BROOKINGS, S.D. – For the second time in as many duals, the South Dakota State University wrestling team will face a ranked opponent. Sunday, the Jackrabbits will travel to Tempe, Arizona, for a matchup against 12th-ranked Arizona State.
Action is scheduled to begin at noon Mountain Time (1 p.m. Central) at Wells Fargo Arena on the ASU campus. The dual is to be televised on the Pac-12 Network and Pac-12 Arizona, with live video streaming available at Pac-12.com or via the Pac-12 Now app.
SDSU, ranked 16th in the latest NWCA/USA Today poll, dropped its dual opener Nov. 17 to sixth-ranked Minnesota, 20-12. Arizona State, meanwhile, is 1-2 in duals after meeting three ranked opponents so far this season. The Sun Devils dropped a Nov. 10 decision to third-ranked Michigan, 21-18, then were defeated by second-ranked Ohio State, 31-12, on Nov. 12. ASU cracked the win column with a 32-6 home victory over No. 22 Pittsburgh on Nov. 19.
The 157-pound bout also is slated to be a matchup between ranked wrestlers as fifth-ranked Joshua Shields of Arizona State would meet the Jackrabbits’ 11th-ranked Luke Zilverberg.
THE SERIES: Sunday’s matchup will mark the first-ever dual between South Dakota State and Arizona State.
The Jackrabbits have met several other members of the Pac-12 Conference since moving to the Division I ranks at the start of the 2004-05 season. Most recently, SDSU defeated affiliate members Boise State (37-3, last season) and Cal State Bakersfield (23-10, during 2015-16 season). Boise State has since discontinued its wrestling program.
SDSU is scheduled to host Pac-12 member Oregon State in dual action Jan. 5 at Frost Arena.
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 both FloWrestling and WIN Magazine, 15th by TrackWrestling and 16th Intermat.
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 conducted by FloWrestling, Intermat, TrackWrestling and WIN Magazine.
Three-time NCAA qualifier Nate Rotert at 197 pounds is ranked seventh by both Intermat and FloWrestling, as well as eighth by WIN Magazine and 10th by TrackWrestling, while 174-pound senior David Kocer is ranked as high as 10th by FloWrestling, followed by a 14th-place showing by Intermat and 17th-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 has dropped 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. 11 in this week’s FloWrestling and TrackWrestling rankings. He also stands 13th in the Intermat rankings and 14th in the WIN Magazine survey.
DUAL STREAK: Seth Gross brings a streak of 23 consecutive victories in dual competition into Sunday’s matchup at Arizona State. 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. He stayed unbeaten at 133 pounds and extended his winning streak to 23 with a 9-4 decision over sixth-ranked Mitch McKee of Minnesota on Nov. 17.
Of his 23 consecutive dual wins, 11 have been by fall, five by major decision, four by decision, and three by technical fall and decision to total 113 team dual points.
Gross’ last dual loss was a 6-4 setback to Wyoming’s Bryce Meredith on Jan. 29, 2016.
A LOOK AHEAD: The Jackrabbits continue dual action Dec. 3 by competing in the Dakota Showcase in Spearfish. The day-long event is scheduled to begin at noon Mountain (1 p.m. Central) at Spearfish High School, with action on two mats.