NDSU’s Franek wins NCAA Elite 90 award
Four of the five wrestlers North Dakota State University sent to Detroit to compete in the 2021-22 NCAA Wrestling Championships qualified for Day Two action but were eventually eliminated and did not survive to the third and final day. The championships, held at Little Caesar’s Arena on March 17 – 19, signaled the end of the Bison wrestling season.
NDSU’s Jared Franek entered the tournament as the 6th ranked wrestler at 157 pounds, the highest ranked Bison at the tournament. Franek opened up his tournament with a dominating win over Wisconsin’s Garrett Model, the 27th ranked 157-pounder. Franek dominated the first period of that match with a quick takedown, followed by a four-point near fall, and a two-point near fall to close the first period leading 8-0. Franek would go on to win that match 10-0.
Next up for Franek was The Citadel’s Dazjon Casto in Thursday evening’s second round. This match was close, but Franek survived and moved on to the quarterfinal round with a 3-2 decision. Franek broke the 2-2 tie when he earned an escape from Casto after starting the third period on the bottom.
In Friday’s quarterfinal match, Franek met No. 3 Jacori Teemer from Arizona State. Teemer led 2-1 after the first period, but Franek would tie the match up at 2-2 with a second period escape. Teemer would advance to the semis and drop Franek into the consolation wrestle-backs with a one-point escape and a two-point take down to win 5-3.
In Friday’s evening consolation round, Franek met an old nemesis in Iowa State’s David Carr, the top-ranked wrestler at 157 pounds. Franek and Carr had previously met this season and Carr had won both matches. Carr decisioned Franek in Ames, Iowa by a score of 7-3 and won again 8-2 in the championship match of the 157-pound weight division at the Big 12 Conference Tournament in Tulsa, Okla., the previous week. Carr had been upset in the quarterfinal round by Oregon State’s Hunter Willits, ranked No. 17 at 157 pounds, in a 2-1 match that went to overtime. In the Friday morning wrestle backs, the third time was no charm for Franek as he lost in a heartbreaker 4-3. Franek led 3-2 early in the third by escaping Carr, but Carr took down Franek with :26 left to win and end Franek’s and North Dakota State’s season.
Luke Weber, North Dakota State’s 165-pounder, was the only other Bison to win his first match when he defeated Lehigh’s Brian Meyer 3-0 in Thursday’s opening round. Weber then was sent down to the wrestle backs by Cal-Poly’s Evan Wick, the No. 1 ranked wrestler in the class, by a score of 10-5.
Franek wins NCAA Elite 90 award
Franek has a 4.00 grade-point average majoring in sports management with a minor in business administration. The Harwood, N.D. native was presented with the award prior to Saturday night’s championship round at the Little Caesars Arena.
Franek is North Dakota State’s 16th Elite 90 award winner across five different sports, and he is the second Bison wrestler to win the honor, joining Clay Ream, who was the recipient of the award in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
The Elite 90, an award founded by the NCAA, recognizes the true essence of the student-athlete by honoring the individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the national championship level in his or her sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among his or her peers. The Elite 90 is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the site of the finals for each of the NCAA’s championships.