The South Dakota State University wrestling team will wrestle at home for the first time in nearly two months, hosting a pair of ranked opponents in weekend dual action.
The Jackrabbits begin the new calendar year with a Big 12 Conference dual match Friday night against 14th-ranked Northern Iowa. Action begins at 7 p.m. at Frost Arena.
SDSU enters the matchup 1-3 overall and 0-1 in the Big 12, while UNI is 1-2 overall and 0-1 in league duals. The Jackrabbits recorded their first dual victory under head coach Damion Hahn in their last match, rallying from a 14-0 deficit to upend Oregon State, 19-17, Dec. 16 in Corvallis, Oregon.
UNI is coming a runner-up finish at the Ken Kraft Midlands Championships Dec. 29-30 in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, a tournament in which the Jackrabbits also competed. Nationally ranked wrestlers Josh Alber (141 pounds) and Drew Foster (184 pounds) each won individual titles.
Sunday afternoon, the Jackrabbits will take on a different set of Panthers as 18th-ranked Pittsburgh invades Frost Arena. Start time is set for 2 p.m.
Pitt comes into the weekend undefeated in duals at 6-0, but has yet to wrestle an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent. The Panthers, who are scheduled to wrestle Saturday at North Dakota State, have already knocked off three Big 12 foes, owning dual victories over Northern Iowa (21-17 on Nov. 17), West Virginia (37-3 on Dec. 15) and Oklahoma (20-17 on Jan. 6).
SDSU last competed at home Nov. 17, when it fell to then-fourth-ranked Oklahoma State.
THE UNI SERIES: South Dakota State has found the going tough in its history against Northern Iowa, with the Panthers holding a 38-5-1 advantage in a dual series that dates back to the 1953-54 season. Both SDSU and Northern Iowa competed in the North Central Conference at the Division II level, with the series resuming during the 2004-05 season after a 20-year hiatus when the Jackrabbits joined UNI at the Division I level and both squads competed in the Western Wrestling Conference.
UNI competed in the Mid-America Conference for five seasons (2013-17) before gaining affiliate membership in the Big 12 Conference prior to the start of the 2017-18 campaign.
Last season, the Jackrabbits ended a 21-dual losing streak to UNI by claiming a 22-16 victory at Frost Arena on Jan. 21, 2018. Prior to that victory, the Jackrabbits’ last win in the series was a 21-19 triumph during the 1972-73 season.
In last season’s dual, SDSU jumped out to a 12-0 lead after consecutive pins by Connor Brown and Seth Gross. The Jackrabbits also received a major decision from 157-pounder Luke Zilverberg and decisions from Logan Peterson (165 pounds) and Nate Rotert (197 pounds) en route to the win.
#15 South Dakota State 22, #11 Northern Iowa 16 (Jan. 21, 2018)
125: Connor Brown (SDSU) def. #18 Jay Schwarm (UNI), by fall 3:23
133: #1 Seth Gross (SDSU) def. Jack Wagner (UNI), by fall 1:32
141: #9 Josh Alber (UNI) dec. Henry Pohlmeyer (SDSU), 9-2
149: #7 Max Thomsen (UNI) major dec. Colten Carlson (SDSU), 15-1
157: #10 Luke Zilverberg (SDSU) major dec. Logan Ryan (UNI), 15-1
165: Logan Peterson (SDSU) dec. Isaiah Patton (UNI), 4-2
174: #7 Taylor Lujan (UNI) dec. #9 David Kocer (SDSU), 3-1
184: #10 Drew Foster (UNI) dec. Martin Mueller (SDSU), 8-4
197: #11 Nate Rotert (SDSU) dec. #15 Jacob Holschlag (UNI), 5-1
285: Carter Isley (UNI) dec. Alex Macki (SDSU), 3-1
THE PITT SERIES: Sunday’s dual will mark only the second time South Dakota State and Pittsburgh have met on the wrestling mat. The Jackrabbits opened the series with a 25-13 road win on Feb. 9, 2018, extending their dual winning streak to 12.
Pitt pulled to within 14-13 with two bouts to go, but the Jackrabbits turned the Panthers away thanks to a technical fall at 133 pounds by Seth Gross and a pin by Henry Pohlmeyer in the 141-pound matchup. Luke Zilverberg (157 pounds) and David Kocer (174 pounds) each posted major decisions for SDSU.
#12 South Dakota State 25, Pittsburgh 13 (Feb. 9, 2018)
149: Robert Lee (Pitt) dec. Colten Carlson (SDSU), 10-3
157: #14 Luke Zilverberg (SDSU) major dec. Taleb Rahmani (Pitt), 10-2
165: Jake Wentzel (Pitt) major dec. Logan Peterson (SDSU), 12-2
174: #12 David Kocer (SDSU) major dec. Tommy O’Brien (Pitt), 15-3
184: Martin Mueller (SDSU) dec. Gregg Harvey (Pitt), 9-7
197: #11 Nate Rotert (SDSU) dec. Zach Bruce (Pitt), 4-3
285: Ryan Solomon (Pitt) dec. Alex Macki (SDSU), 7-0
125: L.J. Bentley (Pitt) dec. Connor Brown (SDSU), 5-2
133: #1 Seth Gross (SDSU) tech. fall #10 Dom Forys (Pitt), 16-0 [3:20]
141: Henry Pohlmeyer (SDSU) def. Nick Zanetta (Pitt), by fall 5:36
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, including Wyoming at No. 12 and Northern Iowa at 14th. The other three ranked teams appear consecutively in the form of Iowa State (21st), Utah Valley (22nd) and North Dakota State (23rd).
Other Jackrabbit dual opponents currently ranked in the top 25 include No. 8 Minnesota, No. 16 Arizona State and 18th-ranked Pittsburgh.
In additional polls, the Jackrabbits are tied for 19th in the tournament rankings by TrackWrestling, along with a 20th-place ranking from FloWrestling. SDSU also is ranked 21st by The Open Mat and 22nd by Intermat.
Individually, defending national champion Seth Gross holds a near-unanimous No. 1 selection in the 133-pound weight class, receiving top billing from all major ranking services – with the exception of WIN Magazine – despite wrestling only once so far this season due to injury. 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. 16 in the TrackWrestling rankings, followed by rankings of 17th (Intermat), 19th (The Open Mat) and 20th (WIN Magazine, FloWrestling). 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 has moved up to the 197 weight class during his junior campaign.
A LOOK AHEAD: The Jackrabbits will be back on the road for Big 12 Conference dual action Jan. 20 at Fresno State. Start time for the Sunday matinee is set for 2 p.m. Pacific Time (4 p.m. Central) at Save Mart Center in Fresno, California.
Next home action for SDSU is Jan. 31 versus Utah Valley State.