South Dakota State wrestler Cody Pack punched his ticket to the NCAA Championships with a runner-up finish at 157.
Pack upset second-seeded Andy McCulley from Wyoming in the semifinals to secure his bid to the national tournament. McCulley had won the two previous meetings this season by decision and fall, but Pack won the one that counted.
Four SDSU wrestlers remain in the draw, with three having a potential qualifier match. The remaining wrestlers and scenarios are listed below.
The championship bout at 157 pitted Cody Pack against Josh Kreimier (AF). The two traded takedowns early in the first period, but Kreimier added an escape to his total for a 3-2 lead. Kreimier scored another takedown and two three-point near falls for an 11-2 lead at the end of one. Pack, with the option, chose down to start the second period and Kreimier rode out the entire second period. In the process, he scored another three-point near fall and led 14-2 after two. Kreimier chose down in the third period and quickly escaped and added a takedown for a 17-2 tech fall.
157 Championship – #1 Josh Kreimier (AF) tech fall #3 Cody Pack, 17-2
Note: #3 Pack secured automatic qualifier with second-place finish at 157 pounds
In the third-place match at 149 pounds, Dustin Walraven wrestled Brandon Richardson (WYO). The first minute was a stalemate, as Walraven nearly scored a takedown, but Richardson flipped it on him and scored the two points. Walraven escaped after nearly one minute to cut the deficit in half. The first period ended with Richardson on top 2-1. After Richardson deferred, Walraven opted down and scored a quick reversal to take the lead. Richardson scored an escape with one minute remaining in the second to knot the score, once again. The two were even at 3-3 through two periods. Richardson chose down to start the third and quickly escaped for the one point lead. With one minute remaining, Richardson scored a takedown to push his lead to 6-3. As the clock wound down, Walraven added an escape, but was unable to find the allusive takedown and Richardson won by 6-4 decision.
149 Third-Place – #5 Brandon Richardson (WYO) decision #3 Dustin Walraven, 6-4
Joe Brewster faced a familiar opponent in the third-place match in Dakota Friesth (WYO). Friesth won by 8-4 decision versus Brewster in the opening match. It was another quiet match, but Friesth jumped out to an early lead with a takedown and escape to lead 3-0 midway through the second. Brewster found the scoreboard with a second-period escape, but trailed 3-1 after two. In the third period, Brewster started down and scored a quick escape to cut the lead down to one point. A stalling point pushed the lead back to two and Friesth held on for a 4-2 decision.
165 Third-Place – #5 Dakota Friesth (WYO decision #4 Joe Brewster, 4-2
Because the 125-pound weight class is a four-bid weight class and Aaron Pickrel did not wrestle Jade Rauser (UVU) in earlier rounds, Pickrel and Rauser will wrestler for a “true fourth place” and a trip to the NCAA Championships. Rauser finished fourth after Tyler Cox pinned him in the third-place match.
Aaron Pickrel started and finished the day on the mat, in the “true fourth” match versus Jade Rauser (UVU). Rauser was on the board first with a takedown two minutes into the first period and the score held. Pickrel started the second period on the bottom and scored an escape midway through the second. In the third period, Pickrel started on top and rode the riding time out of consideration, but was unable to score another point. Rauser won by 3-1 decision.
125 Fourth-Place – #1 Jade Rauser (UVU) decision #5 Aaron Pickrel, 3-1
In the day’s opening match, Aaron Pickrel wrestled Trent Sprenkle (NDSU). Pickrel took an early lead with a first-minute takedown. Sprenkle pulled one point closer with a second-minute escape and gained the advantage with a takedown. Pickrel was near an escape on multiple occasions, but Sprekle held on and rode out the first period with a 3-2 lead. Pickrel started the second period on top and Sprenkle escaped quickly for a 4-2 lead. After another takedown for Sprenkle, he once again rode out the period with a 6-2 lead. The two started neutral in the third period and Sprenkle added a quick takedown to his point total and three back points late in the match (plus riding time advantage) for a 12-2 major decision.
