Pack advances to NCAA quarterfinals; four Jackrabbits remain

NEW YORK — South Dakota State University 157-pounder Cody Pack advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships with a pair of victories Thursday at Madison Square Garden.

In all, four of the school-record five Jackrabbit wrestlers who qualified for the national tournament remain in contention after the first day of competition.

In his opening-round match, the seventh-seeded Pack turned in a dominant performance over Neal Richards of Virginia Military Institute, recording a 9-1 major decision in which he racked up a riding-time advantage of more than four minutes.

SDSU JackrabbitsA senior from Quincy, California, and a four-time national qualifier, Pack moved on to the quarterfinals for the first time in his career by defeating 10th-seeded John Boyle of American University, 2-1, in the first overtime tie-breaker. Pack rode out the first 30-second segment, then scored an escape from the down position on the back half of the tie-breaker.

It was Pack’s second win over Boyle this season as he also defeated Boyle, 6-2, at the Midlands Championships in December. Pack, 29-3 overall, will meet 15th-seeded Chad Walsh of Rider (N.J.) in Friday morning’s quarterfinals.

Seth Gross also wrestled in the round of 16 Thursday night, dropping a 15-2 major decision to fourth-seeded Anthony Ashnault of Rutgers (N.J.) at 141 pounds. A redshirt freshman from Apple Valley, Minnesota, Gross knocked off 13th-seeded Steve Bleise of Northern Illinois, 6-3, in their opening-round matchup.

Gross, 24-13 overall, will wrestle Danny Sabatello of Purdue in the consolation bracket Friday morning.

Also advancing to the second day of competition were 174-pounder David Kocer and Nate Rotert at 197 pounds. Kocer won a pair of consolation matches with strong efforts in the final period, first notching a 4-3 decision over Richard Roberts on Wisconsin, followed by a 10-7 win over Te’Shan Campbell of Pittsburgh. In the match against Campbell, Rotert trailed 7-4 before recording a takedown and four-point near-fall in the final 25 seconds to move on to competition Friday, where he will face Casey Kent of Pennsylvania. The Wagner native improved to 30-12 on the season.

Rotert, seeded 15th at 197 pounds, lost to Chattanooga’s Scottie Boykin for the second year in a row at nationals, dropping a 7-4 decision in the opening round. He came back to notch an 11-3 major decision over Hayden Hrymack of Rutgers during the evening session. Rotert will carry a 27-10 record into his consolation match against 16th-seeded Kyle Conel of Kent State (Ohio) Friday morning.

The lone Jackrabbit wrestler to be eliminated Thursday was 149-pounder Alex Kocer, who opened the day by dropping a 7-1 decision to sixth-seeded Jason Tsirtsis of Northwestern (Ill.). The junior from Wagner later fell 9-7 to Oregon State’s Joey Delgado to finish his season with a 24-12 record.

Competition resumes at 11 a.m. Eastern Time (10 a.m. Central) on Friday. Coverage of all eight mats will take place on ESPN3.com.

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