Jacks open Big 12 slate on road

BROOKINGS, S.D. – The 15th-ranked South Dakota State University wrestling team will open its Big 12 dual slate this weekend by traveling west for a pair of matches.

The Jackrabbits, 5-2 overall, open the road trip Friday at Utah Valley. Match time is set for 7 p.m. Mountain Time (8 p.m. Central) at Lockhart Arena on the UVU campus in Orem, Utah. The match can be viewed online at gouvu.com/watch

Utah Valley, which is receiving votes in the latest USA Today/NWCA Division I Coaches Poll, also enters Friday’s dual with a 5-2 dual record that includes a pair of wins over Big 12 opponents. The Wolverines opened their dual season Nov. 3 with a win over West Virginia, then defeated North Dakota State, 26-13, in their most recent dual action on Dec. 15.

sdsulogoOn Sunday, SDSU will be in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to take on an Air Force squad that begins the week with a 4-1 overall record, including a 1-0 mark against Big 12 foes. The Falcons downed Big 12 newcomer Fresno State, 24-12, in dual action on Nov. 21, and are scheduled to wrestle both Long Island Post and Hofstra in Hempstead, New York, on Friday before returning home.

Sunday’s dual is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Mountain Time (noon Central) at Clune Arena on the United States Air Force Academy campus. Video coverage will be available through the FloWrestling.org subscription service.

THE UTAH VALLEY SERIES: SDSU and Utah Valley State have met every season since the 2005-06 campaign, when both squads became charter members of the Western Wrestling Conference. The Wolverines hold an 8-4 series advantage, although SDSU has won the past three matchups, including a 29-10 victory on Feb. 4, 2017, at Frost Arena. The Jackrabbit win was highlighted by pins from Nate Rotert and Seth Gross.

Before the Jackrabbits’ current series winning streak, Utah Valley had won seven duals in a row.

South Dakota State 29, Utah Valley 10 (Feb. 4, 2017)
165: Luke Zilverberg (SDSU) major dec. Koy Wilkinson (UVU), 12-4
174: Kimball Bastian (UVU) dec. #15 David Kocer (SDSU), 3-1 [SV-1]
184: Martin Mueller (SDSU) dec. Will Sumner (UVU), 7-4
197: #7 Nate Rotert (SDSU) def. Tanner Orndorff (UVU) by fall 2:38
285: Dustin Dennison (UVU) dec. Alex Macki (SDSU), 6-5
125: Ben Gillette (SDSU) dec. Mitchell Brown (UVU), 7-6
133: #2 Seth Gross (SDSU) def. Jarod Maynes (UVU) by fall 4:28
141: Trevor Willson (UVU) major dec. Isaac Andrade (SDSU), 14-5
149: #19 Alex Kocer (SDSU) dec. Grant LaMont (UVU), 9-2
157: Logan Peterson (SDSU) major dec. Raider Lofthouse (UVU), 12-4

Video Streaming: GoUVU.com (subscription may be required)

Match Notes: South Dakota State | Utah Valley

THE AIR FORCE SERIES: In a series dating back to the 1992-93 season, Air Force holds a 9-5 advantage over the Jackrabbits in dual competition. The Falcons and SDSU have met each season since the 2004-05 campaign, when both became charter members of the Western Wrestling Conference. Air Force won seven consecutive matchups between the 2006-07 and 2012-13 seasons, but the Jackrabbits have won the last four meetings, starting with an 18-14 win on Jan. 26, 2014, at Frost Arena.

In last year’s dual, Jan. 15, 2017, on the Falcons’ home mat, SDSU swept the first half of the dual, winning the first five bouts all by decision. Seth Gross added a pin at 133 pounds and Alex Kocer wrapped up the dual with a major decision as the Jackrabbits posted two bonus-point wins after intermission.

South Dakota State 28, Air Force 6 (Jan. 15, 2017)
157: Logan Peterson (SDSU) dec. Dane Robbins (AF), 7-6
165: Luke Zilverberg (SDSU) dec. Alex Lopouchanski (AF), 5-2
174: David Kocer (SDSU) dec. Michael Billingsley (AF), 6-0
184: Martin Mueller (SDSU) dec. Zen Ikehara (AF), 7-4
197: #8 Nate Rotert (SDSU) dec. Parker Hines (AF), 10-3
285: Kerry Powers (AF) dec. Alex Macki (SDSU), 3-0
125: Drew Romero (AF) dec. Ben Gillette (SDSU), 12-6
133: #6 Seth Gross (SDSU) def. Dylan Hyder (AF) by fall 3:45
141: Isaac Andrade (SDSU) dec. John Twomey (AF), 11-4
149: Alex Kocer (SDSU) major dec. Jerry McGinty (AF), 11-2

Video Streaming: FloWrestling.org (subscription)

Match Notes: South Dakota State | Air Force

SDSU Duals on Trackwrestling

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

In their first two seasons, the Jackrabbits combined to post a 14-3 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 three weeks.

