USAFA, Colo. -- Freshman Josh Martinez (Colorado Springs, Colo.) came up with an upset in the first bout of the evening, but the Air Force wrestling team was unable to continue the early momentum, falling to North Dakota State, 23-15, Friday evening in Clune Arena.
The Falcons, ranked 24th by InterMat, fall to 8-2 overall on the season and 0-1 in the Western Wrestling Conference, while 22nd-ranked North Dakota State moves to 6-7 overall and 1-0 in the WWC.
Martinez, ranked 11th in the nation at 125 pounds, faced a tough opponent in sixth-ranked Trent Sprenkle, a two-time NCAA qualifier and defending West Regional champion. While Martinez scored the first takedown of the match, Sprenkle closed out the first period with five unanswered points. Sprenkle increased his lead to 6-2 before Martinez scored a takedown that led to a pin with 37 seconds remaining in the second period. With the win, Martinez improved his season record to 21-6 on the year, while Sprenkle suffered just his third loss of the season.
Sophomore Dylan Hyder (Yelm, Wash.) earned a close win at 133 pounds to put the Falcons up 9-0 in the team scoring, earning a 7-6 decision over Josh Rodriguez. Hyder held a 3-0 lead early in the third period, but after a flurry of scoring in the final minute, the match was tied 6-6 at the end of regulation. Hyder, who held the advantage for most of the first period, was given an extra point for riding time to earn the victory.
The Falcons dropped decisions in the next two weight classes, but a fall by junior Josh Kreimier (Fort Collins, Colo.) at 157 pounds pushed Air Force's lead back to 15-6. Unfortunately, North Dakota State captured wins in each of the last five matches, including a pair of overtime decisions at 174 and 184 pounds, to secure the team victory.
"Obviously we're not happy with the way things ended, but we got off to a great start," said Air Force head coach Joel Sharratt. "Josh Martinez represented his ability and did a great job battling through a little bit of adversity early onócoming back and putting the guy on his back and ultimately getting the pin there. Dylan Hyder is continuing to wrestle in a very positive fashion. He beat a nationally ranked guy last week and a former high school national champ this week, so he's on the right track."
"With a couple of weight classes, I think as a team we let a few things get away too easily on the mat," continued Sharratt. "We didn't win the battle of heart tonight. We didn't compete with the same intensity that we've had in the past that got us to where we are right now. I challenged guys after the match that they need to look inside and find that heart and come back Sunday and compete with 100 percent intensity and 100 percent focus. The two teams we're wrestling on Sunday aren't going to be overlooking us and we're certainly not overlooking them."
The Falcons are back in action on Sunday, Jan. 27, for two more duals, as they host conference foe South Dakota State at 1:00 p.m., followed by a match versus Western State Colorado at 4:00 p.m.
125: No. 11 Josh Martinez (AF) fall No. 6 Trent Sprenkle, 4:23
133: Dylan Hyder (AF) dec. Josh Rodriguez, 7-6
141: Mark Erickson (NDSU) dec. Carter McElhany, 10-5
149: Joe Garner (NDSU) dec. Logan Burch, 12-7
157: Josh Kreimier (AF) fall Tanner Carlisle, 4:29
165: No. 6 Steven Monk (NDSU) tech fall Tyler Mergen, 17-1 (6:44)
174: Kurtis Julson (NDSU) dec. Dan Barringer, 3-1 (SV1)
184: Mac Stoll (NDSU) dec. Devin Hightower, 4-2 (TB1)
197: Kallen Kleinschmidt (NDSU) dec. Josh Mohr, 7-3
285: Evan Knutson (NDSU) dec. Bentley Alsup, 8-3