Jackrabbits meet Arizona State in Sioux Falls

The South Dakota State University wrestling team will open the dual portion of its schedule by taking on Arizona State in a neutral-site battle between nationally ranked teams Sunday afternoon.

The dual is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls. Video coverage of the dual will be available through FloWrestling.org (subscription required).

sdsulogoTickets are available through Ticketmaster.com or at the Sanford Pentagon box office.

Arizona State is ranked 11th in this week’s NWCA Division I Wrestling Coaches Poll, while the Jackrabbits are ranked 19th. Both squads also are expected to send wrestlers to the Bison Open in Fargo, North Dakota, on Saturday.

As many as six nationally ranked wrestlers could compete in Sunday’s dual, including a potential head-to-head matchup at 149 pounds between No. 11 Josh Maruca of Arizona State and the Jackrabbits’ Henry Pohlmeyer, ranked 17th.

Top-ranked and defending national champions Seth Gross (SDSU, 133 pounds) and Zahid Valencia (Arizona State, 174) also are in the probable starting lineups for the dual.

Arizona State finished the 2017-18 season with an 11-3 record in duals, while SDSU recorded a 14-2 overall mark in duals. The Sun Devils went on to post a 10th-place finish at the 2018 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, with SDSU placing 12th as a team.

THE SERIES: Sunday’s dual will mark the second year in a row the Jackrabbits and Arizona State have met in head-to-head action. The Sun Devils won the first-ever meeting on Nov. 26, 2017, posting a 25-13 victory on their home mat in Tempe, Arizona.

SDSU led 13-7 at the halfway point of the dual behind technical-fall victories from seventh-ranked Nate Rotert (197 pounds) and No. 1 Seth Gross (133 pounds), along with a decision by Henry Pohlmeyer in the 141-pound bout. Arizona State won the final five matches, four of which featured ranked wrestlers, to claim the dual.

#12 Arizona State 25, #16 South Dakota State 13 (Nov. 26, 2017)
197: #7 Nate Rotert (SDSU) tech. fall Cade Belshay (ASU), 18-3 [6:04]
285: #4 Tanner Hall (ASU) major dec. Alex Macki (SDSU), 15-3
125: #6 Ryan Millhof (ASU) dec. Connor Brown (SDSU), 5-2
133: #1 Seth Gross (SDSU) tech. fall Ali Naser (ASU), 19-1 [5:47]
141: Henry Pohlmeyer (SDSU) dec. Cory Crooks (ASU), 9-4
149: #13 Josh Maruca (ASU) dec. Colten Carlson (SDSU), 12-6
157: #5 Josh Shields (ASU) dec. #11 Luke Zilverberg (SDSU), 4-0
165: #8 Anthony Valencia (ASU) major dec. Zach Carlson (SDSU), 10-1
174: #1 Zahid Valencia (ASU) tech. fall #10 David Kocer (SDSU), 21-6 [4:12]
184: Kordell Norfleet (ASU) dec Brady Ayers (SDSU), 8-6

DUAL STREAK: Following its loss at Arizona State last season, South Dakota State went undefeated in duals the rest of the 2017-18 campaign, including an 8-0 record against Big 12 Conference opponents. The Jackrabbits bring a school-record 14-match winning streak into their season-opening dual.

SDSU has outscored the opposition, 426-129, during its winning streak.

RABBITS RANKED: The South Dakota State University wrestling team entered the 2018-19 season ranked in a tie for 20th place in the preseason poll conducted by the National Wrestling Coaches Association and has moved up one spot to 19th in the Nov. 6 rankings.

The Jackrabbits return three national qualifiers from a squad that posted a 14-2 dual record and turned in a 12th-place finish at the 2018 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. Defending national champion Penn State received all 16 first-place votes to hold the top spot. Ohio State is second, followed by Iowa in the third spot.

