Wrestlers eligible for midseason awards either compete for a North Dakota based college, or wrestled their prep career in North Dakota.
Coach Of The Year: Adam Aho (University of Mary)
The Marauders had about as good a start to the season as anyone could have imagined, with their biggest victory coming at home over #9 Upper Iowa. The lone hiccup in the first half was a home loss to #19 Mankato. Aho has a core of veterans that took lumps as freshman two years ago, but are now stepping up to the plate in a big way. Couple that with a group of talented underclassmen led by #165 Philip Springsteen and the chances are strong Aho gets his first national qualifier or even qualifiers this March.
Wrestler of The Year: Rudy Guillen (Mary)
Guillen’s only loss of the season came by injury default at the Midwest Classic right before Christmas Break. Guillen showed serious grit by finishing the last two minutes of that match with a dislocated shoulder. Guillen is currently ranked second in the country at 149 pounds, and dominated #9 Damian Penichet of Upper Iowa by major decision 19-7. Guillen has the goods to be national champion this season, but he will need to get through loaded Super Regional first.
Mitch Eull (Minot State): The senior enters the second half of the season with a 14-2 overall record including a 6-0 mark in duals. Eull’s lone NSIC loss came 9-6 at the hands of St. Cloud State’s #12 ranked Lawrence Phillips.
Clay Ream (North Dakota State): Ream is 11-3 on the year, with two losses coming against All Americans Alex Pantaleo of Michigan and Michael Kemerer of (Iowa). Ream also fell to Cole Hammond of Cal-Bakersfield 19-14 at the Cliff Keen Invite in early December. Ream’s lone victory over a ranked opponent came in an 8-3 decision over #19 Luke Zilverberg of South Dakota State.
Most Valuable Lineup Newcomer:
Paul Bianchi (North Dakota State): Bianchi had some questionable losses to start the year, but also has the wins to put him in the national qualifier picture at 125 pounds this season. Bianchi’s two losses to Northern Iowa’s Jay Schwarm showed that he struggles against the most physical of 125 pound wrestlers, but hopefully by March the gap continues to narrow and Bianchi stamps a ticket to Cleveland for the NCAA championships.
Most Valuable Redshirt:
Brandon Metz: North Dakota State
Metz was lights out until taking two losses at the UNI Open in his last competition of the first semester. Up to that point, Metz’s combination of upper body positioning and leg attacks had frustrated everyone but high school phenom Gable Steveson. In the Daktronics Open third place match, Metz upended Nebraska’s David Jensen by quick first period fall. The two losses at the UNI Open, one 4-3 to Wisconsin redshirt Trent Hiliger and one by fall to South Dakota State’s Kevin Vough, showed that Metz still has tons of work to do. That said, the West Fargo native should make big gains this offseason and be ready to battle Bison starter Dan Stibral for the job in the fall.