NDSU wrestlers welcome Minnesota to the SHAC on Friday

Top 15 matchup between the Bison and Gophers

Several matches between ranked wrestlers on both sides of the mat, not to mention a Top-15 matchup for the teams are on tap when the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers wrestlers take on the Bison this Friday night at the SHAC. The first match is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.

            The Gophers (4-0, 0-0 Big Ten) are currently ranked #10 in the National Wrestling Coaches Poll (NWC) and #9 in the Intermat Top 30 poll. They feature three wrestlers ranked #4 at their respective weights and no one in their lineup is ranked below #20. The featured matches of the evening should be the two between top ten wrestlers in the land. At 141, NDSU senior and co-captain Dylan Droegemueller, ranked #7, is scheduled to wrestle Minnesota’s Jake Berglund, currently the #4 wrestler in that class, and at 157lbs, the Bison will send out another senior and co-captain, #7 ranked Jared Franek to face the Gopher’s #4 ranked Brayton Lee.

Berglund is 2-1 on the year having suffered an upset defeat at the hands of Oklahoma State’s Carter Young. In the same match in Stillwater last week, Lee was also a victim of a lower-ranked opponent handing him a defeat as well when OSU’s Kaden Gfeller (#10) beat Lee 2-0. Lee, now 1-1, was ranked #2 at the time of that match. The Gophers’ Patrick McKee, at 125lbs, is the Gopher’s other top five wrestler (#4) and is scheduled to wrestle NDSU’s Carlos Negrete Jr., currently ranked #27 in that weight class.

            Meanwhile, the Herd (2-0, 0-0 Big 12) who are currently #15 in the NWCA Poll and 18th in the Intermat Top 30, brings some firepower of its own. Besides Droegemueller and Franek, the Bison feature #13 ranked Michael Caliendo, a red-shirt freshman who is currently 5-0 and raising some eyebrows this season in the 165lb class. Earlier this season, in NDSU’s opening dual, Caliendo stunned the packed house at Nebraska’s Devaney Center when he pinned the Husker’s Jagger Condomitti at 1:20 of the first period. The Bison are currently #15 in the NWCA Poll and 18th in the Intermat Top 30.

 “Yea, that was very exciting. The adrenaline was pumping, and everyone was quiet… except for our fans,” Caliendo said with a smile. “Before that, I had never had any back points or a pin in my college career. To go out and do that within a minute or so in my first dual match was pretty cool.”

Caliendo is scheduled to wrestle Minnesota’s Andrew Sparks, who is currently ranked #25 at 165. This is a rematch as the two met earlier this year at the Bison Open where Caliendo bested Sparks in a close match, 11-10. Caliendo went on to win the Bison Open title in his class.

            “When we started the recruiting process, we understood we had an elite kid,” Bison Head Coach Roger Kish said of Caliendo. “He was one of those ‘diamond in the rough’ type kids who we knew had what it takes to be successful at this level. It didn’t take him long and he is well known throughout the country now.”

            Also winning a title at the Bison Open was NDSU’s Juan Mora who defeated three South Dakota State wrestlers to win the heavyweight class. Mora, another redshirt freshman, is now 4-1 for the Bison. Mora also opened his NDSU dual career with a big win at Nebraska, defeating the #25 ranked Cale Davidson 2-1. The win also clinched the dual for the Bison who knocked off the then-9th-ranked Huskers 20-16.

NDSU heavyweight Juan Mora competes against a South Dakota State wrestler earlier this season at the Bison Open. Mora, and his NDSU teammates face the 10th-ranked Golden Gophers of the University of Minnesota on Friday night at the SHAC. Photo Courtesy | NDSU Athletics

            “Yes, Juan is a good wrestler, a real good wrestler,” Kish said. “He understands the sport and he wrestles hard, and it means a lot to him. He puts a lot of emotion into his training, into his work and into his competition. He is really emerging as one of our leaders.” Mora is scheduled to face the #24 ranked heavyweight in Minnesota’s Garrett Joles.

            Caliendo and Mora are two members of what is shaping up to be an excellent recruiting class for coach Kish. While it is still early for this class, Kish thinks he has something special. “When we recruited that class and the way it ended up and we got to see them all, we thought any one of these guys could develop,” Kish explained. “We felt that these guys could develop in a way in which we believed they could if they stood together, were willing to endure some pretty challenging things and face some adversity along the way, that if they did that, they could do well.”

            Carlos Negrete Jr (4-2), Gabriel Schumm (3-2) and Spencer Mooberry (3-2) join true freshman Fernando Barreto (3-2) along with Caliendo and Mora to make up that class. “This is just the start of what they hopefully are willing and able to accomplish,” Kish said.

            The first match is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. The match will be televised in WDAY Extra. Cullen Holt will handle the play-by-play and former Bison great Jack Maughan will provide the analysis. Student tickets are available at gobison.com/students.

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