Bison wrestling rolls through weekend duals

Bison defeat Wyoming and Utah Valley to move to 3-1

After a successful semester break which included a runner-up finish at the Southern Scuffle in Chattanooga, Tenn., and a sweep of Sanford University and California-Baptist in California, the North Dakota State University wrestling team returned to Scheels Center this past weekend to open up the home portion of their Big XII conference schedule. The Bison defeated the University of Wyoming Cowboys 32-3 on Saturday and beat the Wolverines of Utah Valley State on Sunday by a score of 31-12.

NDSU 32 – Wyoming 3

            Wrestling at home for the first time since Dec. 11th, the Bison made quick work of the Cowboys. After a loss in the opening match at 125lbs., the Herd reeled off nine straight victories to bring the dual victory home. Bison grapplers at the upper weights provided the team with bonus points as Gavin Sax (174), DJ Parker (184) and Owen Pentz (197) collected bonus point wins for NDSU.

Sax, wrestling Wyoming’s Brett MacIntosh, turned MacIntosh on his back in the second for a four-point near fall. Starting on the bottom in period three, Sax reversed MacIntosh and turned him once again for the 9-0 victory.

Meanwhile, Parker ranked #28 in his class, used two four-point near falls in addition to a two-point near fall to beat the Cowboys’ Quayin Short 13-2 for another major decision.

Pentz, now ranked #15, pinned the Cowboys’ Tyce Raddon at the 1:46 mark of the first period to give his team six points. It was Pentz’s sixth pin of the current season as well as the quickest of his career.  

In one of the highlight matches of the dual, NDSU’s Jared Franek, ranked #2 in the country at 157lbs., defeated Wyoming’s Jacob Wright (#13) 3-1 in sudden death. Franek worked through a scramble with Wright and took him down to secure the win. It was Franek’s 27th win over a ranked opponent, moving him into first place on the all-time wins over a ranked opponent list in the program’s D-I history.

The 29-point victory is the largest win for the Bison (7-2, 2-1 Big XII) over Wyoming (0-6, 0-6 Big XII) in series history, with the previous largest win coming in a 29-10 victory in February of 2008, also in Fargo. The 32 points are the most in a dual for the Bison against Wyoming all time and the three points allowed are the fewest.

NDSU 31 – Utah Valley 12

            On Sunday at Scheels Center, the Bison jumped out to a quick 24-0 lead by winning the first five matches of the dual. Starting the dual at the 149-pound weight class, NDSU’s Kellyn March, ranked 17th, pinned Utah Valley’s Isaiah Delgado a mere 61 seconds into their match to put the Herd up 6-0. It was March’s second pin of the year.

            The Bison 174-pounder, Gaven Sax, gave his team their second six-point victory by pinning Utah Valley’s Cameron Haddock at the 3:10 mark of the second period. After starting on the bottom position, Sax reversed Haddock and put him on his back for his second victory of the weekend and gave the Bison a 19-0 lead.

            Jared Franek continued his winning ways by laying a 12-4 major decision on the Wolverines’ Tyson Humphreys. Franek had five takedowns in the match.

            In the final match at 141, Bison freshman Sean Solis saw his first collegiate action in a dual win over Utah Valley’s James Emmer 11-5. Solis, from Fountain Valley, Calif., gave up two takedowns in the first and found himself behind 4-0. In the second period, Solis would takedown Emmer to close in on the lead 5-4. Starting the third period in the down position, Solis escaped Emmer, took him down and recorded a late four-point near fall to win 11-5.

Tale of the Tape –

            The following Bison went 2-0 over the weekend: Midkiff (133), March (149), Franek (157), Caliendo (165), Sax (174) and Parker (184). The Bison are now 8-2, 3-1 Big XII. The dual wins are Roger Kish’s wins #103 & #104. Entering the weekend, the Bison had eight ranked wrestlers, also a record for the Division I era. The Bison are currently ranked 17th.

Franek and Caliendo –

Franek (15-1) entered the weekend as the #2 ranked 157-pounder in the country. This is the highest any NDSU wrestler has been ranked in the Division I era. Meanwhile, Caliendo continues to win and is now 16-2. His two losses are to the 2021 national champion (Missouri’s Keegan O’Toole) and the 2022 national runner-up (Stanford’s Shane Griffith), a loss he avenged later at Stanford on the Cardinal home mat. He is now ranked 13th in his weight class.

Up next for the Herd –

            The Bison now hit the road to continue their Big XII schedule. They travel to Colorado to take on the Air Force Academy on February 3rd and the Northern Colorado Bears on February 4th. The Herd returns home to face the Sooners of Oklahoma University on February 10th at 7 p.m. at Scheels Center. Student tickets are available at

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