Jackrabbits host Minnesota in first dual

BROOKINGS, S.D. – The South Dakota State University wrestling team opens the dual portion of its schedule Friday night, hosting Minnesota in a matchup between nationally ranked teams.

Action is slated for a 7 p.m. start at Frost Arena. The dual can be viewed online via the FloWrestling.org subscription site.

The Jackrabbits, ranked 16th in this week’s National Wrestling Coaches Association/USA Today Division I poll, ended the 2016-17 season with a 14-5 dual record. SDSU returns eight starters from a season ago.

Minnesota, meanwhile, enters Friday’s dual ranked sixth. The Golden Gophers are 1-0 in duals so far this season after posting a 29-6 home win over Air Force on Nov. 12.

sdsulogo THE SERIES: Minnesota has held the upper hand over the Jackrabbits in dual action, leading the all-time series, which dates back to the 1949-50 season, by a 23-4 count.

SDSU’s last victory over the Golden Gophers was a 23-18 triumph during the 1974-75 campaign.

The two programs met Nov. 19, 2016, in Minneapolis, in a dual that was not decided until the final bout. Minnesota won the final four matches, including the decisive match at heavyweight, to edge South Dakota State, 18-17.

SDSU won five of the first six matches on the night, including major decisions by returning NCAA qualifiers Seth Gross and Alex Kocer. Gross, ranked seventh at 133 pounds, defeated Mitch McKee, 12-3, while Kocer scored a 10-2 major decision.

Ben Gillette opened the dual with an 8-1 decision over Skyler Petry at 125 pounds and Colin Holler scored a 6-4 decision over 18th-ranked Jake Short at 157 pounds. Luke Zilverberg gave SDSU a 17-3 lead with a 3-1 decision over Brandon Kingsley in the 165-pound bout.

The Minnesota comeback began at 174 pounds, where Nick Wanzek edged David Kocer of SDSU, 3-2, in a match between ranked wrestlers. The Golden Gophers also had the upper hand in another battle between two nationally ranked wrestlers at 197 pounds, where Minnesota’s second-ranked Brett Pfarr defeated fifth-ranked Nate Rotert, 7-0, to pull to within 17-12 in the team score.

The dual remained up for grabs entering the heavyweight bout, where fifth-ranked Michael Kroells of Minnesota met the Jackrabbits’ Alex Macki. Unfortunately for the Jackrabbits, Macki was assessed multiple stalling calls in the match, leading to his disqualification and giving the Golden Gophers six team points to pull out the one-point victory.

FloWrestling ($) Live Video: Minnesota at South Dakota State

Live Stats on trackwrestling.com

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.

The Jackrabbits opened the 2017-18 season with a No. 16 ranking in the first NWCA/USA Today Division I Coaches Poll, and maintain that position in this week’s rankings.

Defending national champion Penn State is the top-ranked team in the poll, followed by Ohio State. Reigning Big 12 Conference champion Oklahoma State is third.

Besides Oklahoma State and the Jackrabbits, the Big 12 is represented in the poll by newcomer Northern Iowa (13th) and Oklahoma (20th).

Other current top-25 opponents on the Jackrabbits’ dual schedule this season include Minnesota (sixth), Arizona State (12th), Central Michigan (17th) and Pittsburgh (24th).

The Jackrabbits also are ranked 14th by FloWrestling, 15th by both WIN Magazine and Intermat, and 16th by TrackWrestling.

Individually, all four of the Jackrabbits’ returning national qualifiers appear in at least one Division I poll, highlighted by Seth Gross’ No. 1 ranking by four rating services. The junior from Apple Valley, Minnesota, holds the top spot at 133 pounds in rankings condcuted by FloWrestling, Intermat, TrackWrestling and WIN Magazine.

Three-time NCAA qualifier Nate Rotert at 197 pounds is ranked eighth by both Intermat and FloWrestling, as well as ninth by WIN Magazine and 11th by TrackWrestling, while 174-pound senior David Kocer is ranked as high as 10th by FloWrestling, followed by a 15th-place showing by Intermat and 20th-place showings in the TrackWrestling and WIN Magazine rankings. A Wagner native, Kocer is a two-time national qualifier.

Completing the Jackrabbit rankings is Luke Zilverberg, who is dropping down to the 157-pound weight class for his senior season. An NCAA qualifer at 165 pounds during the 2016-17 season, the Belle Plaine, Minnesota, native checks in at No. 14 in this week’s FloWrestling rankings. He also stands 17th in the TrackWrestling rankings and 18th in both the Intermat and WIN Magazine surveys.

DUAL STREAK: Seth Gross brings a streak of 22 consecutive victories in dual competition into the 2017-18 campaign. After winning his final five dual bouts at 141 pounds during the 2015-16 season, Gross posted a perfect 17-0 record in duals last season while wrestling at 133 pounds. Of his 22 consecutive dual wins, 11 have been by fall, five by major decision and three each by technical fall and decision to total 110 team dual points.

KOCER JOINS TOP 25: Senior 174-pounder David Kocer moved into the Jackrabbit top 25 for career wins during competition Nov. 5 at the season-opening Warren Williamson/Daktronics Open. Kocer followed a runner-up finish at the Daktronics Open by winning his weight class at the Bison Open last weekend. With a 6-1 record this season, Kocer has upped his career mark to 86-44 to tie him with Bryan Guzzo (86-47 record from 1986-89) for 19th place on the Jackrabbit career charts.

He also joins his older brother, Alex, in the top 25. Alex Kocer compiled a 96-44 record from 2014-17, ending his career with an eighth-place All-America finish at 149 pounds in 2017.

A LOOK AHEAD: The Jackrabbits continue dual action Nov. 26 by traveling to nationally ranked Arizona State. The match is scheduled to start at noon Mountain Time (1 p.m. Central), with television coverage on the Pac-12 Networks.

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