TULSA, Okla. – Seth Gross became South Dakota State’s first Big 12 Conference individual champion and was named the Most Outstanding Performer of the Big 12 Conference Wrestling Championship Sunday at BOK Center.
Four other Jackrabbits earned automatic berths in the upcoming NCAA Championships on the final day of competition at the two-day tournament. SDSU’s five total NCAA qualifiers matches a program best at the Division I level, which was first set last season.
A sophomore from Apple Valley, Minnesota, the top-seeded Gross defeated second-seeded Kaid Brock of Oklahoma State by a 9-7 decision in the 133-pound final. Brock scored the first takedown of the match and led 6-5 at the end of the first period. Gross countered with an escape and takedown in the second period to lead 8-7, then rode out the entire third period to pick up the final point of the match with a riding-time advantage of nearly three minutes.
With the win, Gross improved to 30-1 on the season. Brock dropped to 25-2, with both of his losses this season coming at the hands of Gross on Oklahoma soil.
The Jackrabbits began Sunday with six other wrestlers in the placing matches. Junior David Kocer and redshirt freshman Martin Mueller led SDSU in the morning session Sunday by posting third-place finishes. Kocer, who earned his second consecutive trip to the NCAA Championships, earned a 3-2 decision over Kyle Pope of Wyoming, then defeated Iowa State’s Lelund Weatherspoon for the second time this season with an 8-5 decision in the third-place match. A junior from Wagner, Kocer entered the tournament as the top seed at 174 pounds and went 3-1 in the tournament to run his season record to 23-8 overall.
Mueller recorded takedowns late in both of his matches Sunday morning to earn third place at 184 pounds. The Rapid City native and No. 3 seed knocked off Tyler McNutt of North Dakota State, 5-4, then defeated Parker VonEgidy of West Virginia for the second time in the tournament, 3-1, with a takedown with 10 seconds remaining in regulation to take third. The win over McNutt avenged a loss two weeks ago in the teams’ season-ending dual.
With only two spots for nationals allocated to the Big 12 Conference at 184 pounds, Mueller will be under consideration for an at-large berth based on his RPI and 16-13 overall record.
Three other Jackrabbits wrestled for third place, but had to settle for fourth-place finishes. At 149 pounds, Alex Kocer survived a late rally by Utah Valley’s Grant Lamont to turn in a 13-11 overtime decision in his first match of the day. In the third-place match, Kocer got caught in a headlock by Wyoming’s Cole Mendenhall and was pinned in the first period, sending him to a true-fourth match against Jerry McGinty of Air Force.
A senior from Wagner, Kocer officially punched his ticket to the NCAA Championships for a third time with a 12-1 major decision in which he outscored McGinty, 10-1, in the final period.
Also earning fourth-place finishes were 165-pounder Luke Zilverberg and Nate Rotert at 197 pounds. Zilverberg began the day with a hard-fought 4-3 decision over third-seeded Branson Ashworth to lock up his first NCAA bid. He later was pinned by Northern Colorado’s Keilan Torres in the third-place bout.
Rotert, seeded second at 197 pounds, opened the morning session with a 20-4 technical fall victory over Marcus Harrington of Iowa State. Rotert was never able to mount any sort of offensive attack against Oklahoma’s Brad Johnson in the third-place match and dropped a 4-0 decision. Rotert, however, earned his third consecutive trip to the NCAA Championships with his fourth-place effort.
Also wrestling in the Sunday morning session was senior 125-pounder Ben Gillette, who wrapped up his Jackrabbit career with a sixth-place finish. The Redfield native dropped an 8-5 decision to Christian Moody of Oklahoma in his first match, then fell by a 9-3 decision to Kyle Larson of Iowa State in the fifth-place bout.
Oklahoma State, on the strength of winning eight individual titles, won the team championship with 176.5 points. Oklahoma was second 93.5 points, followed by the Jackrabbits in third with 90.5 points.
The NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships will be held March 16-18 in St. Louis, Missouri. At-large selections are slated to be announced Tuesday.
