SDSU takes on top-ranked Cowboys

The South Dakota State University wrestling team will carry a seven-match winning streak into a matchup Sunday afternoon against top-ranked Oklahoma State.

Action begins at 2 p.m. at Gallagher-Iba Arena on the Oklahoma State campus in Stillwater. Video streaming of the dual will be available through the FloWrestling.org subscription service.

SDSU, ranked 19th in this week’s National Wrestling Coaches Association/USA Today poll, has posted an 8-2 overall dual record so far this season, including a 4-0 mark against Big 12 Conference opponents. The Jackrabbits’ 19th-place ranking is their highest ever in the NWCA/USA?Today poll.

Oklahoma State, meanwhile, solidified its hold on the top spot in the national rankings with a 24-11 victory over third-ranked Iowa on Jan. 15. The Cowboys enter a home dual Friday against West Virginia with a 6-0 overall dual record, including 1-0 in the Big 12. Each of Oklahoma State’s 10 regular starters are ranked in the top 11 of their respective weight classes by Intermat, including top-ranked Dean Heil at 141 pounds.

sdsulogo Sunday’s dual is expected to feature four matchups between nationally ranked wrestlers, including a pair of top-10 matchups. At 133 pounds, the Jackrabbits’ Seth Gross, ranked seventh by Intermat, is likely to square off against second-ranked Kaid Brock. The 197-pound matchup would feature ninth-ranked Nate Rotert of SDSU against OSU’s fourth-ranked Preston Weigel.

Other bouts with ranked wrestlers from each squad would be at 149 pounds, where 20th-ranked Alex Kocer of SDSU would meet second-ranked Anthony Collica, and at 174 pounds, where the Jackrabbits’ 20th-ranked David Kocer is poised to wrestle fifth-ranked Kyle Crutchmer.

THE SERIES: Sunday’s dual will mark the third meeting between South Dakota State and Oklahoma State in wrestling, and the first to be contested on the Cowboys’ home mat.

OSU won the initial meeting in the series, 25-9, during the 2014-15 season in a dual wrestled at Miami, Oklahoma. The Cowboys also claimed the first meeting between the two programs as Big 12 opponents, defeating SDSU by a 20-15 margin at Frost Arena on Nov. 27, 2015.

In last season’s dual, SDSU’s three ranked wrestlers each won by decision. Brance Simms, ranked 16th at 133 pounds, recorded a 7-5, sudden-victory decision over Gary Wayne Harding to put the Jackrabbits on the board. Cody Pack (seventh at 157 pounds) and Nate Rotert (14th at 197 pounds) recorded respective 11-5 and 15-10 decisions.

The final Jackrabbit victory in the dual came in the heavyweight division, where Alex Macki was awarded the win after fourth-ranked Austin Marsden was disqualified for misconduct.

No. 4 Oklahoma State 20, South Dakota State 15 (Nov. 27, 2015)
125: Eddie Klimara (OSU) def. Kahlen Morris (SDSU), by tech. fall (20-2)
133: #16 Brance Simms (SDSU) dec. Gary Wayne Harding (OSU), 7-5 (SV-1)
141: #1 Dean Heil (OSU) dec. Seth Gross (SDSU), 5-3
149: #8 Anthony Collica (OSU) dec. Alex Kocer (SDSU), 5-3
157: #7 Cody Pack (SDSU) dec. Ryan Blees (OSU), 11-5
165: #1 Alex Dieringer (OSU) dec. Luke Zilverberg (SDSU), 6-1
174: #3 Kyle Crutchmer (OSU) dec. David Kocer (SDSU), 7-2
184: Nolan Boyd (OSU) major dec. Brady Ayers (SDSU), 11-2
197: #14 Nate Rotert (SDSU) dec. Jordan Rogers (OSU), 15-10 [Note: Rogers ranked No. 15 at 184 pounds]
285: Alex Macki (SDSU) def. #4 Austin Marsden (OSU) by DQ
Note: Marsden disqualified for misconduct; OSU also deducted one team point

RABBITS RANKED: South Dakota State is well represented both individually and as a team in rankings conducted by a number of wrestling-related media outlets.

In the individual rankings, six different Jackrabbit wrestlers appear in at least one Division I poll. Returning NCAA qualifier Seth Gross is the highest-ranked Jackrabbit wrestler with a fourth-place ranking in the 133-pound division by Trackwrestling. Gross, a national qualifier at 141 pounds last season, also is ranked sixth by WIN Magazine and seventh by both Intermat and FloWrestling.

Two-time NCAA qualifier Nate Rotert dropped in the rankings following his loss in the 197-pound finals at the Midlands Championships. A junior from Spearfish, Rotert is ranked seventh by WIN Magazine, eighth by Intermat and ninth by both FloWrestling and Trackwrestling. Rotert’s fourth-place showing in the Intermat rankings earlier this season marked the highest individual ranking for a Jackrabbit wrestler in the Division I era.

At 174 pounds, junior David Kocer cracked the rankings after a strong opening weekend in which he knocked off two ranked opponents. The Wagner native and returning national qualifier is ranked 15th by FloWrestling, 16th by WIN?Magazine, 20th by Intermat and 21st by Trackwrestling. His older brother, Alex, also moved up in the 149-pound rankings this week to 18th by WIN Magazine, 20th by both FloWrestling and Intermat, and 22nd by Trackwrestling.

