WATCH: No. 20 Bison wrestle past Oregon State

Cam Sykora, right, of North Dakota State wrestles Kegan Calkins of Oregon State during their 133-pound match on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018, in Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

FARGO -- It was debatable which North Dakota State wrestling coach had the more outrageous wardrobe. It was ugly sweater night at the Sanford Health Athletic Complex and the Bison coaches did their part.

Assistant Jarrod Garnett had a very loud Christmas suit coat. Head coach Roger Kish had Mickey Mouse with a Santa hat on the front of his thick, red and green sweater.

“It was probably 140 degrees underneath that thing,” he said.

Bison freshman Jaden Van Maanen liked assistant Matt Nagel’s flashing reindeer look. On the mat, in a non-conference dual against Oregon State, the Bison wrestlers were dressed for success. NDSU, No. 20 in the latest Division I top 25 poll, looked like a nationally-ranked team in taking a 31-13 victory.


The Big 12 Conference Bison improved to 5-1 overall and dropped the Pac-12 Conference Beavers to 1-2.

“I think we were expecting a tough fight and it was great to see our guys … really shine through,” Kish said. “The effort and energy was something we spent a lot of time drilling into these guys the last 10 days and it was evident tonight.”

The Beavers had one highlight and that was in the matchup of two top-10 wrestlers. No. 3 Ronnie Bresser pinned No. 8 Brent Fleetwood at 125 pounds. Since the match started at 149, however, OSU was already cooked in the team score.

“One thing, we have more confidence as a team,” said Bison junior Andrew Fogarty. “We know we can wrestle with all of these teams and we know we can beat them. The confidence is better and that’s a difference maker.”

NDSU got off on the right foot with the match starting at 149 pounds with Van Maanen. He registered a four-point near fall in the second period. Several seconds later, Van Maanen made another move stick and pinned Zach Evans to give the Bison a 6-0 lead.

One match later, Fogarty joined the fall party. He stuck Aaron Olmos to the mat early in the second period and the Bison led 12-3.

“We have a talented group of guys out there wrestling and a lot of ability to score points,” Kish said. “That’s what college wrestling has turned into. You give the student-athlete an opportunity to go out there and score points and it creates energy for the community and the fan base.”

NDSU got a boost at 184 with the dual debut of sophomore Michael Otomo from Dover, Minn. Otomo appeared to overcome fatigue in the third period to take an 11-6 decision over Myles Terry.


More importantly, the Bison led 18-3 at the halfway point with the only defeat to No. 17-ranked Hunter Willits at 157. Cordell Eaton snapped a three-match losing streak at 197, two of them to ranked wrestlers, getting a two-point near fall at the buzzer that was worth a major decision and one more team point.

The Bison were rolling at 22-3.

Freshman Brandon Metz followed that with another major decision at 285. By the time the feature match came around, the final team score was a formality with NDSU leading 26-3.

Fleetwood and Bresser wrestled to a scoreless first period. But Bresser caught the Bison senior on a move off of a takedown and pinned Fleetwood 43 seconds into the second period.

“You can’t let your guard down against a top competitor like that,” Kish said. “We learned a hard lesson today.”

NDSU will head south after Christmas with the South Beach Duals in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Dec. 29-30.

The Bison will leave the sweaters in Fargo.

“That was good, anytime you can lighten the mood and have fun as a staff, it’s always a good thing,” Kish said.


149: Van Maanen, NDSU, pinned Evans, 5:55. 157: H. Willits, OSU, dec. Knutson, 10-4. 165: Fogarty, NDSU, pinned Olmos, 3:24. 174: De La Riva, NDSU, dec. Doyle, 11-7. 184: Otomo, NDSU, dec. Terry, 11-6. 197: Eaton, NDSU, dec. Coleman, 12-3. 285: Metz, NDSU, dec. Grant, 14-6. 125: Bresser, OSU, pinned Fleetwood, 3:43. 133: Sykora, NDSU, tech fall Calkins, 19-3, 7:00. 141: G. Willits, OSU, dec. 13-0.

Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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