SDSU INDIVIDUAL RESULTS
125: #7 Ben Gillette, Sr., Redfield, S.D. (3-3 record)
dec. #10 Devin Brown (West Virginia), 9-6
lost to #2 Nick Piccininni (Oklahoma State), by tech. fall [18-2, 5:09]
def. #9 Drew Romero (Air Force), by fall 5:54
dec. #6 Trey Andrews (Northern Colorado), 9-3
lost to #4 Christian Moody (Oklahoma), by dec., 8-5
lost to #5 Kyle Larson (Iowa State), by dec., 9-3
SIXTH PLACE – ends season with 16-17 record
133: #1 Seth Gross, So., Apple Valley, Minn. (3-0 record)
def. #9 Jacob Rubio (Oklahoma), by fall 3:41
major dec. #4 Cam Sykora (North Dakota State), 14-1
dec. #2 Kaid Brock (Oklahoma State), 9-7
BIG 12 CHAMPION – NCAA QUALIFIER – season record 30-1
141: #10 Henry Pohlmeyer, R-Fr., Johnston, Iowa (1-2 record)
lost to #7 Joe Wheeling (West Virginia), by dec., 8-2
def. #9 Taylor Nein (North Dakota State), by fall 4:42
lost to #5 John Meeks (Iowa State), by dec., 5-3
Pohlmeyer eliminated – ends season with 11-12 record
149: #2 Alex Kocer, Sr., Wagner, S.D. (3-2 record)
major dec. #7 Christian Monserrat (West Virginia), 10-0
lost to #3 Davion Jeffries (Oklahoma), by fall 4:43
dec. #5 Grant LaMont (Utah Valley), 13-11 [SV-1]
lost to #4 Cole Mendenhall (Wyoming), by fall 1:13
major dec. #6 Jerry McGinty (Air Force), 12-1
FOURTH PLACE – NCAA QUALIFIER – season record 27-8
157: #7 Logan Peterson, So., Lake Lillian, Minn. (2-2 record)
dec. #10 Dayton Garrett (West Virginia), 10-5
lost to #2 Clay Ream (North Dakota State), by dec., 5-2
def. #9 Jimmy Fate (Northern Colorado), by medical forfeit
lost to #3 Clark Glass (Oklahoma), by dec., 8-3
Peterson eliminated – ends season with 21-15 record
165: #4 Luke Zilverberg, Jr., Belle Plaine, Minn. (2-2 record)
dec. #5 Yoanse Mejias (Oklahoma), 4-0
lost to #1 Chandler Rogers (Oklahoma State), by fall 2:02
dec. #3 Branson Ashworth (Wyoming), 4-3
lost to #8 Keilan Torres (Northern Colorado), by fall 1:55
FOURTH PLACE – NCAA QUALIFIER – 24-8 season record
174: #1 David Kocer, Sr., Wagner, S.D. (3-1 record)
tech. fall #8 Dylan Urbach (North Dakota State), 16-0 [3:34]
lost to #5 Matt Reed (Oklahoma), by dec., 11-5
vs. #6 Kyle Pope (Wyoming), 3-2
dec. #3 Lelund Weatherspoon (Iowa State), 8-5
THIRD PLACE – NCAA QUALIFIER – 23-8 season record
184: #3 Martin Mueller, R-Fr., Rapid City, S.D. (3-1 record)
dec. #6 Parker VonEgidy (West Virginia), 1-0
lost to #2 Dylan Gabel (Northern Colorado), by dec., 4-0
dec. #5 Tyler McNutt (North Dakota State), 5-4
dec. #6 Parker VonEgidy (West Virginia), 3-1
THIRD PLACE – season record 16-13
197: #2 Nate Rotert, Jr., Spearfish, S.D. (2-2 record)
dec. #7 Cordell Eaton (North Dakota State), 9-4
lost to #3 Preston Weigel (Oklahoma State), by major dec., 9-0
tech. fall #8 Marcus Harrington (Iowa State), 20-4 [6:12]
lost to #5 Brad Johnson (Oklahoma), by dec., 4-0
FOURTH PLACE – NCAA QUALIFIER – season record 21-7
285: #7 Alex Macki, Jr., Cambridge, Iowa (2-2 record)
dec. #10 Brandon Ngati (West Virginia), 4-2 [TB-2]
lost to #2 Ross Larson (Oklahoma), by tech. fall [16-0, 2:32]
dec. #9 Jack Kuck (Northern Colorado), 4-2 [SV-2]
lost to #6 Brandon Tribble (Wyoming), by dec., 4-1
Macki eliminated – ends season with 9-17 record
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