Jackrabbits open home dual season Saturday

The South Dakota State University wrestling team opens its home dual season Saturday afternoon, hosting sixth-ranked Virginia Tech.

Action begins at 4:30 p.m. at Frost Arena and will follow the SDSU women’s basketball team’s game against Notre Dame. The dual will be broadcast live regionally on Midco Sports Network, with video streaming available through FloWrestling.org.

SDSU JackrabbitsThe Jackrabbits enter the matchup with a 1-2 record in duals so far this season. SDSU wrestled three times at the Gopher Duals on Nov. 7, defeating Grand Canyon (Ariz.), while falling to Virginia and host Minnesota.

Virginia Tech, meanwhile, is 1-1 in duals after downing Iowa State in its season opener before falling to Penn State.

As many as 11 nationally ranked wrestlers could compete in Saturday’s dual, which will mark the first-ever meeting between SDSU and Virginia Tech on the mat. The Hokies feature a ranked wrestler in nine of 10 weight classes, while the Jackrabbits feature two ranked wrestlers in 157-pounder Cody Pack and 197-pounder Nate Rotert.

NATIONAL MENTION: The South Dakota State University wrestling team reached a milestone in its Division I pursuits as the Jackrabbits received mention in the USA Today/ NWCA Division I Coaches Poll for the first time on Nov. 17.

The Jackrabbits, who were among six teams to receive votes in the poll but not crack the top 25, will have several opportunities to impress the voting panel in the coming weeks as they meet three teams ranked in the top six in dual competition.

After Saturday’s dual with Virginia Tech, SDSU also is scheduled to host fourth-ranked Oklahoma State on Nov. 27 before traveling Dec. 4 to second-ranked Iowa. Penn State is the top team in this week’s rankings. The Jackrabbits’ two dual losses this season have been to No. 19 Minnesota and No. 20 Virginia.

Individually, two Jackrabbits are ranked in three different national polls. Three-time national qualifier Cody Pack is ranked seventh at 157 pounds by WIN Magazine, eighth by Intermat and 10th by FloWrestling. Sophomore 197-pounder Nate Rotert stands ninth in the FloWrestling rankings, 12th in the Intermat poll and 14th in the WIN Magazine ratings.

BIG 12 TICKETS: Tickets for The 2016 Big 12 Wrestling Championship go on sale Monday (Nov. 23) at 10 a.m. CT. This season’s championship, which will take place March 5-6 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, marks the first neutral-site conference championship for the sport.

Tickets can be purchased at Big12Sports.com/buytickets, SprintCenter.com; charged by phone at 888-929-7849 and Price Chopper Box Office at Sprint Center.

Tickets start at $40, with premium seating priced at $60 and VIP seats available for $100. The two-day event will feature four sessions of action, two on Saturday and two on Sunday. Each ticket purchased gains access to all four sessions. Special group rates are available for groups of 10 or more. For information on group tickets, call 816-949-7175, or email grouptickets@sprintcenter.com. Subscribers to the ‘Sprint Center Connection’ newsletter will receive a special presale scheduled for Friday, Nov. 20.

One hundred student-athletes will compete across 10 weight classes for a chance to be a Big 12 Champion and for automatic berths into the NCAA National Championship tournament. Big 12 programs have a rich history of wrestling success garnering 49 NCAA team titles and crowning 277 individual national champions.

South Dakota State will be competing at the Big 12 Wrestling Championship for the first time. SDSU was accepted as an affiliate member in July.

COACH BONO: Chris Bono has engineered a successful rebuilding process during his tenure as head coach of the South Dakota State University wrestling program.

Now in his fourth season, Bono has helped mentor Jackrabbit wrestlers to qualify for the NCAA Championships seven times and has posted a 23-30 dual record.

During the 2014-15 season, the Jackrabbits posted their first winning dual record in nine seasons and three SDSU wrestlers — Cody Pack, Nate Rotert and J.J. Everard — qualified for the NCAA Championships. Pack reached the national tournament for the third consecutive year at 157 pounds and was one win away from achieving All-America status.

SDSU also had three national qualifiers during the 2013-14 season as Pack, Joe Brewster and Alex Kocer all qualified out of the NCAA West Regional/Western Wrestling Conference Championships.

While leading the Jackrabbits, Bono was also tabbed as coach for the U.S. Men’s Freestyle team at the 2013 Pan American Championships. In the world event, Coach Bono led Team USA to a 13-point victory.

Overall, Bono has a 62-47 dual record in six-plus seasons as a collegiate head coach. He previously served three seasons at Chattanooga (Tenn.), where he led the Mocs to three Southern Conference titles and coached two All-Americans and 19 NCAA qualifiers from 2006-09.

Bono also served nine seasons as an assistant coach at Iowa State after a standout career for the Cyclones. He lettered from 1994-97, finishing his career with 130 victories. A four-time NCAA qualifier, Bono won a national championship at 150 pounds as a junior, adding a runner-up finish as a senior and fifth-place showing as a sophomore.

THE ROSTER: The 2015-16 SDSU wrestling roster features 32 student-athletes from nine different states plus one Canadian province. Of the 32 wrestlers, 10 are from South Dakota, seven are from Minnesota and five are from Iowa. California is represented by three wrestlers, while two hail from Illinois. Kansas, Nebraska, New Jersey and Washington each have one wrestler. In addition, one wrestler hails from the Canadian province of British Columbia.

By class, three are seniors, four are juniors, seven are sophomores, four are redshirt freshmen  and 14 are true freshmen.

A LOOK AHEAD: The Jackrabbits return to dual competition on Friday, Nov. 27, hosting fourth-ranked Oklahoma State. Start time is 5 p.m. at Frost Arena.

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