FARGO, N.D. -- Arizona State kicked off their weekend in the Dakotas with a strong showing at the NDSU Bison Open. The Sun Devils would pace the field with seven individual champions. Two unattached SDSU Jackrabbits and one unattached Minnesota Golden Gopher brought home titles for their respective programs.
At 125, ninth-ranked All-American Ryan Millhoff squared off with highly touted Minnesota freshman Patrick McKee. Millhoff was able to secure the opening takedown and a set of back points to take a big lead after two periods. McKee was able to pick up two third period takedowns, but it wasn't enough as the veteran Millhoff took out the freshman McKee 10-4. One other notable result: McKee advanced to the finals with a thrilling 10-7 victory over NDSU NCAA qualifier Paul Bianchi in the semifinals.
133 saw a pair of Sun Devils do battle for the title, as Josiah Kline and Josh Krammer met. Kline would secure the matches lone takedown and come out on top with the 3-2 victory.
141 belonged to SDSU freshman Clay Carlson. Carlson met Arizona State's Cory Crooks. Regulation and the first overtime weren't enough for these two to decide the title. In the first set of rideouts, Carlson was able to get an escape and then ride Crooks out to secure the championship.
Going into the final round, it appeared that 149 and heavyweight were set to be the two premiere battles. 149 would pit outstanding Minnesota freshman Brayton Lee against twelfth ranked Arizona State veteran Josh Maruca. Early on, Lee controlled the match with a variety of leg attacks and he was able to build an early lead behind two takedowns. Although Maruca was down, he was far from out of this fight. Maruca would use a quick escape and subsequent takedown to jump in front of Lee. Maruca was then able to finish strong and stymie Lee to claim the 5-4 victory.
Veteran Christian Pagdilao of Arizona State would take on another one of Minnesota's highly touted freshman, in Ryan Thomas, with the 157-pound title on the line. In this one, the veteran Pagdilao had too much for the freshman from the get-go. Pagdilao would control all facets of this match en route to a strong 13-4 major decision.
165 would bring our second finals matchup of Arizona State teammates. All American Josh Shields, ranked fifth at 157, would take on Jacen Peterson. Shields was incredibly sharp on his feet and rolled to a controlling 12-4 major decision over his teammate.
Returning national champion Zahid Valencia took on NDSU hometown favorite Jesse Shearer at 174. Valencia staked to a quick lead with a beautiful attack. Shearer would actually tie the match up with a reversal, before Valencia would regain the lead with an escape. Valencia would then put the match away with his second takedown, before applying a cradle to secure the fall.
184 brought Arizona State's Kordell Norfleet against NDSU's Michael Otomo. Norfleet was able to utilize his exceptional quickness to secure several takedowns and secure a convincing 12-3 major decision.
197 belonged to SDSU freshman Tanner Sloan. Sloan, a relatively unheralded freshman, continued his strong early season performance, by recording a first period technical fall over Minnesota NCAA qualifier Bobby Steveson. Sloan has now defeated Steveson, 18th ranked Eric Schultz of Nebraska, and Minnesota NCAA qualifier Brandon Krone early this season. Sloan had an entertaining semifinal win over Minnesota freshman Garrett Joles. Both Joles and Sloan are currently redshirting, but these are two youngsters that are definitely worth keeping an eye on.
Heavyweight would bring the match that everyone wanted to see. The consensus top freshman in the country, Minnesota's Gable Steveson, and sixth-ranked Arizona State All American Tanner Hall. This match delivered on all accounts. Steveson generally controlled the action from neutral and very nearly had a first period takedown on the edge. However, with no replay available, the first period ended scoreless. The two wrestlers would trade escapes in the following periods, but neither was able to secure a takedown. In overtime, Steveson would jack Hall up and go for a trip on the edge of the mat. As Hall went to the mat, he appeared to put a whizzer in but Steveson was awarded the two points. Again, with no review, the call would stand, despite the protests from the Arizona State coaches. Neither Steveson or Hall looked pleased to have the match decided in controversial fashion. The Arizona State coaching staff continued to plead their case after the match, but there was nothing that could be done.