FARGO-As far as duals go, this one will go down as one of the more deflating in North Dakota State's NCAA Division I wrestling history. Iowa State put on its rally cap and not only won the last five matches, but won in the scorebook as well.
It ended 20-20, but the Cyclones had the criteria advantage by winning six of 10 matches to take a 21-20 victory Friday at Scheels Center at Sanford Health Athletic Complex. The loss kept the Bison winless in the Big 12 Conference at 0-6 and probably more disheartening the chance to beat one of the established league programs.
"The feeling right now sucks," said Bison sophomore Cam Sykora. "But we have to regroup and get better."
The feeling after the first three matches was the opposite. It was 17-0 with the Bison coming out aggressive and confident, two traits that had been lacking too many times at home this season.
Bison freshman Paul Bianchi set the pace at 125 pounds. He put Sinjin Briggs on his back immediately to start the second period and spent the rest of the two minutes flirting with the pin. Briggs fought it, before finally succumbing with 21 seconds left in the period and the fall gave the Bison a 6-0 lead.
"In practice I worked on getting after it in the first 15 to 30 seconds and that's what I tried to do, get to my attacks," Bianchi said.
Sykora followed with two quick takedowns in the first period at 133 and it was obvious this was a different Bison team than in previous home duals. He added a four-point near fall in the second period and another in the third to win by technical fall.
It was suddenly 11-0. Making matters worse for the Cyclones: They took a forfeit at 141 with an injury to 15th-ranked Ian Parker.
That made it 17-0.
It looked virtually over when NDSU's Clay Ream won at 157 for a 20-3 advantage. But ISU had other thoughts.
"This team has a lot of fight," said Cyclones head coach Kevin Dresser.
A key, Dresser said, was at 165 when Brady Jennings defeated No. 21-ranked Andrew Fogarty 7-2, a decision that started the ISU comeback.
"Jennings, holy smokes, he beat a top 25 guy," Dresser said. "In the wrestling world he's a nobody who just became a somebody."
The Cyclones followed with a couple more wins at 174 and 184 and the lead was down to 20-13. Moreover, the early momentum the Bison built was slowly dissipating, if not gone.
"It's disappointing," said NDSU head coach Roger Kish. "The first five weights did what they were supposed to do, the last five guys didn't."
NDSU's Cordell Eaton and ISU's Sam Colbray put some drama into their match at 197, with Eaton unable to hold a 3-1 lead late in the match. Colbray got a takedown with 10 seconds left to tie it, then won in overtime on a takedown.
That left it up to Bison heavyweight Dan Stibral not to lose by more than a decision, which is three team points.
It appeared he was on his way taking a 2-2 tie into the third period. But ISU's Marcus Harrington got a late near-fall and his 10-2 major decision was worth four team points and a 20-20 tie.
After a brief discussion at the scorers' table double checking criteria, ISU was declared the winner.
"The last five guys have to come out and wrestle, show more heart and wrestle," Kish said. "They're not wrestling well right now and they know it. We have to find a way to lift these guys back up."
125: Bianchi, NDSU, pinned Briggs, 4:39. 133: Sykora, NDSU, tech fall Simmons, 19-4, 6:29. 141: Midkiff, NDSU, won by forfeit. 149: Degen, ISU, dec. Gliva, 8-2. 157: Ream, NDSU, dec. Straw, 8-2. 165: Jennings, ISU, dec. Fogarty, 7-2. 174: Bush, ISU, dec. Urbach, 12-9. 184: Pestano, ISU, major dec. Witzig, 19-5. 197: Colbray, ISU, dec. Eaton, 5-3 (ot). 285: Harrington, ISU, major dec. Stibral, 10-2.