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 (11th) and Wyoming (23rd). West Virginia, Oklahoma, Utah Valley and North Dakota State are all receiving votes.

Other current top-25 opponents on the Jackrabbits’ dual schedule this season include Arizona State (10th), Minnesota (14th) and Central Michigan (18th).

The Jackrabbits also are ranked 12th by both FloWrestling and TrackWrestling. 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 14-0 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 qualifer 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 respective rankings of 11th and 13th by TrackWrestling and Intermat.

LAST TIME OUT: South Dakota State’s Seth Gross and Logan Peterson each recorded pins as the 15th-ranked Jackrabbits rang in the new year with a 30-13 dual victory over Oregon State Jan. 5 at Frost Arena.

The Jackrabbits ran their dual winning streak to five matches in improving to 5-2 overall. Oregon State dropped to 2-2.

Trailing 4-0 after the first match, the top-ranked Gross gave SDSU the lead for good with a first-period pin over Devan Turner in the 133-pound bout. Gross’s pin was his sixth of the season as he improved to 13-0 this season and ran his winning streak in duals to 26 in a row, dating back to the 2015-16 campaign.

Henry Pohlmeyer upped the Jackrabbit advantage to 9-4 with a hard-fought, 5-2 decision over OSU’s Jack Hathaway at 141 pounds. A sophomore from Johnston, Iowa, Pohlmeyer avenged a defeat at the hands of Hathaway at the previous weekend’s Ken Kraft Midlands Championships.

Luke Zilverberg, the 11th-ranked wrestler at 157 pounds, started a streak of five consecutive SDSU wins – three of which were bonus-point victories – with a 5-4 overtime decision against Hunter Willits. Zilverberg trailed 4-2 early in the third period before forcing overtime with an escape and point for stalling against Willits. In the first tiebreaker, Zilverberg kept Willits on the mat for the first 30-second session, then prevented a Willits takedown in the next stanza to pull out the win.

Peterson notched SDSU’s second pin of the night, sticking the Beavers’ Billy Bigelow late in the second period of their 165-pound tilt, and ninth-ranked David Kocer followed in the 174-pound match with a 21-6 technical fall over Myles Terry.

Sophomore 184-pounder Martin Mueller made it four wins in a row for the Jackrabbits with a 16-8 major decision against Seth McLeod.

In the lone match between a pair of ranked wrestlers, SDSU’s sixth-ranked Nate Rotert spotted an early takedown to 13th-ranked Corey Griego, but held the upper hand most of the rest of the way in a 9-4 victory.

Oregon State’s two other ranked wrestlers, sixth-ranked heavyweight Amar Dhesi and No. 15 Ronnie Bresser at 125 pounds, each posted wins. Dhesi pinned SDSU backup Blake Wolters in the first period in the evening’s final match, while Bresser scored a 15-3 major decision over Connor Brown to open the dual.

Kurt Mode also was victorious for Oregon State as he posted a 10-7 decision over Colten Carlson at 149 pounds.

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 13-0 record. Of his 13 victories, six 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 73-16 overall record in his three seasons at SDSU, including a 33-6 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 26 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 26 with a first-period pin of Oregon State’s Devan Turner on Jan. 5.

Of his 26 consecutive dual wins, 12 have been by fall, six by major decision, and four each by decision and technical fall to total 128 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 33-6 record in duals during his Jackrabbit career.

A LOOK AHEAD: SDSU continues Big 12 Conference dual action with a pair of matches against ranked opponents at Frost Arena next week. The Jackrabbits open the homestand by hosting No. 23 Wyoming on Military Appreciation Night on Jan. 18. Action is slated for a 7 p.m. start. On Jan. 21, SDSU will take on No. 11 Northern Iowa in a 2 p.m. matinee. Both duals can be viewed on FloWrestling.org.

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