Jackrabbits host two ranked opponents

The 15th-ranked South Dakota State University wrestling team will open the home portion of its Big 12 Conference schedule this week by hosting a pair of nationally ranked teams at Frost Arena.

The Jackrabbits, 7-2 overall and 2-0 in league duals, open the homestand Thursday by hosting No. 22 Wyoming on Military Appreciation Night. Start time is set for 7 p.m. Active duty and former military personnel can claim two free tickets to Thursday’s dual by presenting valid identification at Frost Arena ticket stations upon arrival.

Wyoming also enters Thursday’s dual 7-2 overall and is 1-1 against Big 12 foes. The Cowboys opened league dual competition with a 24-14 victory at Iowa State on Dec. 9 but suffered a 20-15 setback at the hands of Oklahoma State 10 days later.

sdsulogoOn Sunday, the Jackrabbits resume a long-standing rivalry by hosting 11th-ranked Northern Iowa at 2 p.m. UNI begins the week with a 5-2 overall dual record, including a 2-0 mark in their first season as a Big 12 Conference affiliate member. The Panthers edged North Dakota State, 21-19, on Nov. 19, followed by a 25-9 victory over Oklahoma Jan. 13.

Both of this week’s duals will be available for viewing online through the FloWrestling.org subscription service.

Video Streaming: Wyoming DualNorthern Iowa Dual

THE WYOMING SERIES: Thursday’s dual will mark the 18th meeting on the mat between South Dakota State and Wyoming, a series that dates back to the 1953-54 season. Wyoming holds a 15-3 series advantage, with all three Jackrabbit victories coming in three of the last four meetings. SDSU pulled out an 18-17 triumph on Jan. 19, 2014, in Gillette, Wyoming, then posted a 22-15 home victory on Jan. 29, 2016.

In last season’s meeting, the Jackrabbits swept the upper weights, including earning three bonus-point victories as they downed Wyoming, 33-11, on Jan. 13, 2017, in Laramie, Wyoming. SDSU led 17-0 through three matches as 174-pounder David Kocer recorded a technical fall and Martin Mueller and Nate Rotert followed with pins at 184 and 197 pounds, respectively. Seth Gross added a pin later in the match.

#20 South Dakota State 33, Wyoming 11 (Jan. 13, 2017)
174: David Kocer (SDSU) tech. fall Chaz Polson (WYO), 22-3 (5:47)
184: Martin Mueller (SDSU) def. Kyle Pope (WYO) by fall 6:55
197: #8 Nate Rotert (SDSU) def. Nate Shaw (WYO) by fall 1:51
285: Alex Macki (SDSU) dec. Brandon Tribble (WYO), 5-3 [SV-1]
125: Drew Templeman (WYO) major dec. Ben Gillette (WYO), 12-0
133: #6 Seth Gross (SDSU) def. Ronald Stevens (WYO) by fall 2:15
141: #8 Bryce Meredith (WYO) major dec. Isaac Andrade (SDSU), 13-4|
149: Alex Kocer (SDSU) major dec. #16 Cole Mendenhall (WYO), 12-2
157: #17 Archie Colgan (WYO) dec. Logan Peterson (SDSU), 10-5
165: Luke Zilverberg (SDSU) dec. #15 Branson Ashworth (WYO), 8-6 [SV-2]

THE UNI SERIES: South Dakota State has found the going tough in its history against Northern Iowa, with the Panthers holding a 37-3-1 advantage in a dual series that dates back to the 1953-54 season. Both SDSU and Northern Iowa competed in the North Central Conference at the Division II level, with the series resuming during the 2004-05 season after a 20-year hiatus when the Jackrabbits joined UNI at the Division I?level and both squads competed in the Western Wrestling Conference.

UNI competed in the Mid-America Conference for five seasons (2013-17) before gaining affiliate membership in the Big 12 Conference prior to the start of the 2017-18 campaign.

The Panthers have won 21 duals in a row against SDSU, the most recent of which was a 29-12 victory during the 2013-14 season. The Jackrabbits’ last victory in the series was a 21-19 win during the 1972-73 season.

BIG 12 SUCCESS: Now in its third season as an affiliate member of the Big 12 Conference for wrestling, South Dakota State has established itself as one of the top teams in the league.

Since joining the league at the start of the 2015-16 season, the Jackrabbits have combined to post a 16-3 record in duals against Big 12 foes, including an 8-1 mark during the 2016-17 campaign. SDSU also turned in a fourth-place finish at the 2016 Big 12 Wrestling Championship, followed by a third-place effort last season.

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 USA Today/NWCA Division I Coaches Poll, and have since moved up one spot to 15th – their highest-ever ranking at the D-I level – a spot they have held the last four weeks.

Defending national champion Penn State is the top-ranked team in the poll, followed by Ohio State. Missouri is third, with Iowa fourth and Oklahoma State fifth.

