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Jeff Kolpack, Published January 22 2014

Around the world and back again for NDSU's Lehmann

Fargo - The new kid in North Dakota State’s wrestling lineup isn’t really a kid anymore. The roster says Tyler Lehmann is a freshman, but the fact is he has more experience than a lot of college seniors.

The last time area wrestling fans watched Lehmann, he was helping West Fargo High School win a 2010 North Dakota Class A state championship. Then it was off to chase a world wrestling team or Olympic dream.

He spent almost two years at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. He spent last year in St. Paul working on making the U.S. world team in Greco-Roman style wrestling.

His resume includes two trips to Europe, one to Brazil, a freestyle championship in the U.S. Junior World Team Trials, fifth- and seventh-place finishes in the U.S. World Team Trials in freestyle and a fourth in Greco.

Now, at 22 years old, it’s back to the folkstyle used in U.S. high schools and colleges.

“It was a good adventure going from folkstyle to freestyle,” Lehmann said. “Getting back to folkstyle is a transition, but I’m glad it’s happening now.”

NDSU is happy he’s transitioning back, too. Ineligible the first semester to get his academic standing in order, he was inserted into the lineup at 197 pounds and has been part of a Bison surge that has them ranked in the USA Today/National Wrestling Coaches Association top 25 poll. Their No. 23 ranking is the highest in school history in the Division I era.

“We’re definitely going up,” Lehmann said.

He pinned his guy in NDSU’s win at Boise State, but came up short in the victory over previously No. 20-ranked Oregon State. Lehmann’s opponent, Taylor Meeks, was the country’s No. 1-ranked wrestler at that weight at the beginning of the season.

“Like I said, I’m still kind of transitioning from freestyle and Greco to folkstyle, but I know what I need to work on now,” Lehmann said of the Meeks match. “So it was good, and I’m glad it happened to me now and helped me prepare for March.”

Lehmann is 3-1 in duals with all three victories by pin. He registered falls in NDSU’s first two duals of this month at California State Bakersfield and California Poly.

“He gives us another top-notch guy in our lineup,” said Bison senior Steven Monk, “and that’s what we need to become one of the top-notch teams at the Division I level.”

Monk is doing his part – he’s ranked third at 165 pounds, the highest an NDSU individual has ever been ranked. The Bison (6-3) will put their status on the line at 7 p.m. Friday when they host Air Force in a Western Wrestling Conference dual.

“The biggest turnaround for us and this program is we’re going out and wrestling hard for seven minutes,” said NDSU head coach Roger Kish. “We go out on the mat, and the guys are confident.”

Confidence has never been a problem for Lehmann, who won a Minnesota state championship at Apple Valley before coming back to West Fargo for his senior season.

His younger brother, highly touted recruit Preston Lehmann from West Fargo, is redshirting.

“Me and my brother have always been very close,” Tyler said. “Our whole family is very close.”

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia