South Dakota State (1-3, 0-0) will wrestle in the UNI Open on Saturday, hosted by the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Saturday’s open will be the second time SDSU will wrestle in the state of Iowa already this season, as the Jacks wrestled at the Cyclone Open on Nov. 16. The Jacks will make a return trip to Cedar Falls to wrestle No. 10 Northern Iowa on Feb. 1 as a part of a triangular with UNI and Ohio.
Last Time Out: SDSU and Augustana wrestled in the Sanford Pentagon on Sunday in front of 1,182 fans, as the Jacks found the win column for the first time, 17-15. The Jacks and Vikings each won five matches, but a pair of major decisions at 157 and 165 by SDSU’s Cody Pack and Joe Brewster proved to be the difference. The matchup was the first-ever wrestling event held in the Pentagon and was the first dual between the old North Central Conference foes since 2004.
Scouting the Open: The UNI Open will pose great competition across the board. Some of the region’s top programs will be competing, including Campbell, Michigan State and Missouri, along with host, Northern Iowa.
History Lesson: SDSU is returning to the UNI Open after a one-year hiatus from the tournament. Aaron Pickrel was the 125-pound champion the last time the Jacks competed in the event in 2011. In all, five Jackrabbits placed, including Pickrel, Nick Flynn (2nd), Tony Lisek (3rd) Austin Lindsay (4th) and Dylan Penka (6th).
Potential Rabbits: With it being finals week, some Rabbits will stay in Brookings to fulfill academic obligations. SDSU plans to send Brance Simms (133), Ben Gillette (133), Eric Orozco (141), Joe Brewster (165), Brady Ayers (174), John Nething II (174), Austin Lindsay (174), Shea Nolan (184), Ben Schwery (184), Trey Hable (197) and J.J. Everard (285). The majority of SDSU’s highly-touted freshmen will also be making the trip and competing unattached.
Follow the Action: Fans who are not able to make the trip to Cedar Falls can follow along with live results through www.trackwrestling.com. Be sure to follow @SDSUwrestling on Twitter for all of the Jackrabbit happenings at the UNI Open.
Jacks’ Facts: Redshirt freshman Alex Kocer leads the Jackrabbits with 14 wins. Returning NCAA qualifier Cody Pack sits at 12-5 on the year and his (.750) winning percentage is a team-high. Pack also has a team-best 3-1 (.750) dual record. Redshirt freshman Trey Hable’s pin in 0:34 at the Cyclone Open stands as the quickest fall on the year. Collectively, the 149-pounders have been the Jacks’ most successful weight class, boasting 60 wins on the year, to go along with 18 falls and 14 major decisions.
Looking Ahead: SDSU will have some time off for the holidays before returning to the mat. The Jacks will return to competition at the highly-competitive Southern Scuffle on Jan. 1/2. The Scuffle, hosted by the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, is often referred to as one of the toughest tournaments in the country. It will serve as a homecoming for head coach Chris Bono and assistant Israel Silva, as Bono coached at UTC from 2005-09 and Silva wrestled his final two years collegiately for the Mocs.
Socially Supreme: South Dakota State was named the Top Newcomer in the Best of Brand Annual Achievement Awards, as presented by the National Wrestling Coaches Association, in coordination with Elite Level Sport Marketing. Jackrabbit wrestling continues to launch itself into the national spotlight through expanded use of its social media platforms and the #GetJacked mantra. To go along with its popular “Jacked Up Monday” videos, SDSU has added “Jackrabbit Wrestling: All Access” as a second weekly video. These videos are released on Thursdays and gives fans a behind-the-scenes look at the Jacks away from the mat. SDSU recently moved into the No. 1 in the most-recent social media Power Rankings.
Program History: 2013-14 marks the 65th season of Jackrabbit wrestling. SDSU owns a 503-347-22 (.589) program record. Chris Bono is the 12th coach in Jackrabbit history and owns a 45-32 career (.584). SDSU has won six conference championships, with the last coming in 1996-97.