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Jeff Kolpack, Published November 15 2012

Rodriguez, Bison wrestling open dual season against Boise State

FARGO – North Dakota State was already in the front door of recruit Josh Rodriguez last spring. Then the prep from Guadalupe, Calif., won his weight class in the 23rd annual National High School Wrestling Championships in Virginia Beach, Va.

But like a wrestler riding out a match, NDSU maintained its hold on Rodriguez and he signed a letter of intent. The payoff begins tonight when the Bison open their dual season hosting 24th-ranked Boise State at the Bison Sports Arena.

NDSU is in the midst of one of two stretches of home matches this season. The Bison Quadrangular is Nov. 24 with Minnesota, Eastern Michigan and Itasca Community College (Minn.). Oregon State comes to the BSA on Dec. 9.

Boise won the final five matches last year to win 21-16. NDSU will counter this year with a mix of veterans like senior Trent Sprenkle at 125, junior Steven Monk at 165 and senior Mac Stoll at 184. All three are nationally ranked.

In addition to Rodriguez, freshman Hayden Zillmer at 157 is making his college dual debut. Rodriguez, however, is doing it as a true freshman, which has been rare over the years in the Bison program.

“I feel like I can help the team and get our rankings up there,” Rodriguez said. “As a team, we want to get in the top 20, maybe higher.”

He’s used to success. His high school team had an unbeaten dual record his last two years. He had a

103-10 individual record.

Rodriguez’s connection to NDSU was through his high school coach Andrew Domingues, who was a college teammate of NDSU head coach Roger Kish and Bison assistant Manny Rivera at the University of Minnesota.

“It went back to how they kept in contact with me my junior and senior year,” Rodriguez said. “They were always really interested and that made me want to come here.”

In the end, it came down to NDSU and California State-Bakersfield. It was Rodriguez’s goal to start right away, and he’s done it with success so far.

He’s 8-1 with his only loss 4-2 to Shawn Nagel of Nebraska. He defeated Minnesota’s Randy Hanson on the way to a Bison Open title last weekend.

“The style is way different from high school,” Rodriguez said. “The intensity is way higher and the pace is way faster.

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Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia