The South Dakota State University wrestling team wraps up a string of three consecutive duals against ranked opponents, traveling Sunday afternoon to Minnesota.
The Jackrabbits enter the matchup in search of their first dual win of the season after falling to then-No. 11 Arizona State (L, 9-30) and No. 4 Oklahoma State (L, 6-45) the past two weeks.
Minnesota is 1-1 in duals after also dropping a dual last weekend to Oklahoma State, falling by a 23-9 score. The 10th-ranked Golden Gophers’ dual win was a 33-3 triumph over another Big 12 Conference foe, Air Force, in their Nov. 9 season opener.
The Golden Gophers feature a lineup with ranked wrestlers in each of the first five weights and seven weight classes overall, according to FloWrestling. The only potential head-to-head matchup between ranked wrestlers could occur at 149 pounds, where No. 13 Tommy Thorn of Minnesota would square off against No. 16 Henry Pohlmeyer of SDSU in a rematch from the title bout at the season-opening Warren Williamson/Daktronics Open hosted by the Jackrabbits on Nov. 4. Pohlmeyer decisioned Thorn, 4-3, in that match to propel Pohlmeyer into the 149-pound rankings.
Defending 133-pound national champion Seth Gross of SDSU is not expected to wrestle for the second week in a row due to injury, negating a potential matchup with seventh-ranked Ethan Lizak.
Sunday’s match will mark a homecoming for first-year SDSU head coach Damion Hahn, who wrestled at Minnesota from 2001-04 and won NCAA individual national titles as a junior and senior. Hahn was inducted into Minnesota’s M Club Hall of Fame over the summer.
THE SERIES: Minnesota has held the upper hand over the Jackrabbits in dual action, leading the all-time series, which dates back to the 1949-50 season, by a 24-4 count.
SDSU’s last victory over the Golden Gophers was a 23-18 triumph during the 1974-75 campaign.
The two programs met Nov. 17 2017, at Frost Arena, with Minnesota pulling out a 20-12 victory in the Jackrabbits’ season-opening dual. The dual was contested before a crowd of 3,063 – the second largest for a dual in program history.
The Golden Gophers won six of 10 matches, including two by major decision. Back-to-back wins by Tommy Thorn at 141 pounds and Hunter Marko in the 149-pound weight class upped the Minnesota lead to 17-6 with three matches to go.
Each of the Jackrabbits’ three ranked wrestlers who competed in the dual won by decision, including two over ranked opponents. At 133 pounds, top-ranked Seth Gross fended off a late challenge from sixth-ranked Mitch McKee to win, 9-4. Gross recorded a takedown 40 seconds into the match and carried a 5-0 lead into the final period. McKee recorded a pair of third-period takedowns before Gross scored on a reversal and added another point for a riding-time advantage to make the final score 9-4.
The 157-pound matchup featured 10th-ranked Jake Short of Minnesota 14th-ranked Luke Zilverberg for the Jackrabbits. Zilverberg was the aggressor from the outset as he notched an early takedown to build a two-minute riding-time advantage en route to a 5-2 decision.
David Kocer, ranked 10th at 174 pounds, closed the dual with a 6-2 decision over Chris Pfarr.
#10 MINNESOTA 20, #14 SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 12 (Nov. 17, 2017)
184: Owen Webster (MINN) dec. Martin Mueller (SDSU), 6-2
197: Brady Ayers (SDSU) dec. Bobby Steveson (MINN), 8-6 [SV-1]
285: Rylee Streifel (MINN) dec. Alex Macki (SDSU), 4-1
125: #5 Ethan Lizak (MINN) major dec. Connor Brown (SDSU), 11-0
133: #1 Seth Gross (SDSU) dec. #6 Mitch McKee (MINN), 9-4
141: #7 Tommy Thorn (MINN) major dec. Henry Pohlmeyer (SDSU), 13-4
149: Hunter Marko (MINN) dec. Colten Carlson (SDSU), 3-2
157: #14 Luke Zilverberg (SDSU) dec. #10 Jake Short (MINN), 5-2
165: #9 Nick Wanzek (MINN) dec. Zach Carlson (SDSU), 8-5
174: #10 David Kocer (SDSU) dec. Chris Pfarr (MINN), 6-2
DUAL STREAK ENDS: South Dakota State had its school-record 14-dual winning streak come to an end Nov. 11, when the Jackrabbits fell to Arizona State, 30-9. The streak began last Dec. 3, when the Jackrabbits won all three of their duals against in-state foes at the Dakota Showcase in Spearfish.
SDSU outscored the opposition, 426-129, during its winning streak, which included an 8-0 mark against Big 12 Conference opponents.
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, but has since dropped out of the top 25 after losses in its first two duals.
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.
Five Big 12 Conference programs are included in this week’s top 25. Oklahoma State is the highest-ranked team at No. 4, while the other four are separated by five spots as Northern Iowa (18th), North Dakota State (19th), Wyoming (20th), and Utah Valley (22nd) round out the poll.
Other Jackrabbit dual opponents currently ranked in the top 25 include No. 10 Minnesota, No. 16 Arizona State and 24th-ranked Pittsburgh. SDSU and Iowa State are receiving votes.
In other polls, the Jackrabbits are ranked 20th by FloWrestling, TrackWrestling, and Intermat (tournament). SDSU also is tied for 19th in the most recent WIN Magazine Tournament Power Index.
Individually, defending national champion Seth Gross is a unanimous No. 1 selection in the 133-pound weight class, receiving top billing from all major ranking services despite wrestling only once so far this season. 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 and Intermat rankings, as well as No. 15 by WIN Magazine, 16th by FloWrestling and 17th by TrackWrestling. 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. Mueller has been sidelined by injury since the Nov. 4 Warren Williamson/Daktronics Open.
A LOOK AHEAD: The Jackrabbits will have a 10-day layoff before returning to Big 12 Conference action with a dual Dec. 7 at Oklahoma. Start time is set for 7 p.m. at McCasland Field House in Norman, Oklahoma.