The South Dakota State University wrestling team will have a chance to set a program record for most consecutive dual victories when it travels east for a pair of weekend matches.
The 12th-ranked Jackrabbits, winners of 11 consecutive duals, open the weekend Friday night at Pittsburgh. Action is set to begin at 7 p.m. Eastern Time (6 p.m. Central) at Fitzgerald Field House on the Pitt campus. Friday’s dual is scheduled to be broadcast on ACC Network Plus and also will be available for viewing on ESPN3.com and via the WatchESPN app.
The Jackrabbits will then travel Sunday to Morgantown, West Virginia, for a Big 12 Conference dual against West Virginia, with action starting at 2 p.m. Eastern (1 p.m. Central) at WVU Coliseum. The Mountaineers enter the weekend with a 5-5 overall record, including a 4-3 mark against league foes after wins at Air Force (19-18) and Northern Colorado (24-16) last weekend.
Sunday’s dual is scheduled to be streamed at wvusports.com/watch
The SDSU record for most consecutive dual victories is 12, which was first set during the 1985-86 season and matched during the 2015-16 campaign.
THE PITT SERIES: Friday’s dual will mark the first-ever meeting between South Dakota State and Pittsburgh on the wrestling mat.
THE WVU SERIES: South Dakota State and West Virginia are scheduled to meet in dual action for the third time, a series that began when the Jackrabbits joined the Big 12 Conference as an affiliate member for wrestling at the start of the 2015-16 season.
SDSU has won each of the first two meetings, posting an 18-15 victory at Frost Arena in the initial meeting on Feb. 12, 2016, before recording a 32-9 win last season at WVU.
In last year’s matchup, SDSU posted five consecutive bonus-point victories, starting with Alex Kocer at 149 pounds, who pinned Christian Monserrat in the first period. Logan Peterson and Luke Zilverberg recorded consecutive major decisions at 157 and 165 pounds, respectively. Peterson tallied a 9-0 victory over Dayton Garrett, while Zilverberg defeated Mountaineer backup Ryan Lopez, 17-4.
David Kocer closed the first half of the dual with a 22-7 technical-fall victory over Ty Millward. Kocer, who led only 2-0 at the end of the first period, recorded nine more takedowns over the final two periods.
At 184 pounds, Martin Mueller continued the string with a 13-2 major decision over Parker Von Egidy.
SDSU wrapped up the dual with three consecutive wins, including a 9-1 major-decision victory by Seth Gross over Cory Stainbrook.
#16 South Dakota State 32, West Virginia 9 (Feb. 9, 2017)
141: Joe Wheeling (WV) dec. Isaac Andrade (SDSU), 12-5
149: #16 Alex Kocer (SDSU) def. Christian Monserrat (WV) by fall (2:33)
157: Logan Peterson (SDSU) major dec. Dayton Garrett (WV), 9-0
165: Luke Zilverberg (SDSU) major dec. Ryan Lopez (WV), 17-4
174: #16 David Kocer (SDSU) tech. fall Ty Millward (WV), 22-7 (7:00)
184: Martin Mueller (SDSU) major dec. Parker VonEgidy (WV), 13-2
197: #5 Jacob Smith (WV) def. #7 Nate Rotert (SDSU) by medical forfeit
285: Alex Macki (SDSU) dec. Brandon Ngati (WV), 1-0
125: Ben Gillette (SDSU) dec. Devin Brown (WV), 7-2
133: #2 Seth Gross (SDSU) major dec. Cory Stainbrook (WV), 9-1
Note: SDSU deducted one team point for unsportsmanlike conduct
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 20-3 record in duals against Big 12 foes, including a 14-1 mark over the last two seasons, with the only loss coming at Oklahoma State on Jan. 22, 2017.
SDSU also turned in a fourth-place finish at the 2016 Big 12 Wrestling Championship, followed by a third-place effort last season.
The 2018 Big 12 Wrestling Championship is slated for March 3-4 at BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Session times are set for 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 3, followed by noon and 6 p.m. sessions on Sunday, March 4. Tickets can be ordered at ticketmaster.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 USA Today/NWCA Division I Coaches Poll, and have since moved up four spots to 12th – their highest-ever ranking at the D-I level. SDSU rose three spots following wins over Wyoming (Jan. 18) and Northern Iowa (Jan. 21) after holding the 15th spot for four consecutive weeks.
Defending national champion Penn State is the top-ranked team in the poll, followed by Ohio State. Missouri is third, with Michigan fourth and Oklahoma State fifth.
Besides Oklahoma State and the Jackrabbits, the Big 12 is represented in the poll by newcomer Northern Iowa (13th), Wyoming (17th) and Utah Valley (25th).
Other current top-25 opponents on the Jackrabbits’ dual schedule this season include Arizona State (eighth), Central Michigan (16th) and Minnesota (21st).
The Jackrabbits also are ranked 14th by TrackWrestling and 15th by FloWrestling. SDSU stands 11th and 14th in both dual and tournament rankings conducted by WIN Magazine, as well as 12th in the dual and 13th in the tournament rankings by Intermat.
Individually, six Jackrabbits, including top-ranked Seth Gross at 133 pounds, appeared in the first installment of the NCAA coaches’ panel rankings, which were released Jan. 18.
A junior from Apple Valley, Minnesota, Gross enters the week with an 18-1 record during the 2017-18 season, with his only loss coming against top-ranked 141-pounder Bryce Meredith of Wyoming. Gross also holds the top spot in rankings conducted by four major rating services: FloWrestling, Intermat, TrackWrestling and WIN Magazine.
Three other returning national qualifiers for the Jackrabbits also appear in the NCAA panel rankings in their respective weight classes. Wagner native David Kocer and Spearfish product Nate Rotert are each ranked ninth at 174 and 197 pounds, respectively, while 157-pounder Luke Zilverberg is tied for 11th.
A senior, Kocer is ranked 10th this week by Intermat, and 11th by both WIN Magazine and TrackWrestling. The two-time NCAA qualifier also stands 12th in the FloWrestling rankings.
Rotert, a three-time NCAA qualifier from Spearfish, is ranked 11th this week by all four rating services.
Zilverberg 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. 10 in this week’s WIN Magazine rankings. He also is rated 11th by TrackWrestling, 12th by Intermat and 14th by FloWrestling.
Rounding out the SDSU contingent in the NCAA panel rankings are freshman Connor Brown and sophomore Martin Mueller. Brown was ranked 29th in the 125-pound weight class, while Mueller is 23rd at 184 pounds.
Brown cracked the national rankings for the first time in his career after consecutive dual wins against Wyoming and Northern Iowa. A true freshman from Oak Grove, Missouri, Brown has been tabbed 18th by WIN Magazine, 19th by Intermat and 23rd by TrackWrestling.
Mueller made his initial appearance in an individual ranking this week, checking in at No. 20 in the 184-pound rankings conducted by Intermat.
The final NCAA panel rankings will be one of the tools used as part of the selection process to determine the qualifiers for the 2018 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, which will be held March 15-17 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
LAST TIME OUT: South Dakota State raced out to a 16-0 lead through three matches and went on to defeat Iowa State, 30-15, giving Jackrabbit head coach Chris Bono his 100th career wrestling dual victory Feb. 4 before 2,276 fans at Frost Arena.
The 12th-ranked Jackrabbits posted their 11th consecutive dual victory, improving to 11-2 overall and 6-0 against Big 12 Conference opponents. Iowa State dropped to 7-8 overall and 2-5 against conference foes.
Freshman 125-pounder Connor Brown began the quick start for SDSU with a first-period pin of Sinjin Briggs. Brown scored early on a takedown, then turned the second of his cradle attempts into a pin in 2 minutes and 7 seconds.
Top-ranked Seth Gross followed with a 12-3 major decision over Markus Simmons in the 133-pound matchup. Gross, who stayed unbeaten in 133-pound matches this season, improved to 18-1 overall and 9-1 in duals.
The SDSU lead grew to 16-0 when Henry Pohlmeyer received a forfeit at 141 pounds.
Iowa State got on the board with a 19-4 technical fall victory from Jarrett Degen over Colten Carlson in the 149-pound division, and the Cyclones appeared on the verge of cutting the deficit in half as Chase Straw led 16th-ranked Luke Zilverberg late in their match. However, Zilverberg turned a would-be takedown from Straw into a takedown of his own with about 20 seconds remaining, then put Straw to his back for a four-point near-fall at the buzzer and a 10-7 victory.
The Jackrabbits continued to hold the momentum with consecutive decisive victories. Logan Peterson won by technical fall, 16-1, early in the third period of his 165-pound match, and 14th-ranked David Kocer scored a 9-2 decision over Danny Bush at 174 pounds.
Martin Mueller made it four wins in a row for the Jackrabbits with a 6-5 decision over Dane Pestano in the 184-pound weight class that pushed the SDSU advantage to 30-5. Mueller recorded a pair of takedowns in the opening period, then took the lead for good on an escape midway through the third period before fending off a couple shots by Pestano in the closing seconds.
The Cyclones’ other two wins were also bonus-point victories as Sam Colbray upset 11th-ranked Nate Rotert at 197 pounds via a pin early in the third period and heavyweight Marcus Harrington closed the dual with a 10-1 major decision over SDSU’s Alex Macki.
A LOOK AHEAD: The Jackrabbits are scheduled to close out the dual season by hosting rival North Dakota State Feb. 16 in the annual Battle for the Border Bell. The Big 12 Conference matchup is slated for a 7 p.m. start at Frost Arena and will be available for viewing through FloWrestling.org (subscription required).
The SDSU senior class will be honored during an on-mat ceremony following the Feb. 16 dual.