North Dakota State qualified three wrestlers to the NCAA Championships in Pittsburgh, PA starting March 21. Brent Fleetwood, Andrew Fogarty, and Lorenzo De La Riva placed within the guaranteed allotment number at their respective weight classes in the Big 12 tournament. Seeded second at 125, Brent Fleetwood scored two decision victories before falling to #2 ranked (nationally) Nick Piccininni of Oklahoma State in the finals. Fleetwood and Piccininni battled scoreless through the first period before Piccininni scored an escape fifteen seconds into the second to make the match score 1-0. Fleetwood took the bottom position in the third but wasn’t able to get away. A riding time point for Piccininni made the final match score 2-0.
From the five seed, Andrew Fogarty avenged two regular season losses including one by 3-2 decision over top seed Branson Ashworth of Wyoming in advancing to the finals. Fogarty started fast in his finals bout with Utah Valley’s Demetrius Romero, scoring two takedowns in the first period and a rideout that made the score 4-1 after the first. Romero battled back with a takedown in both the second and third periods to send the match to overtime. In the overtime period, Romero scored a takedown :13 in for the 8-6 win.
Bison 174 Lorenzo De La Riva went from the six seed to third place, dropping only one match to eventual runner-up Taylor Lujan of Northern Iowa. De La Riva defeated Utah Valley #2 seed Kimball Bastain 10-5 in the third place bout.
The Bison will need to wait and hope for wild cards from wrestlers that didn’t qualify. Both Cam Sykora (133) and Brandon Metz (285) did enough to gain the Big 12 qualifying spots to the NCAA Championships, but neither placed within the required threshold at their respective weight classes and thus are currently out. Sykora finished 1-2, while Metz was 0-2. NDSU 157 Luke Weber could also be considered for a wild card selection, but the Montana native sustained an injury in the consolation semifinals and finished sixth. Wild Card selections and tournament brackets will be released Wednesday.