SDSU Seeks Milestone Win for Bono

The South Dakota State University wrestling team returns to home action Sunday, hosting Big 12 Conference rival Iowa State.

Action is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. at Frost Arena. The dual can be viewed via the subscription service. Fans attending Sunday’s dual can redeem their ticket stub for $2 off appetizers at Cubby’s in downtown Brookings following the match.

The Jackrabbits, who are ranked No. 12 in the USA Today/National Wrestling Coaches Association poll for the second week in a row, enter the matchup on a 10-match winning streak. SDSU improved to 10-2 overall and 5-0 against Big 12 foes with a 22-13 victory at Oklahoma on Jan. 28.

sdsulogoBesides attempting to extend their winning streak, the Jackrabbits will attempt to record the 100th dual win in head coach Chris Bono’s career. Now in his sixth season at SDSU, Bono has led the Jackrabbits to a 60-41 dual record. In his first go-around as a head coach, the Iowa State alum compiled a 39-17 record in three seasons (2007-09) at Chattanooga, giving him a 99-58 career mark.

Iowa State, meanwhile, is in its first season under head coach Kevin Dresser, who previously built a top-10 program at Virginia Tech. The Cyclones, who will wrestle Friday night at North Dakota State, enter the week 6-7 overall, including a 1-4 record in the Big 12. The Cyclones were swept during a weekend road trip last weekend, falling 21-16 at Oklahoma on Jan. 26 and 31-3 at fifth-ranked Oklahoma State two days later.

Match Notes: South Dakota State | Iowa State

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THE SERIES: Sunday’s match will mark the 11th time SDSU and the Cyclones have met in dual action, a series that dates back to a 27-2 Iowa State victory during the 1951-52 season.

Iowa State won the first nine meetings before the Jackrabbits broke into the win column with a convincing 27-9 victory at Frost Arena in the 2016-17 season opener. SDSU claimed seven of the 10 matches, recording four bonus-point victories in the process.

Luke Zilverberg set the tone with a 14-2 major decision over Colston DiBlasi at 165 pounds, with Seth Gross (16-0) and Alex Kocer (17-2) each recording technical falls. Alex Martin Mueller added a major decision, while David Kocer, Alex Macki, and Colin Holler all won by decision.

South Dakota State 27, #18 Iowa State 9 (Nov. 4, 2016)
165: Luke Zilverberg (SDSU) major dec., Colston DiBlasi (ISU), 14-2
174: David Kocer (SDSU) dec. #7 Lelund Weatherspoon (ISU), 3-1
184: Martin Mueller (SDSU) major dec. Carson Powell (ISU), 19-6
197: Patrick Downey III (ISU) dec. #9 Nate Rotert (SDSU), 8-6 [Note: Downey ranked 7th at 184 pounds]
285: Alex Macki (SDSU) dec. Nick Nolting (ISU), 3-1
125: Kyle Larson (ISU) dec. Ben Gillette (SDSU), 6-1
133: #6 Seth Gross (SDSU) tech. fall Nathan Boston (ISU), 16-0 (7:00)
141: John Meeks (ISU) dec. Henry Pohlmeyer (SDSU), 5-3
149: Alex Kocer (SDSU) tech. fall Blayne Briceno (ISU), 17-2 (5:00)
157: Colin Holler (SDSU) dec. Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer (ISU), 5-2

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 19-3 record in duals against Big 12 foes, including a 13-1 mark over the last two seasons, with the only 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.

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) and Wyoming (22nd). Oklahoma is receiving votes.

Other current top-25 opponents on the Jackrabbits’ dual schedule this season include Arizona State (eighth), Central Michigan (16th) and Minnesota (18th).

The Jackrabbits also are ranked 14th by TrackWrestling and 15th by FloWrestling. SDSU stands 11th and 12th in both dual tournament rankings conducted by WIN Magazine, as well as 12th in the dual and 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 a 17-1 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 and two-time NCAA qualifier, Kocer is ranked 11th this week by Intermat and 13th by both WIN Magazine and TrackWrestling. The Wagner native also stands 14th in the FloWrestling rankings.

Rotert, a three-time NCAA qualifier from Spearfish, is ranked as high as sixth by WIN Magazine. He also holds rankings of ninth by both Intermat and TrackWrestling, along with an 11th-place showing in the FloWrestling individual ratings.

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 16th 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, 20th by FloWrestling and 23rd by TrackWrestling.

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: Twelfth-ranked South Dakota State won the final three matches to extend its wrestling dual winning streak to 10 with a 22-13 victory over Oklahoma Jan. 28 at McCasland Field House in Norman, Oklahoma.

The Jackrabbits improved to 10-2 overall and 5-0 against Big 12 opponents this season. Oklahoma, which was receiving votes in the latest USA Today/National Wrestling Coaches Association poll, dropped to 7-7 overall and 3-3 in the Big 12.

Trailing 13-12 entering the 184-pound matchup, the Jackrabbits’ Martin Mueller gave SDSU the lead for good with a 14-1 major decision over Matt Waddell. The win upped Mueller’s season record to 17-4 overall and 8-2 in duals.

Nate Rotert, ranked 11th at 197 pounds, followed with a 3-1 victory over Andrew Dixon to remain undefeated in duals this season at 11-0. Rotert’s first two points of the match came on stalling calls against Dixon, then escaped early in the third period for his 19th win of the season.

Needing only to avoid a pin to secure the dual win, Jackrabbit heavyweight Alex Macki put together a big third period that included an escape and pair of takedowns for a 5-3 decision over the Sooners’ Connor Webb.

Oklahoma grabbed its momentary 13-12 lead on the strength of winning both matchups featuring ranked wrestlers from both squads. In the opening bout of the dual, OU’s 17th-ranked Christian Moody scored a 5-3 decision over 20th-ranked Connor Brown. Later, the Sooners’ 14th-ranked Yoanse Mejias took an early 6-0 lead over the Jackrabbits’ ninth-ranked David Kocer before holding on for a 7-5 decision.

Top-ranked Seth Gross of SDSU put the Jackrabbits on the board with a first-period pin over Jacob Rubio. Gross remained unbeaten at 133 pounds this season (17-0) with his 10th win by fall.

Henry Pohlmeyer and 16th-ranked Luke Zilverberg were winners by decision for the Jackrabbits. Pohlmeyer recorded a 7-0 shutout of Mike Longo at 141 pounds, while Zilverberg won 5-4 in an overtime tiebreaker in the 157-pound match against Justin Thomas.

Thomas forced overtime with an escape and takedown in the final 30 seconds of regulation. Zilverberg controlled the tiebreaker by recording an escape in the first portion, then managed to successfully ride Thomas over the final 30 seconds.

UNDEFEATED IN DUALS: Senior 197-pounder Nate Rotert will attempt to become the second Jackrabbit wrestler in as many seasons to go undefeated in dual competition. The Spearfish native has gone 11-0 in duals so far this season, upping his overall record to 18-2 with a 3-1 decision over Oklahoma’s Andrew Dixon on Jan. 28.

During the 2016-17 campaign, Seth Gross compiled a perfect 17-0 record in duals while wrestling at 133 pounds. Gross pushed his duals winning streak, which dated back to the final five duals of the 2015-16 season, to 28 before moving up a weight class in a Jan. 18 matchup against Wyoming and dropping a 4-2 decision to top-ranked 141-pounder Bryce Meredith in what is believed to be the first-ever 1-versus-1 matchup in Division I wrestling under the current weights configuration.

A LOOK AHEAD: The Jackrabbits are scheduled to close out the road portion of their dual schedule with a trip east. SDSU is scheduled to wrestle Feb. 9 at Pittsburgh, followed by a matchup with Big 12 rival West Virginia on Feb. 11. Action at Pittsburgh is slated for 7 p.m. Eastern (6 p.m. Central), with the West Virginia match is scheduled as a matinee starting at 2 p.m. Eastern (1 p.m. Central).

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