|174||Starter||Next Man Up||Keep your eye on|
|JR||Dylan Urbach||Charley Popp|
While NDSU is loaded with bodies at 174, the big question for me is what kind of production Coach Kish can get from with those bodies. Last season, after battling back and forth at 184 with teammate Tyler McNutt in the earliest part of the season, Dylan Urbach made the move down to 174 and finished the season there. Urbach was 12-12 in competition and 5-7 in duals. The Lisbon, ND, native went 2-2 at both Midlands and and the Big 12 championships. Urbach has the experience of two full seasons of Division 1 wrestling and should be the front runner to hold the class this season. He still possesses the slick motion that made him a North Dakota prep star, but has had trouble in the past keeping a high pace in matches against high end D1 talent. Urbach made a nice jump in weight last fall, so expect him to be better adapted and conditioned for 174 this season.
Urbach’s biggest competition form the starting role will likely to come from junior Charley Popp and freshman Nick Knutson, with division III transfer Michael Otomo and Blake Thomson providing further depth. Popp was 8-3 last season over the course of two open competitions. The junior is the only other 174 with dual experience, having wrestled gone 0-2 at 165 two seasons ago. Nick Knutson is an interesting freshman this season coming of an 11-5 redshirt year at 165.
The future of this weight class is West Fargo 3X state champion freshman Jesse Shearer, who is likely to redshirt. Shearer didn’t have the dazzling freestyle season that I expected, but that doesn’t change my opinion on him moving forward. After finishing undefeated at Junior Duals two season ago, Shearer took a few losses in Tulsa this year, and missed the All American podium in Fargo. I think Shearer’s grinding skill set is best suited for Folkstyle, and look forward to seeing how he competes with the rest of these Bison at the Bison Open in early November.
I am beating a dead horse for those of you that follow NDwrestle closely, but I became a believer in Tyler McNutt last season. Two seasons ago, I watched McNutt in the NDSU lineup and wondered if he would ever become a reliable starter for the Bison. Last year, McNutt looked every bit a Division 1 competitor while finishing 14-14 with a 10-9 dual record. The St. Joseph, MO native was sixth at the Big 12 last year, and had a signature win in the South Dakota State dual over their impressive freshman Martin Mueller. I do think that McNutt will be in the mix as a possible national qualifier for the Bison this season.
Cole Witzig had an up and down 8-5 record as a true freshman last season, and will provide depth behind McNutt.