Ben Gillette wrestled next versus Carter McElhany (AF) in the 141-pound bracket. After two stagnant minutes, McElhany scored a first-period takedown to lead 2-0 after one. Gillette scored an escape to open the second, the only point scored in the period. McElhany added a reversal in the opening moments of the third for a three-point lead. Gillette scored another escape, but it was not enough as McElhany won by 4-2 decision.
The third Jackrabbit on the mat was Joe Brewster versus Dakota Friesth (WYO). After two minutes and 30 seconds of scoreless wrestling, Friesth scored a takedown and Brewster scored an escape. Friesth added a quick escape and takedown in the second for a 5-1 lead, but Brewster escaped for another point to end the period. In the third, Brewster escaped quickly for his third point, but Friesth added his third takedown of the match to extend his lead and won by 8-4 decision.
Shea Nolan faced Derek Thomas (UVU) in his opener, but fell behind 10-0 after a takedown and eight near fall points for Thomas. An early escape for Thomas was the only second-period point, who added a third-period takedown for a 13-0 lead. Nolan scored an escape late, but Thomas won by 14-1 major decision.
While Nolan was wrestling, Troy Morisette lined up versus Clayton Gable (AF). The two wrestled two scoreless periods to open the match. In the third, Gable was the wrestler to get on the board with a takedown and it held up for a 3-0 decision with more than three minutes of riding time.
The two matches to replace Nolan and Morisette on the mat both had SDSU wrestlers.
J.J. Everard faced Leland Pfeifer (WYO) in the 285-pound weight class. The two were scoreless through the first and second periods. Pfeifer held a two-minute advantage in riding time entering the third and added a quick escape in the third. A late takedown put Pfeifer in control of the match, an eventual 4-0 decision.
Joe Skow wrestled Josh Mohr (AF) at 197 and Mohr built an early lead with three takedowns. Skow scored a first-period escape and Mohr added an escape of his own to start the second. The scoring slowed on both sides from that point on, as Mohr won by 11-3 major decision.
In the first semifinal of the day for SDSU, Brance Simms faced Josh Rodriguez (NDSU). Rodriguez scored first with a takedown midway through the first period. Simms quickly escaped to cut the deficit in half to end the period. In the second, Simms started on top and stayed on top for two minutes, but Rodriguez escaped as the period wound down for a 3-1 lead after two. After a struggle through the first minute of the third, Rodriguez scored a takedown and near fall points for an 8-2 decision.
Dustin Walraven was the second SDSU wrestler in the semifinals at 149 versus Josh Wilson (UVU). Wilson was aggressive early and scored a takedown with 40 seconds of riding time. Walraven escaped midway through the first to cut the deficit in half. Wilson added another takedown shortly thereafter, and once again Walraven escaped. The first period ended with Wilson leading 4-2. Walraven started the second on top and shifted the riding time in his favor, but allowed a late reversal. An escape at the end of the period cut Wilson’s lead to 6-3. Walraven scored a quick escape in the third, but needed a takedown to stay alive. He was unable to find the allusive takedown, as Wilson won by 6-4 decision.
Next on the mat was Cody Pack versus Andy McCulley (WYO). McCulley scored a takedown one minute into the first period, followed closely by a Pack escape. The period ended with McCulley leading 2-1. Pack started the second on the bottom and was down for the majority of the period. Less than 30 seconds remained, but Pack scored a reversal and nearly pinned his opponent, but the clock ran out. The move put Pack on top 3-2, but behind in riding time entering the third period. McCulley scored a quick escape to even the score, forcing Pack to score a takedown due to riding time. And that is exactly what Pack did. Pack used an athletic move to score the takedown and eliminate the riding time advantage with a 5-3 lead. A late escape for McCulley made the final seconds even more exciting, but Pack held him off for a 5-4 decision.
In the wrestleback semifinals, both Aaron Pickrel and Brance Simms wrestled Wyoming foes as the first matches of the schedule portion.
Pickrel faced Tyler Cox at 125 in a match with NCAA Championships implications. Cox scored a first-period takedown and narrowly escaped a defensive pin. Pickrel scored an escape 19 seconds later and the period ended with Cox leading 2-1. In the second, Pickrel rolled his opponent and scored three near fall points in a near pin. Pickrel rode out the remainder of the period and led 4-2 after two. In the third, Pickrel scored an early escape, but Cox scored a quick takedown. After a Pickrel escape, Cox scored a late takedown to tie the match at 6-6 at the end of two. Cox won in the sudden victory with a takedown for an 8-6 decision.
Simms lined up versus Kasey Garnhart to advance to the third-place match at 133. The two wrestled a scoreless first period. Simms started the second on top, but allowed an escape and a takedown midway through the second. Simms matched Garnhart’s effort with a takedown to tie the score 3-3 after two. Simms scored an escape to start the third, but Garnhart scored a late takedown to take a 5-4 lead. The lead held for a 5-4 decision.
In the 141-pound wrestleback, Ben Gillette faced Mark Erickson (NDSU). Erickson built a big first-period lead with a takedown and multiple near fall points. In the second period, Erickson pushed the lead 15-0 for the tech fall.
Dustin Walraven faced Joseph Garner (NDSU) at 149 and wrestled a scoreless first period. Garner scored a second-period escape, the only point in the period. Walraven started the third on the bottom and quickly escaped to even the score. With one minute remaining in the match, Walraven scored a takedown for a 3-1 lead. Walraven rode out the remaining time for the 3-1 decision.
Joe Brewster was up next versus Jesse Stafford (AF) at 165. Similar to his first match, Brewster and Stafford were scoreless through one period. Stafford rode out the entire second period for two minutes of riding time, but Brewster was awarded a stalling point midway through the period for a 1-0 lead after two. In the third period, Stafford scored a quick escape, but found himself on his back after a quick move by Brewster. In an instant, the match was over with a Brewster pin in 6:08.
During Brewster’s match, Troy Morisette took the mat next to him versus Kurtis Julson (NDSU) in a 174-pound match. Morisette scored a first-period takedown, followed by a Julson escape for a 2-1 lead after one. The second period started with a reversal for Julson and an escape for Morisette to even the score at 3-3. The third started with a Morisette escape for a 4-3 lead. Julson scored a takedown to retake the lead with less than one minute remaining and made it stick with a 5-4 decision.
During Morisette’s match, Shea Nolan took the mat once occupied by Brewster versus Devin Hightower (AF). The 184-pound match started slow, but Hightower scored a late takedown and two near fall points. The first period ended at 4-0, but Hightower jumped back on it in the second with six quick near fall points. Hightower added three more before the end of the second for a 13-0 lead. The match ended midway through the third with two more near fall points for a 15-0 tech fall.
In the 197-pound wrestleback semifinal, Joe Skow wrestled David Prieto (UVU). The two wrestled a scoreless first period. Prieto rode out the entire second period without either wrestler scoring a point. Skow attempted the same strategy, but Prieto escaped late in the period, added a takedown and finished with riding time advantage for a 4-0 decision.
J.J. Everard faced Bentley Alsup (AF) in the 285 wrestleback semifinal. Alsup scored a first-period takedown, followed by an Everard escape. Alsup scored another takedown late in the first and added three near fall points with 30 seconds remaining and two more as the period expired for a 9-1 lead. Alsup scored two escapes in the third, one after an Everard takedown. Alsup scored a takedown and two three-point near falls for a 19-3 tech fall.
Complete SDSU wrestler-by-wrestler results are listed below as completed.
For more information on the West Regional, including Live Stats via TrackWrestling.com visit Tournament Central via the University of Wyoming Official Athletics Site.