Besides Oklahoma State and the Jackrabbits, the Big 12 is represented in the poll by newcomer Northern Iowa (11th) and Wyoming (22nd). Oklahoma and West Virginia are receiving votes.

Other current top-25 opponents on the Jackrabbits’ dual schedule this season include Arizona State (ninth), Minnesota (13th) and Central Michigan (17th).

The Jackrabbits also are ranked 12th by TrackWrestling and 13th by FloWrestling. SDSU stands 11th in tournament rankings conducted by both Intermat and WIN Magazine, as well as 12th in the dual rankings from WIN and 15th by 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 all four rating services. A junior from Apple Valley, Minnesota, Gross is undefeated so far this season with a 16-0 record.

Three-time NCAA qualifier Nate Rotert at 197 pounds is ranked seventh by WIN Magazine, ninth by Intermat and 11th by both FloWrestling and TrackWrestling.

Senior 174-pounder David Kocer is ranked as high as ninth by FloWrestling and Intermat, followed respective 11th- and 12th-place showings in the WIN Magazine and Track Wrestling rankings. A Wagner native, Kocer is a two-time NCAA qualifier.

Completing the Jackrabbit rankings is Luke Zilverberg, who has dropped down to the 157-pound weight class for his senior season. An NCAA qualifier at 165 pounds during the 2016-17 season, the Belle Plaine, Minnesota, native checks in at No. 9 in the WIN Magazine rankings, followed by a 10th-place ranking by FloWrestling and 12th-place rankings by TrackWrestling and Intermat.

LAST WEEK: South Dakota State opened the Big 12 Conference portion of its dual season by posting a pair of convincing road victories. The Jackrabbits downed Utah Valley, 31-10, Jan. 12 in Orem, Utah, then posted a 32-6 victory at Air Force on Jan. 14.

In both duals, the Jackrabbits raced out to a 15-0 lead through three matches. Against Utah Valley, 141-pounder Henry Pohlmeyer trailed early in his match against Matt Findlay but came back later in the first period to post a pin. Colten Carlson picked up a win by injury default over UVU’s Grant LaMont and Luke Zilverberg followed with a 6-0 shutout of Raider Lofthouse at 157 pounds.

Martin Mueller added a major-decision victory at 184 pounds, with top-ranked Seth Gross closing the dual with a pin. Also winning by decision for the Jackrabbits were David Kocer (174) and Nate Rotert (197).

Versus Air Force, Gross and Pohlmeyer notched their second pins of the weekend after freshman 125-pounder Connor Brown opened the dual with a win by decision.

SDSU also finished the dual strong by winning the final four matches. Kocer scored a 12-0 major decision, while Mueller, Rotert and Alex Macki all won by decision.

Zilverberg, ranked 10th at 157 pounds, added a win by major decision, 10-1, over 20th-ranked Alex Mossing.

GROSS ON HODGE WATCH LIST: Nearing the halfway mark of the 2017-18 wrestling season, South Dakota State’s Seth Gross is firmly in the discussion for the Hodge Trophy, which is awarded annually to the most outstanding collegiate wrestler.

A junior from Apple Valley, Minnesota, Gross is undefeated so far this season with a 15-0 record. Of his 16 victories, eight have been by fall and five have been by technical fall. At the Ken Kraft Midlands Championships Dec. 29-30 in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, the top-ranked Gross cruised to the 133-pound title by recording four technical falls and two pins in his six matches, earning the two-day tournament’s Dan Gable Outstanding Wrestler award.

Hodge Trophy candidates are judged on the following criteria: record, number of pins, dominance, past credentials, quality of competition, sportsmanship/citizenship and heart.

Gross enters the week with a 75-16 overall record in his three seasons at SDSU, including a 35-6 mark in duals. A two-time NCAA qualifier, Gross compiled a 34-2 record as a sophomore en route to a national runner-up at the 2017 NCAA Championships.

DUAL STREAK: Seth Gross brings a streak of 28 consecutive victories in dual competition into the week. 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 this season and extended his winning streak to 28 with pins over Durbin Lloren (Utah Valley) and Isaac Jimenez (Air Force) last weekend.

Of his 28 consecutive dual wins, 14 have been by fall, six by major decision, and four each by decision and technical fall to total 140 team dual points.

Gross’ last dual loss was a 6-4 setback to Wyoming’s Bryce Meredith on Jan. 29, 2016. Overall, he holds a 35-6 record in duals during his Jackrabbit career.

A LOOK AHEAD: The Jackrabbits will be back on the road, traveling Jan. 28 for a dual at Oklahoma. Start time is 2 p.m. at McCasland Field House on the OU campus in Norman. The match is scheduled to be televised through a variety of FOX Sports outlets, including FS Southwest, FS Oklahoma and FOX College Sports.

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