SDSU is one of five Big 12 Conference programs to be included in this week’s top 25. Oklahoma State is the highest-ranked team at No. 4, with Northern Iowa 14th. The Jackrabbits stand 19th, while Wyoming checks in at No. 21 and North Dakota State is ranked 22nd. Utah Valley is receiving votes.

Other Jackrabbit dual opponents ranked in the preseason top 25 include No. 11 Arizona State and No. 13 Minnesota.

In other preseason polls, the Jackrabbits are ranked 18th by FloWrestling, while standing 16th in the WIN Magazine Tournament Power Index and 21st in the Intermat team tournament rankings.

Individually, defending national champion Seth Gross is a unanimous No. 1 selection in the 133-pound weight class, receiving top billing from all three aforementioned ranking services. Gross posted a 29-1 overall record during the 2017-18 season in making his second consecutive appearance in a national-title bout. He defeated Michigan’s Stevan Micic, 13-8, in the 133-pound finale in Cleveland, Ohio, in March.

Junior 149-pounder Henry Pohlmeyer also appears in national rankings, checking in at No. 14 in The Open Mat rankings, as well as No. 17 in both the FloWrestling and Intermat polls. Pohlmeyer previously was in the 141-pound preseason rankings.

SDSU’s third returning national qualifier, Martin Mueller, was tabbed 16th in WIN Magazine’s preseason 184-pound rankings, but is moving up to the 197 weight class during his junior campaign.

DAK OPEN RECAP: Juniors Henry Pohlmeyer and Zach Carlson won individual titles to lead the South Dakota State University wrestling team at the season-opening Warren Williamson/Daktronics Open Nov. 4 at the Sanford-Jackrabbit Athletic Complex. The daylong event was the first competition for the Jackrabbits under new head coach Damion Hahn.

Both Jackrabbits knocked off ranked wrestlers from the University of Minnesota in their respective championship matches. Pohlmeyer, from Johnston, Iowa, claimed the 149-pound title by picking up a late stalling point to pull out a 4-3 victory over 11th-ranked Tommy Thorn. A national qualifier at 141 pounds last season, Pohlmeyer outscored his opponents by a combined 19-0 in his first two matches, then advanced to the finals with a 4-2 victory over Collin Purinton of Nebraska.

Carlson, a native of Kerkhoven, Minnesota, held off 15th-ranked Owen Webster in the title match to also win by a 4-3 count. Carlson began his tournament run with a 12-4 major decision over Daniel Bishop of Augustana, followed by a 5-1 decision versus Caden Steffen of Minnesota.

Also reaching a championship match for the Jackrabbits was freshman 197-pounder Tanner Sloan. The Alburnett, Iowa, product pinned Nebraska’s Anthony Gaona at the end of the first period in his collegiate debut, then posted a 7-5 decision over Brandon Krone from Minnesota. In the semifinals, Sloan upset 17th-ranked Eric Schultz of Nebraska with a 13-4 major-decision victory.

In the title match, Minnesota’s Dylan Anderson fended off a couple of lengthy takedown attempts by Sloan to come away with a 3-2 victory. Anderson was one of seven Golden Gopher wrestlers to win an event title on Sunday.

Also at 197 pounds, Martin Mueller posted a fourth-place finish for the Jackrabbits. Other placewinners for SDSU included Clay Carlson, fourth at 141 pounds; Zach Price, fifth at 141 pounds; Logan Peterson, fourth at 165 pounds, and freshman Kenny O’Neil, sixth at 165.

GROSS SEEKS REPEAT: South Dakota State’s Seth Gross will seek to repeat as national champion in the 133-pound division during his senior season in 2018-19.

Gross, a native of Apple Valley, Minnesota, has qualified for nationals each of his first three seasons, competing at 141 pounds during the 2015-16 season before making back-to-back appearances in the 133-pound finals as a sophomore and junior.

