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NDSU denies Wyoming a fifth straight Western Wrestling Conference title

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North Dakota State University won the 2014 Western Wrestling Conference/NCAA West Regional team title at UCCO Center at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah Saturday night, stopping University of Wyoming from winning its fifth straight conference crown.

Unlike last year, where only nine points separated the top three teams – and just three points between No. 1 Wyoming and No. 2 NDSU, this year, North Dakota State topped last year’s champions by eight points, and third-place Air Force by 24.

With 74 team points, NDSU could claim three individual champs, all in upper weight classes: Steven Monk successfully defended his title at 165 pound (while earning the tournament's Outstanding Wrestler award), Hayden Zillmer won at 174, and Evan Knutson avenged last year’s finals loss to Utah Valley’s Adam Fager at heavyweight.

If that weren't enough, NDSU's Roger Kish was named Coach of the Year for the second straight year.

Wyoming, with 66 points, also had three champs at the WWC/West Regional, including Tyler Cox at 125, Benjamin Stroh at 184, and Shane Woods at 197.

Air Force placed third with 50 points. Gregory Rinker was the lone Falcon champ, at 133 pounds. Just a half-point behind the Colorado Springs-based service academy was host Utah Valley University, with 49.5 points, and its champ, Avery Garner at 141.

Despite placing fifth in the team points race, South Dakota State had two titlewinners in Alex Kocer and Cody Pack at 141 and 149 pounds, respectively.

The WWC/West Regional will have a minimum of 15 wrestlers as automatic qualifiers for the 2014 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Oklahoma City March 20-22.

Match Results – Championship Finals

  • 125: Tyler Cox (Wyoming) inj. def. Josh Martinez (Air Force), 6:17
  • 133: Gregory Rinker (Air Force) dec. Justin LaValle (NDSU), 8-6
  • 141: Avery Garner (Utah Valley) dec. Cole Mendenhall (Wyoming), 8-7
  • 149: Alex Kocer (SDSU) dec. Natrelle Demison (Air Force), 5-2
  • 157: Cody Pack (SDSU) dec. Andy McCulley (Wyoming), 4-3
  • 165: Steven Monk (NDSU) pinned Dakota Friesth (Wyoming), 2:48
  • 174: Hayden Zillmer (NDSU) dec. John Nething (SDSU), 8-3
  • 184: Benjamin Stroh (Wyoming) dec. Kurtis Julson (NDSU), 8-5
  • 197: Shane Woods (Wyoming) dec. Tyler Lehmann (NDSU), 6-3
  • Hwt: Evan Knutson (NDSU) dec. Adam Fager (Utah Valley) 4-1

Final Team Standings

  1. North Dakota State, 74 team points
  2. Wyoming, 66
  3. Air Force, 50
  4. Utah Valley, 49.5
  5. South Dakota State, 34.5
  6. Northern Colorado, 10.5

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