Jacks return to action at Midlands

Coming off its first dual win of the season, the South Dakota State University wrestling team returns to tournament competition this weekend by competing at the 56th Ken Kraft Midlands Championships.

One of the most prestigious regular season college wrestling tournaments in the country, the Midlands will be contested over two days at Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. Action is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, with the evening session slated for 7 p.m. On Sunday, competition begins at noon, with the championship session set for 7 p.m.

Coverage of the tournament will be available through FloWrestling.org or BTN2go.com (subscriptions required). Updates also will be posted throughout the tournament at GoJacks.com and via Twitter (@GoJacksWrestle).

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SDSU is scheduled to enter 18 wrestlers in the tournament, which also will include a number of the top teams in the country, including the likes of Arizona State, Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin.

2017 MIDLANDS RECAP: South Dakota State’s Seth Gross won the 133-pound title and five other Jackrabbit wrestlers placed in the top eight of their respective weight classes as competition wrapped up Dec. 30, 2017, at the 55th Ken Kraft Midlands Championships held at Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Illinois.

Gross concluded a dominant two-day performance by becoming the first SDSU wrestler to win an individual title at the Midlands. Neither of Gross’ two matches on the final day of competition lasted more than a period. In semifinal action during the afternoon session, Gross recorded a 16-1 technical fall over Dylan Duncan of Illinois.

Facing Buffalo’s Bryan Lantry in the championship match, Gross built a 10-0 lead before pinning his opponent with 13 seconds remaining in the first period. Gross was later named the Dan Gable Outstanding Wrestler as he won four matches by technical fall and two more by pin, racking up tournament bests of 93 match points and 31 team points.

Also reaching the finals was 174-pounder David Kocer. A senior from Wagner, Kocer blanked Purdue’s Dylan Lydy, 13-0, in semifinal action before dropping an 18-7 major decision to top-ranked Zahid Valencia of Arizona State.

SDSU’s two other semifinalists, 157-pounder Luke Zilverberg and Nate Rotert at 197 pounds, fell short in their bids to reach the finals. Rotert lost an 8-1 decision to Penn’s Frank Mattiace in the semifinals before posting a 6-4 decision over Pat Brucki of Princeton to earn the right to wrestle for third place. However, Rotert did not wrestle a scheduled rematch with Purdue’s Christian Brunner in the evening session for medical reasons, ending his tournament run with a fourth-place finish.

Zilverberg dropped each of his two matches in the afternoon session before coming back with a fifth-place finish. A senior from Belle Plaine, Minnesota, Zilverberg dropped a 4-0 decision to Arizona State’s Joshua Shields for the second time this season in the semifinals, then dropped a 9-6 decision to John Van Brill of Rutgers in the consolation semis.

Zilverberg later recorded a 5-0 shutout of Brown’s Justin Staudenmayer to place fifth.

Jackrabbit wrestlers Logan Peterson and Martin Mueller split their seventh-place matches. A junior from Lake Lillian, Minnesota, Peterson placed eighth at 165 pounds. He moved into the placing matches with a 7-6 decision over Brown’s Jonathan Viruet to open the day, but fell 8-3 to Iowa’s Kaleb Young and came up short in a 7-5 sudden-victory decision to Purdue’s Jacob Morrissey.

Mueller, meanwhile, claimed seventh place in the 184-pound weight class with a 2-1 record on Saturday. The Rapid City native began the day with a 7-5 decision over Mitch Bowman of Iowa before falling to Pittsburgh’s Nino Bonaccorsi in the next consolation rounds. Mueller closed his tournament showing by defeating Eastern Michigan’s Kayne MacCallum, 10-4, in the seventh-place match.

As a team, the Jackrabbits tallied their highest finish at the Midlands, ending the tournament in fifth place with 99 points. Iowa claimed the team title with 156.5 points, followed by Rutgers (109.5), Central Michigan (108) and Arizona State (106.5).

A LOOK AHEAD: The Jackrabbits will have nearly a two-week layoff before resuming dual competition with a weekend homestand at Frost Arena. SDSU will host Northern Iowa in a 7 p.m. Big 12 Conference dual against Northern Iowa on Jan. 11, followed by a 2 p.m. matinee Jan. 13 versus Pittsburgh.

Both duals will be aired on FloWrestling.org.

Check out Jackrabbit Wrestling at gojacks.com and on Twitter | Facebook | Instagram.

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