Jackrabbits make history in Cleveland

CLEVELAND – On a historic night for the South Dakota State University wrestling team, Seth Gross earned his second consecutive trip to the 133-pound finals and Luke Zilverberg and David Kocer each secured All-America honors at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships.

A junior from Apple Valley, Minnesota, the top-seeded Gross needed overtime to defeat unseeded Tariq Wilson of North Carolina State by fall. Gross trailed 4-1 early in the semifinal match before rallying to take a 7-4 lead thanks to a reversal at the end of the opening period and four-point near-fall midway through the second stanza.

Wilson, however, tallied three takedowns in a little over a minute to force overtime at 10-all after Gross built up a minute-plus of riding time. Gross fought off a shot from Wilson and put his opponent on his back for a pin 18 seconds into the sudden-victory period for his 28th win of the season.

sdsulogoGross will meet second-seeded Stevan Micic of Michigan in Saturday night’s title bout. Gross defeated Micic, 7-1, in an exhibition match at the NWCA All-Star Classic in early November.

To open the day, Gross earned a 7-3 decision over eighth-seeded Montorie Bridges of Wyoming.

Moments after Gross’ victory, 157-pounder Luke Zilverberg became the second Jackrabbit to attain All-America status by outlasting Kennedy Monday of North Carolina, 6-5. A senior from Belle Plaine, Minnesota, Zilverberg built a 4-1 lead entering the third period. The two wrestlers traded reversals before Monday came up with another reversal to pull to within 6-5, but couldn’t come up with a turn before time expired.

Zilverberg later dropped a 6-0 decision to Nebraska’s Tyler Berger and will wrestle for seventh place Saturday morning. His opponent for his final collegiate match will be fourth-seeded Josh Shields of Arizona State, who Zilverberg defeated in the Round of 16 on Thursday. Zilverberg will again be in search of career victory No. 100 in his final collegiate match.

In his first match of the day, Zilverberg dropped an 8-5 decision to fifth-seeded Alec Pantaleo of Michigan in quarterfinal action.

David Kocer put together a three-match winning streak on Friday to join his older brother, Alex, in the list of Jackrabbit All-Americans at the Division I level. After winning 5-3 over Wisconsin’s Ryan Christensen and 8-0 versus Josef Johnson of Harvard in Friday’s first session at 174 pounds, Kocer squared off against eighth-seeded Jadaen Bernstein of Navy in the evening session. Trailing 4-2 in the waning seconds, the 11th-seeded Kocer was awarded an escape and earned the tying point via riding time to send the match into overtime.

The Jackrabbits made it 2-0 in extra sessions as, after a scoreless minute in overtime, Kocer successfully rode from the top position in the first half of the tiebreaker, then came up with an escape from the bottom to pull out a 5-4 victory to become SDSU’s third All-American of the tournament.

Kocer’s winning streak ended with an 8-0 loss to fourth-seeded Jordan Kutler of Lehigh later in the evening session. Kocer is slated to wrestle 13th-seeded Jacobe Smith of Oklahoma State in the seventh-place match Saturday morning in his collegiate finale.

SDSU 197-pounder Nate Rotert also won both of his first two matches Friday to move into contention for All-America honors. The senior from Spearfish downed Army’s Rocco Caywood, 9-3, before winning another hard-fought contest against longtime rival Jake Smith of West Virginia, 4-3.

In the night session, the Spearfish native’s storied career came to an end with a 9-5 loss to sixth-seeded Willie Miklus of Missouri. A four-time NCAA qualifier, Rotert finished his career with 99 victories.

As a team, the Jackrabbits moved up two spots in the team standings into a tie for 10th place with Arizona State with 37 points. Defending champion Penn State took over the team lead with 120.5 points, followed by Ohio State (109.5) and Iowa (86.5). Michigan (73.5) and North Carolina State (69.5) round out the top five teams.

Placing matches begin at 11 a.m. Eastern Time (10 a.m. Central) Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena, with coverage on ESPNU. The championship matches are slated to start at 8 p.m. Eastern (7 p.m. Central) and will be televised on ESPN2.

Following are SDSU’s complete results from the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships:

125: Connor Brown, Fr., Oak Grove, Mo. (1-2 record)
* lost to #14 Luke Welch (Purdue), by dec., 5-10
* dec. Alonzo Allen (Chattanooga), 16-11
* lost to #13 Zeke Moisey (West Virginia), by dec., 4-10
Brown eliminated – ends season with 23-16 overall record

133: #1 Seth Gross, Jr., Apple Valley, Minn. (4-0 record)
* major dec. Matthew Schmitt (West Virginia), 15-2
* major dec. #16 Mitch McKee (Minnesota), 13-5
* dec. #8 Montorie Bridges (Wyoming), 7-3
* def. Tariq Wilson (North Carolina State), by fall 7:18
* vs. #2 Stevan Micic (Michigan)
Will wrestle for national championship – 28-1 overall record

141: Henry Pohlmeyer, So., Johnston, Iowa (1-2 record)
* lost to #11 Michael Carr (Illinois), by dec., 1-8
* def. Evan Cheek (Cleveland State), by fall 5:49
* lost to #5 Kevin Jack (North Carolina State), by major dec., 0-8
Pohlmeyer eliminated – ends season with 23-11 overall record

157: #13 Luke Zilverberg, Sr., Belle Plaine, Minn. (3-2 record)
* dec. Justin Staudenmayer (Brown), 6-1
* dec. #4 Josh Shields (Arizona State), 9-6
* lost to #5 Alec Pantaleo (Michigan), by dec., 5-8
* dec. Kennedy Monday (North Carolina), 6-5
* lost to #8 Tyler Berger (Nebraska), by dec., 0-6
Will wrestle for seventh place – 30-10 overall record

174: #11 David Kocer, Sr., Wagner, S.D. (4-2 record)
* dec. Kimball Bastian (Utah Valley), 3-1
* lost to #6 Bo Jordan (Ohio State), by major dec., 3-11
* dec. Ryan Christensen (Wisconsin), 5-3
* major dec. Josef Johnson (Harvard), 8-0
* dec. #8 Jadaen Bernstein (Navy), 5-4 [TB-1]
* lost to #4 Jordan Kutler (Lehigh), by major dec., 0-8
Will wrestle for seventh place – 27-8 overall record

184: Martin Mueller, So., Rapid City, S.D. (0-2 record)
* lost to #1 Bo Nickal (Penn State), by major dec., 4-16
* lost to Kayne MacCallum (Eastern Michigan), by dec., 3-4
Mueller eliminated – ends season with 23-8 overall record

197: #8 Nate Rotert, Sr., Spearfish, S.D. (3-2 record)
* dec. Hunter Ritter (Wisconsin), 6-2
* lost to Kyle Conel (Kent State), by dec., 2-8
* dec. Rocco Caywood (Army), 9-3
* dec. Jake Smith (West Virginia), 4-3
* lost to #6 Willie Miklus (Missouri), by dec., 5-9
Rotert eliminated – ends season with 28-5 overall record

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