The South Dakota State wrestling team hosts the last dual of the season when the Utah Valley Wolverines travel to Brookings, S.D., to face the Jackrabbits in Western Wrestling Conference action Friday night in Frost Arena. The dual, slated to begin at 7 p.m., also marks the last home match for Jackrabbit senior Kevin Kelly.
SDSU’s probable lineup for the final dual of the season includes: open (125 pounds), open (133 pounds), Tyler Johnson (141 pounds), Andrew Youngblom (149 pounds), Nick Flynn (157 pounds), John Nething II (165 pounds), David Michaud (174 pounds), Joe Rasmussen (184 pounds), Cord Willers (197 pounds) and Kevin Kelly (285 pounds).
Jacks by numbers – The eight grapplers on the probable lineup for the matchup against UVU own 48 bout wins.
The Jacks have 69 wins by decision, 21 wins by major decision and six wins by technical fall. The probable lineup for the dual against UVU collectively has 22 wins by decision and eight wins by major decision.
Jackrabbit senior Kevin Kelly – Kevin Kelly came to SDSU after a season of competing for Iowa Central Community College. Kelly placed seventh at 197 pounds at Iowa Central, earning Junior College All-American accolades as a redshirt freshman.
As a sophomore at SDSU, Kelly recorded a 6-11 record, wrestling mainly at 174 pounds for the Jackrabbits.
Last season as a junior, Kelly picked up a 4-1 decision win over fellow heavyweight Joe Arthur at North Dakota State to give the Jacks their first win over the Bison since 1997.
The Oak Lawn, Ill. native finished fourth at last season’s NCAA West Regional after he defeated L.J Helbig of Wyoming by fall in four minutes 59 seconds.
Earlier this season, Kelly secured the Jackrabbit’s win over Wisconsin-Whitewater at the Northwestern Duals with his decision victory over James Zarate. He also picked up a decision win over Conor Sweeney of Bucknell at the Nebraska Triangular in November. Last week he earned a major decision win over NDSU’s Will Johnson.
Kelly owns a 10-15 record for his senior season, including 2-3 in the Western Wrestling Conference.
This week’s Competition
Utah Valley Wolverines – Utah Valley enters the weekend with a 4-3 record overall and 2-1 in the WWC. The Wolverines boast two wrestlers ranked by both Intermat and the NCAA coaches’ panel rankings and Rating Percentage Index (RPI) in Ben Kjar and Flint Ray.
No. 13 (Intermat) Kjar, also ranked 11th on the coaches’ panel ranking, is the all-time career wins leader for UVU with 120 victories. The 125-pounder is 21-4 on the season, including a perfect 7-0 in duals. Last week, he defeated Tyler Spangler of Air Force by fall in just one minute 41 seconds. The win was a milestone for Kjar as he managed to compete his entire collegiate career without losing a home match.
No. 13 Ray, also ranked 13th on the coaches’ panel ranking, owns a 17-2 record on the season. The junior 133-pounder helped the Wolverines to a win over Air Force last week when he pinned Derek Gillespie at the 2:51 mark.
The Wolverines defeated Northern Colorado and Air Force 25-13 and 23-20, repspectively. UVU lost to no. 25 Wyoming 23-15 in WWC action.
Utah Valley’s probable lineup against the Jackrabbits includes: No. 13 Ben Kjar (125 pounds), No. 13 Flint Ray (133 pounds), Justin Morrill (141 pounds), Josh Wilson (149 pounds), Avery Garner (149 pounds), Richard Wagner (157 pounds), Abner Cook (157 pounds), Jeb Clark (165 pounds), Brad Darrington (174 pounds), Casen Eldredge (184 pounds), Trevor Rupp (197 pounds) and Christian Denny (285 pounds).
The Jacks are 1-4-0 against the Wolverines all time.
Wrestlers on Facebook – Fans can show their support for the Jackrabbit wrestlers on Facebook. Log onto Facebook.com/JackrabbitWrestling to keep up with the Jackrabbit grapplers.
Fans can also follow Jackrabbit Athletics on the all new Facebook page by logging onto Facebook.com/SDSU.Jackrabbit.Nation.
Jackrabbit Extra – Subscribers to the Jackrabbit Extra on GoJacks.com can view select SDSU wrestling matches live on the internet. To subscribe to the Jackrabbit Extra, log onto GoJacks.com, select Jackrabbit Extra on the Audio/Video tab and click “sign up.”
Jackrabbit Insider on FOX and FSN – “Jackrabbit Insider” airs at 10:30 p.m. Sundays on KTTW FOX 7. The show can also be seen on FOX Sports North Tuesdays at 6 p.m. CT. FOX College Sports Central will air the program Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. “Jackrabbit Insider” is also available through the Jackrabbit Extra video on-demand service at GoJacks.com.
Hosted by Tyler Merrium, “Jackrabbit Insider” is a weekly half-hour program that provides Jackrabbit fans with a behind-the-scenes look at South Dakota State University Athletics.
Michaud wrestled through a scoreless first period before putting an escape point on the board against NDSU’s Tyler Wells. An escape by Wells and a takedown by Michaud upped the score 3-1. Michaud pulled out a three-point near fall before winning the match 7-1 with the extra riding-time point. The decision win puts the 174-pounder at 9-6 on the season with a 2-2 WWC record.
Kelly defeated fellow heavyweight Will Johnson by major decision, 18-4. A series of Kelly takedowns and Johnson escapes ended the first period with Kelly up 6-2. Kelly notched another takedown early in the second period and turned it into a three-point near fall. The third period started at 13-3 but Kelly soon put four more points on the board with two takedowns. The riding-time point gave Kelly the 18th point for a major decision victory. Kelly improves to 10-15 on the season and 2-3 in the WWC.
Next Up – The Jacks head to the NCAA West Regional March 6 in Colorado Springs, Colo.