Last season, Gross was honored as the Big 12 Conference Wrestler of the Year after repeating as 133-pound champion and was a finalist for the Dan Hodge Trophy, which is awarded annually to the top collegiate wrestler. In posting a 29-1 overall record, Gross’ only loss came when he moved up a weight class to take on top-ranked 141-pounder Bryce Meredith of Wyoming in dual action, dropping a 4-2 decision.

Gross’ victory in the 2018 title match marked SDSU’s first national championship – team or individual – in the Division I era, which began during the 2004-05 athletics season. He also became the Jackrabbits’ first two-time All-American at the Division I level.

COACH HAHN: Damion Hahn, who helped build Cornell into a national power over the past decade, was hired on April 9, 2018, to lead the South Dakota University wrestling program.

“Damion represents everything we are looking for in being able to take our wrestling program to the next level,” said SDSU Director of Athletics Justin Sell in announcing the hire. “His success both as a collegiate wrestler and coach, along with his ability to recruit high-achieving student-athletes on and off the mat, made him the ideal candidate. He is a tremendous ambassador for the sport who will work tirelessly to ensure wrestling thrives both on our campus and across the country.”

Hahn spent 12 years as an assistant coach and later the associate head coach at Cornell in Ithaca, New York. During his tenure, the Big Red recorded 11 top-10 team finishes at the NCAA Championships, including consecutive runner-up finishes in 2010 and 2011. He mentored 50 All-Americans, 12 of whom were individual NCAA champions. Cornell also won 12 straight Ivy League dual championships and 11 consecutive Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association team titles.

In accepting his first head coaching position, Hahn makes a return to the Midwest. As a collegiate wrestler at Minnesota, Hahn won NCAA individual national titles as a junior and senior. A four-time All-American, he also was a three-time Big 10 individual champion and was named the Jesse Owens Big 10 Male Athlete of the Year in 2004. The Golden Gophers won team NCAA championships during both his freshman and sophomore seasons. He finished his collegiate career with a 118-21 record.

Hahn was inducted into the University of Minnesota’s M Club Hall of Fame in the summer of 2018.

Assisting Hahn are Cam Simaz, Cody Caldwell and Chris Dardanes. Simaz and Dardanes are new additions to the coaching staff, while Caldwell returned for his second year with the Jackrabbits.

Simaz was a three-time NCAA finalist at Cornell, where he wrestled under Hahn’s direction. He was the 197-pound national title as a senior in 2012. Dardanes was a three-time All-American at Minnesota and Caldwell earned a trip to the national meet in 2014.

ROTERT TAKES ON NEW ROLE: Former South Dakota State University standout Nate Rotert has continued his long association with the Jackrabbit wrestling team by joining the staff as recruiting coordinator in August.

“Nate has been an integral part to the success of our program and exudes all that is SDSU,” head coach Damion Hahn said. “He will help with our recruiting efforts immensely, and I am proud to bring him aboard.”

A Spearfish native, Rotert was a four-time NCAA qualifier at 197 pounds while wrestling at SDSU from 2015-18, helping spark the Jackrabbits into a nationally ranked program. He compiled a 99-37 career record, including a 50-14 mark in duals. Rotert won a Big 12 Conference individual title en route to a 28-5 mark his senior season.

THE ROSTER: The 2018-19 SDSU wrestling roster features 28 student-athletes from nine different states. Of the 28 wrestlers, 11 are from Minnesota, followed by seven who are native South Dakotan. Iowa is represented by three wrestlers, while two wrestlers hail from California. Five states – Missouri, New York, Ohio, Texas, and Washington – each have one wrestler.

By class, two are seniors, six are juniors, four are sophomores, seven are redshirt freshmen and nine are true freshmen.

A LOOK AHEAD: The Jackrabbits are slated to open the home portion of their dual schedule by hosting fourth-ranked Oklahoma State on Nov. 17. The dual, which follows SDSU’s home football game against in-state rival South Dakota, is set for 6:30 p.m. at Frost Arena.

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