CLEVELAND – All four of South Dakota State’s seeded wrestlers won matches Thursday during the opening session of the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships at Quicken Loans Arena.
Returning All-American Seth Gross displayed why he is the top seed in the 133-pound weight class, defeating West Virginia’s Matthew Schmitt by major decision, 15-2. Gross led only 2-0 after one period before ratcheting up the pressure in the final two periods. The junior from Apple Valley, Minnesota, racked up nearly five minutes of riding time in defeating Schmitt for the third time in five weeks.
Gross, 25-1 overall, will meet 16th-seeded Mitch McKee of Minnesota in tonight’s Round of 16. Gross posted a 9-4 decision over McKee in dual action in November.
At 157 pounds, Luke Zilverberg also turned in a strong effort over the last two periods to post a 6-1 decision over Brown’s Justin Staudenmayer. After a scoreless opening period, Zilverberg recorded an escape and takedown in the second period before adding another takedown and point for accumulating more than a minute of riding time.
With a 28-8 overall record, Zilverberg will face off against fourth-seeded Josh Shields of Arizona State for the third time this season in tonight’s Round of 16. Shields won the first two matchups by identical scores of 4-0.
Advancing in the 174-pound weight class for the Jackrabbits was 11th-seeded David Kocer, who upended Utah Valley’s Kimball Bastian, 3-1. The Wagner native scored on a takedown in the opening period and added an escape in the second period en route to his opening-round win.
Kocer, 24-6 overall, is slated to square off against sixth-seeded Bo Jordan of Ohio State in the Round of 16.
The Jackrabbits’ three other qualifiers – all of whom were unseeded – lost their opening-round matches, but will compete in the wrestlebacks tonight. At 125 pounds, freshman Connor Brown led for most of his match against 14th-seeded Luke Welch of Purdue before falling, 10-5. Brown held a 5-2 lead with about a minute remaining in regulation before Welch countered with a takedown and 4-point near-fall to take an 8-5 lead. Welch later added points for stalling and riding time to thwart Brown’s upset bid.
Brown, 22-15 on the season, will wrestle Alonzo Allen of Chattanooga in consolation action tonight.
Other Jackrabbits competing Thursday were Henry Pohlmeyer, who dropped an 8-1 decision to No. 11 Michael Carr of Illinois at 141 pounds, and 184-pounder Martin Mueller, who fell by a 16-4 count to top-seeded Bo Nickal of Penn State.
Pohlmeyer, 22-10 overall, will attempt to stay alive in the tournament as he meets Evan Cheek of Cleveland State in tonight’s consolation opener. Mueller, 23-7 overall, faces Kayne MacCallum of Eastern Michigan for the second time this season during the evening session. Mueller downed MacCallum, 10-4, in the seventh-place match at the Midlands Championships in December.
In the team standings, SDSU is tied for 20th with five points. Iowa holds the first-session lead with 18.5 points, followed by Ohio State with 17 and defending champion Penn State with 16.
Tonight’s second session begins at 7 p.m. Eastern Time (6 p.m. Central) with coverage on ESPN and ESPN3.com.