Jeff Kolpack, Published November 20 2012
Bison wrestling earns spot in coaches pollFARGO – Nobody threw a victory party and there was no notice for a celebration at the North Dakota State wrestling room. But the Bison accomplished something on Tuesday that they never have in Division I: a top 25 ranking.
The Bison were 24th this week in the USA Today Division I coaches poll. The impetus was a 24-15 dual victory last week over previously 24th ranked Boise State.
Wrestling becomes the second NDSU team other than football to reach a top 25 national poll ranking in Division I. The 2009 softball team reached No. 21 in the USA Today/softball coaches poll.
“At the end of the day, it’s still a young season,” said head coach Roger Kish. “Your name on a piece of paper is not what we’re all about. This is more of a stepping stone for us.”
Still, it was a nice thing to see for the veterans on the roster, like seniors Trent Sprenkle and Mac Stoll. The Bison were a long way from the top 25 when they were freshmen.
“As a freshman, I don’t know if I ever would have seen this coming,” Sprenkle said. “I didn’t know if it would ever happen individually and as a team.”
Individually, a couple of Bison are climbing in the Amateur Wrestling News weight class ratings. Sprenkle moved up to sixth at 125 pounds and junior Steven Monk is eighth at 165.
Senior Mac Stoll is 17th at 184 pounds. All three are returning national tournament qualifiers from a year ago.
“It’s fun to be part of a good group of hard-working guys,” Stoll said. “They coaches push us every day and it’s starting to show.”
The University of Minnesota remained in first place in the top 25 with seven first-place votes. Penn State was next with three votes. The Bison are sandwiched between No. 23 Purdue and No. 25 Old Dominion.
“It was a nice win over Boise, and the guys performed well,” Kish said. “It’s going to be a long year though. This week is important with Eastern Michigan and Minnesota.
NDSU hosts the Gophers and Eastern Michigan on Saturday in the NDSU Quadrangular at the Bison Sports Arena. NDSU also has No. 15 Oregon State at home on Dec. 9.
The Bison are at No. 7 Missouri and No. 19 Wyoming this season.
NDSU, a perennial Division II power, made the move to Division I in 2004.
“Bucky deserves a lot of the credit, he built the foundation,” Kish said, referring to former head coach Bucky Maughan. “It’s something we’ve continued to build on.”
Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia