Chris Bono, who built the South Dakota State University wrestling program to national prominence, stepped down Saturday to accept the head coaching position at the University of Wisconsin.
“First of all, I want to thank (SDSU Director of Athletics) Justin Sell. He brought me back to coaching and gave us everything we needed to be successful. For what he did I will be forever grateful,” Bono said. “I also want to thank the fans for all their support. SDSU and the community of Brookings is a very special place.”
In his six seasons at SDSU, Bono coached 24 NCAA qualifiers and five All-Americans. He also led the Jackrabbits to a 64-41 dual record that included four consecutive winning seasons and a 22-3 mark against Big 12 Conference foes since joining the league at the start of the 2015-16 season. SDSU was a fixture in the national rankings each of the last three seasons, rising to as high as No. 12 this past season.
“Coach Bono came in at a really important time for our wrestling program and we wish him and his family nothing but the best after an incredible run,” Sell said. “Through his efforts in recruiting quality student-athletes we’ve seen our program reach new heights and have developed a national reputation for a passionate fan base. I’m excited about where this program is going.”
The 2017-18 campaign was the most successful under Bono as the Jackrabbits compiled a 14-2 dual record that included a school-record 14 consecutive victories to end the season. SDSU finished third at the Big 12 Championship as Seth Gross and Nate Rotert won individual conference titles. Two weeks later, a program-record seven Jackrabbits competed at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships and posted a 12th-place finish. Gross became SDSU’s first national champion at the D-I level by winning the 133-pound crown, with Luke Zilverberg (157) and David Kocer (174) also earning All-America honors.
Bono, who previously served a three-year stint as head coach at Chattanooga (2006-09) and was a longtime assistant at his alma mater, Iowa State, took over a Jackrabbit program in the spring of 2012 that had won a combined seven duals in the three seasons prior to his arrival. His squads increased their dual winning percentage each season, which included recording three consecutive 14-win campaigns to close out his tenure.
At Wisconsin, Bono takes over for National Wrestling Hall of Fame coach Barry Davis, who resigned earlier this month after 25 years at the helm of the Badger program.
A national search to find Bono’s successor will begin immediately.
BONO AT SDSU
|2012-13||5-12 dual record||1 NCAA qualifier|
|2013-14||6-8 dual record||3 NCAA qualifiers|
|2014-15||11-8 dual record||3 NCAA qualifiers|
|2015-16||14-6 dual record||5 NCAA qualifiers|
|2016-17||14-5 dual record||5 NCAA qualifiers, 2 All-Americans|
|2017-18||14-2 dual record||7 NCAA qualifiers, 3 All-Americans, 1 NCAA champ|
|Totals||64-41 dual record||24 NCAA qualifiers, 5 All-Americans, 1 NCAA champ|