The breakdown of the 16 automatic bids per weight class for the West Regional/WWC Championships, are as follows: 125 pounds (4), 133 (1), 141 (1), 149 (3), 157 (2), 165 (1), 174 (1), 184 (1), 197 (1) and 285 (1).
Each qualifying tournament was awarded spots per weight class based on current year data. Each wrestler was measured on the following: Division I winning percentage at the weight class; rating percentage index (RPI); and coaches’ ranking.
For each wrestler who reached the threshold in at least two of the three categories, his qualifying tournament was awarded a qualifying spot in that weight class. Each qualifying tournament, with automatic qualifying status, was awarded a minimum of one wrestler per weight class, which will go to the tournament champion, even if they did not have any wrestlers reach at least two of the three thresholds. NCAA tournament spots for each qualifying event will be awarded at the tournament based solely on place-finish.
After all of the qualifying events have concluded, the NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee will meet in person to select the remaining 40 at-large qualifiers, which will be announced on March 13. All weight classes will consist of 33 wrestlers. The at-large selections will be made based on the following criteria: head-to-head competition; qualifying event placement; quality wins; results against common opponents; winning percentage; RPI; coaches’ ranking and the number of matches contested at that weight class.
Wyoming – 79.0
North Dakota State – 76.0
Utah Valley – 70.0
Air Force – 63.5
South Dakota State – 16.5
Complete SDSU wrestler-by-wrestler results
125 – #4 Trent Sprenkle (NDSU) major decision #5 Aaron Pickrel, 12-2
Wrestleback – #2 Tyler Cox (WYO) sudden victory 1 #5 Aaron Pickrel, 8-6 (SV1)
Fourth-Place – #1 Jade Rauser (UVU) decision #5 Aaron Pickrel, 3-1
133 – #3 Brance Simms bye
Semifinal – #2 Josh Rodriguez (NDSU) decision #3 Brance Simms, 8-2
Wrestleback – #5 Kasey Garnhart (WYO) decision #3 Brance Simms, 5-4
141 – #4 Carter McElhany (AF) decision #5 Ben Gillette, 4-2
Wrestleback – #2 Mark Erickson (NDSU) tech fall #5 Ben Gillette, 15-0
149 – #3 Dustin Walraven bye
Semifinal – #2 Josh Wilson (UVU) decision #3 Dustin Walraven, 6-4
Wrestleback – #3 Dustin Walraven decision Joseph Garner (NDSU), 3-1
Third-Place – #5 Brandon Richardson (WYO) decision #3 Dustin Walraven, 6-4
157 – #3 Cody Pack bye
157 – #3 Cody Pack decision #2 Andy McCulley (WYO), 5-4
Championship – #1 Josh Kreimier (AF) tech fall #3 Cody Pack, 17-2
Note: #3 Pack secured automatic qualifier with second-place finish at 157 pounds
165 – #5 Dakota Friesth (WYO) decision #4 Joe Brewster, 8-4
Wrestleback – #4 Joe Brewster pin #3 Jesse Stafford (AF), 6:08
Third-Place – #5 Dakota Friesth (WYO) decision #4 Joe Brewster, 4-2
174 – #4 Clayton Gable (AF) decision #5 Troy Morisette, 3-0
Wrestleback – #2 Kurtis Julson (NDSU) decision #5 Troy Morisette, 5-4
184 – #5 Derek Thomas (UVU) major decision #4 Shea Nolan, 14-1
Wrestleback – #2 Devin Hightower (AF) tech fall #4 Shea Nolan, 15-0
197 – #4 Josh Mohr (AF) major decision #5 Joe Skow, 11-3
Wrestleback – #3 David Prieto (UVU) decision #5 Joe Skow, 4-0
285 – #5 Leland Pfeifer (WYO) decision #4 J.J. Everard, 4-0
Wrestleback – #3 Bentley Alsup (AF) tech fall #4 J.J. Everard, 19-3
Note: numbers denote West Regional seeds