SDSU to square off against Sooners

The South Dakota State University wrestling team will be in search of its first dual victory of the season Friday night as it travels to Big 12 Conference rival Oklahoma.

Action is slated to begin at 7 p.m. at McCasland Field House on the University of Oklahoma campus in Norman. The dual will be available for viewing live through and on a tape-delay basis on FOX Sports Oklahoma.

The Jackrabbits enter the matchup with a 0-3 dual mark after falling to a trio of ranked squads, including Oklahoma State by a 45-6 margin to open conference action on Nov. 17. SDSU has wrestled most of the season without defending 133-pound national champion Seth Gross and fellow returning national qualifier Martin Mueller due to injury. Gross is not expected to compete in Friday’s dual, while Mueller is on track to make his dual debut in the 2018-19 campaign.

sdsulogo Oklahoma has yet to wrestle a dual this season. The Sooners posted an 8-11 overall dual record during the 2017-18 season, including a 3-6 mark against Big 12 opponents. OU finished sixth out of 12 teams at the 2018 Big 12 Wrestling Championship. The Sooners are led on the mat by freshman Ron Demas, who is ranked 13th by FloWrestling at 141 pounds.

THE SERIES: Friday’s dual against Oklahoma will mark the fifth meeting in a series that began with a 31-2 Sooner victory early in the 1969-70 season. The two squads did not meet again until the 2015-16 season when the Jackrabbits joined the Big 12 Conference as an affiliate member.

The all-time series is tied, 2-2, after the Jackrabbits have won the last two matchups. SDSU picked up its first win in the series in dramatic fashion on Feb. 3, 2017, in Brookings. Seth Gross came up with a pin in the final bout of the night to lift the 19th-ranked Jackrabbits to a 20-19 win on criteria before a crowd of 1,757 fans at Frost Arena.

The Jackrabbits made it two wins in a row by claiming the final three bouts to score a 22-13 victory on Jan. 28, 2018, in Norman. Trailing 13-12 entering the 184-pound matchup, the Jackrabbits’ Martin Mueller gave SDSU the lead for good with a 14-1 major decision over Matt Waddell.

Nate Rotert, ranked 11th at 197 pounds, followed with a 3-1 victory over Andrew Dixon, while Jackrabbit heavyweight Alex Macki put together a big third period that included an escape and pair of takedowns for a 5-3 decision over the Sooners’ Connor Webb.

Oklahoma started the Big 12 era with a 19-13 victory in Norman on Feb. 14, 2016. That victory ended SDSU’s then-school-record 12-match winning streak.

#12 SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 22, OKLAHOMA 13 (Jan. 28, 2018)
125: #17 Christian Moody (OU) dec. #20 Connor Brown (SDSU), 5-3
133: #1 Seth Gross (SDSU) def. Jacob Rubio (OU), by fall 1:40
141: Henry Pohlmeyer (SDSU) dec. Mike Longo (OU), 7-0
149: Davion Jeffries (OU) major dec. Colten Carlson (SDSU), 9-1
157: #16 Luke Zilverberg (SDSU) dec. Justin Thomas (OU), 5-4 [TB-1]
165: Dawaylon Barnes (OU) dec. Logan Peterson (SDSU), 9-2
174: #14 Yoanse Mejias (OU) dec. #9 David Kocer (SDSU), 7-5
184: Martin Mueller (SDSU) major dec. Matt Waddell (OU), 14-1
197: #11 Nate Rotert (SDSU) dec. Andrew Dixon (OU), 3-1
285: Alex Macki (SDSU) dec. Connor Webb (OU), 5-3

BIG 12 SUCCESS: Now in its fourth season as an affiliate member of the Big 12 Conference for wrestling, South Dakota State has established itself as one of the top teams in the league.

Since joining the league at the start of the 2015-16 season, the Jackrabbits have combined to post a 22-4 record in duals against Big 12 foes, including a 15-2 mark over the last two-plus seasons. SDSU’s only losses have been to teams from the state of Oklahoma – three to Oklahoma State and one to Oklahoma.

The Jackrabbits also have turned in back-to-back third-place efforts at the Big 12 Wrestling Championship the past two seasons after a fourth-place finish at their inaugural league meet in 2016.

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 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 Oklahoma State in third.

Five other Big 12 Conference programs are included in this week’s top 25 and are separated by seven spots as Northern Iowa (17th), North Dakota State (19th), Wyoming (21st), Utah Valley (22nd) and Iowa State (23rd) round out the poll.

Other Jackrabbit dual opponents currently ranked in the top 25 include No. 9 Minnesota, No. 15 Arizona State and 24th-ranked Pittsburgh.

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. 13 in the TrackWrestling rankings, followed by rankings of 15th (The Open Mat, FloWrestling), 16th (Intermat) and 20th (WIN Magazine). 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 returned to action last weekend after being sidelined by injury since the Nov. 4 Warren Williamson/Daktronics Open.

CARLSON OFF TO FAST START: Junior Zach Carlson is off to a strong start to the 2018-19 season, posting a 5-1 record through the first month of the season while splitting time at 184 and 197 pounds.

A native of Kerkhoven, Minnesota, Carlson opened the year by winning the 184-pound title at the Warren Williamson/Daktronics Open on Nov. 4. He held off 15th-ranked Owen Webster in the title match to 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.

In the season-opening dual against Arizona State on Nov. 11 in Sioux Falls, Carlson moved up to the 197-pound weight class and recorded a 9-1 major decision over Austyn Harris.

Carlson sufferred his first loss of the season Nov. 17, falling to Oklahoma State’s Dakota Geer in dual action, 12-9, but rebounded by defeating Webster of Minnesota for the second time this year, 8-6, in dual action Nov. 25 in Minneapolis.

Carlson entered his junior season with a 9-11 career record, seeing action at all weights between 165 and 197 pounds.

A LOOK AHEAD: The Jackrabbits will close out their pre-holiday schedule by traveling to Oregon State for a Dec. 16 dual. Start time for the Sunday matinee is tentatively set for 1 p.m. Pacific Time (3 p.m. Central) at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis, Oregon.

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