Junior 157-pounder Colin Holler, who is currently out of the lineup due to injury, stands 13th in the latest WIN Magazine rankings and 21st by Trackwrestling.

New to the rankings this week is junior 165-pounder Luke Zilverberg. The Belle Plaine, Minnesota, native stands 16th in the FloWrestling ranking and 18th by WIN Magazine.

After being the top team to receive votes in the USA Today/National Wrestling Coaches Association preseason poll, SDSU held the No. 20 spot in the team rankings for eight weeks until moving up one spot to 19th on Jan. 17. The Jackrabbits first cracked the rankings Nov. 8 following their season-opening dual victory over Iowa State.

SDSU also is ranked 14th in the team dual rankings by WIN Magazine and stands 17th in the team dual rankings by Intermat, 18th by Trackwrestling and 19th by FloWrestling.

HOT STREAK: With an 8-2 record to start the 2016-17 season, the Jackrabbit wrestling team has continued an impressive run of success in dual meets. Dating back to December 6, 2015, when it won all three duals at the South Dakota Showcase in Sioux Falls, SDSU has won 21 of its last 24 duals, with all three losses against nationally ranked opponents.

The victories at the 2015 South Dakota Showcase began a school-record streak of 12 consecutive dual victories, which was eventually snapped on Feb. 14, 2016, with a 19-13 loss at Oklahoma. SDSU later closed the 2015-16 dual season with a 23-14 victory against North Dakota State.

SDSU also is 10-2 in duals against Big 12 Conference opponents since joining the league as an affiliate member at the start of the 2015-16 season. The Jackrabbits’ two losses have been to Oklahoma State and Oklahoma.

GROSS IN DOMINANT FORM: Jackrabbit 133-pounder Seth Gross leads the team with an 18-1 record after recording a pair of pins in dual action last weekend against Wyoming and Air Force. Gross has pinned each of his four opponents in dual competition since the start of the calendar year.

Gross’s lone loss of the season was a 2-0 overtime decision to then-third-ranked Eric Montoya of Nebraska in the semifinals of the Ken Kraft Midlands Championships on Dec. 30. Gross later defeated Iowa State’s Earl Hall by major decision to claim third place at the Midlands.

A sophomore from Apple Valley, Minnesota, Gross has had only two matches end in a decision so far this season. He has four wins by major decision, six by technical fall and seven by fall.

An NCAA qualifier at 141 pounds last season, Gross has a 44-15 career record with the Jackrabbits. He began his transition to the lower weight class by earning a spot on Team USA at the UWW Junior World Championships this past summer.

THE BROTHERS KOCER: Brothers and Wagner natives Alex and David Kocer have taken over the top two spots among active Jackrabbit wrestlers in career victories.

A two-time NCAA qualifier (2014, 2016), Alex Kocer has compiled an 83-37 overall record in his four seasons in a Jackrabbit singlet. A senior, he has turned in a 17-4 overall record at 149 pounds so this season, after a 24-12 mark during the 2015-16 campaign.

David Kocer has held down the starting spot at 174 pounds each of his three seasons at SDSU and has combined to go 69-38 during his Jackrabbit career. He led the Jackrabbits in victories last season and made his first NCAA appearance, finishing with a 30-13 record.

WRESTLERS OF THE WEEK: South Dakota State’s Luke Zilverberg was honored Jan. 9 as Co-Big 12 Conference Wrestler of the Week after recording a pair of overtime victories in dual action this past weekend.

A junior 165-pounder from Belle Plaine, Minnesota, Zilverberg helped the 20th-ranked Jackrabbits to convincing home victories over Boise State (37-3) and Northern Colorado

(34-6), improving his individual season record to 13-4 overall and 6-1 in duals.

After giving up a takedown late in regulation in his match against Boise State’s Demetrius Romero that forced overtime, Zilverberg came up with a takedown of his own midway through the extra session to pull out the 5-3 win on Jan. 6.

Against Northern Colorado’s Keilan Torres – ranked 14th by FloWrestling – on Jan. 8, Zilverberg trailed 3-1 in the waning seconds of regulation, but came up with a reversal to send the match to overtime. He then came away with his second 5-3 victory of the weekend with a takedown of Torres 14 seconds into the sudden-victory period.

Zilverberg is the second Jackrabbit to be honored as Big 12 Conference Wrestler of the Week this season, joining Nov. 7 honoree David Kocer.

A junior from Wagner and a returning NCAA qualifier, Kocer put together a 4-1 record over two events, including defeating two ranked opponents, during the opening weekend of the season. He recorded a takedown with two seconds remaining in his Nov. 4 dual match against seventh-ranked Lelund Weatherspoon of Iowa State to pull out a 3-1 victory and help spark the Jackrabbits to a 27-9 team win.

At the Warren Williamson/Daktronics Open on Nov. 6, Kocer turned in a runner-up finish. He recorded technical falls in his first two matches before defeating 14th-ranked Micah Barnes of Nebraska by a 3-1 decision in the semifinals. Kocer fell to 15th-ranked Zahid Valencia of Arizona State in the finals.

A LOOK AHEAD: The Jackrabbits will fall move back into non-conference action with two matches in Edwardsville, Illinois on Jan. 28. SDSU is slated to wrestle host SIUE at 2:30 p.m., followed by a 4 p.m. dual against Gardner-Webb.