North Dakota State wrestling team lost its season-opener Friday with a 25-14 non-conference loss to University of Virginia.
After starting the match strong with wins in three of the four opening weight classes, the Bison struggled to bounce back, posting just one more win throughout the duration of the match.
Ranked sixth in the country, NDSU senior Hayden Zillmer started the day at Bentson Bunker Fieldhouse Friday with a 20-7 major decision over Will Schany, improving to 5-0 on the season.
Zillmer wasn’t the only Bison wrestler to shine, as 285-pound newcomer, junior college transfer Ben Tynan came back from a 5-2 deficit to defeat Pat Gillen 7-5 in overtime.
“We’re really happy with our heavyweight,” said head coach Roger Kish, discussing Tynan’s victory.
Next, in the 125-pound class, Bison junior Josh Rodriguez shutout his opponent, Joe Martinez, posting an 8-0 major decision. Rodriguez, ranked 17th in the country, has won five of six matches this season, seeing Friday’s win come to fruition after a 4-point near fall late in the second period.
Zillmer said after the match that the young team looks to him as a leader, emphasizing the goal is to develop the young wrestlers on the squad.
With the last six matchups of the day ending in underclassmen losses, it comes as no surprise that NDSU’s emphasis fall on its young performers.
“It’s going to be about getting these guys mat time and experience,” Kish said when asked about the improvement process of the team’s underclassmen.
The team’s head coach was positive after Friday’s loss, discussing mainly the assessment of the team’s progress and planning for the rest of the season.
“We can’t hang our hats on this one, not on the first match of the year,” Kish said. “We knew that they were going to be tough and we’ve got to get better. It was a good opportunity to see where we’re at.”
NDSU returns to host the 45th annual Bison Open at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Fargodome.