 12 individual championship, as he took a 5-4 decision over OSU’s Chandler Rogers for the 165 title.

Oklahoma State’s Kyle Crutchmer took the 8-4 decision to win the 174 title over Oklahoma’s Matt Reed, while Nolan Boyd recorded his third conference championship in the 184-pound bracket against Dylan Gabel of UNC.

The Cowboys finished the evening with a sweep of the 197-pound and heavyweight bracket. Preston Weigel defeated Jacob Smith by injury default and Austin Marsden defeated Dustin Dennison of Utah Valley, 9-0.

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