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Jeff Kolpack, Published January 24 2011

College wrestling: Bison record dual win

It was the lightest heavyweight match you’re ever going to see in college wrestling. North Dakota State’s 25-12 dual win over Northern Colorado Sunday afternoon ended an adventurous week for Bison sophomore Will Johnson.

He lost his match 8-7 to UNC’s Eric Brennan, who is actually a 184-pounder. Johnson weighs 195, and the only reason he was on the mat at the Bison Sports Arena is that NDSU went all season without a heavyweight.

A former Bison wrestler who quit the sport last year because he said he lost his passion for it, got some advice from his brother, helping him sway his inner debate whether he should come out and help his friends and coaches.

“He said ‘play a video of your life over the next two months and ask what’s the most exciting story that you can write about you,’” Johnson said. “So I thought, not everybody gets the opportunity to do this.”

Johnson said he didn’t want NDSU to lose a tournament title by a couple of points knowing he could have tried to do something about it.

“I just felt it was the right thing to do,” he said.

UNC, knowing Johnson had practiced only one week, forfeited at 184 pounds and moved Brennan to heavyweight.

“We thought their ‘84-pounder was tough and Eric was coming off an injury so we figured it would be a better matchup for us,” said UNC head coach Ben Cherrington. “We had a little strategy going there.”

Johnson notched a two-point reversal at the first period buzzer to lead 3-2. He trailed 5-3 after two, tied it up early in the third, only to give up a reversal with 20 seconds left in the narrow loss.

Still, stamina didn’t look to be a serious problem. Since the match started at 184 pounds, the result tied the team score at 6-6, which for NDSU was three points better than the usual six-point heavyweight forfeit.

“I was in shape, but not wrestling shape,” Johnson said. “There’s a difference. But it went better than expected. I wasn’t as tired and sore in practice this week as I thought I would be.”

Trent Sprenkle’s four-point major decision at 125 pounds and another UNC forfeit at 141 gave the Bison a 16-9 lead. The Bison wrapped it up with decisions from Vince Salminen at 157 and Tyler Johnson at 165.

Still, all wasn’t rosy in the Bison camp. Head coach Bucky Maughan said he wasn’t generally pleased with his team’s effort, with the exception of 149-pounder Mark Erickson, who gave 10th-ranked Justin Gaethje all he could handle at 149. Gaethje got late back points to win 11-5.

“He wasn’t even supposed to be on the mat with him,” Maughan said. “He was our best wrestler today.”

Cherrington said UNC’s usual heavyweight did not travel because of a skin condition. An injury caused a Bear forfeit at 141.

“It’s tough to go into a match giving up 12 points to a team,” Cherrington said. “Ultimately, it came down to the two forfeits.”

184: Moenkedick, NDSU, won by forfeit.

197: Bayer, UNC, dec. Ross 12-5.

Hwt.: Brennan, UNC, dec. Johnson 8-7.

125: Sprenkle, NDSU, major dec. Bauer, 12-0.

133: Cruz, UNC, dec. Solberg, 5-0.

141: Johnson, NDSU, won by forfeit.

149: Gaethje, UNC, dec. Erickson, 11-5.

157: Salminen, NDSU, dec. Weiks, 8-2.

165: Johnson, NDSU, dec. Kammerzell, 9-3.

174: Stoll, NDSU, dec. McAninch, 7-1.

Inforum searchword: Bison wrestling

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the Saturday Morning Sports Show, 9-11 a.m. on WDAY-AM (970).

He can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia