Jacks start dual season, host open

The South Dakota State University wrestling team will compete in a pair of events on South Dakota soil this weekend as it continues the early portion of its 2019-20 schedule.

Friday, the Jackrabbits are slated to open the dual season in Sioux Falls with a matchup against Binghamton at the Sanford Pentagon. Start time is set for 5:30 p.m. and will be the opening event of an SDSU doubleheader with the women’s basketball team taking on Dakota Wesleyan following the wrestling dual. Video of both events will be available via Facebook Live on the Sanford Pentagon Facebook account.

A member of the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association, Binghamton also is competing in its first dual of the season.

The scene shifts Sunday to Brookings and the Sanford-Jackrabbit Athletic Complex for the Warren Williamson/Daktronics Open. Competition begins at 9 a.m., with video coverage (subscription required) and live results available through FloWrestling.org.

Besides SDSU and Binghamton, Division I squads entered in the day-long event include North Dakota State, Minnesota, and Nebraska. Wrestlers from regional NCAA Division II and NAIA programs are expected to round out the tournament field. About 150 wrestlers are expected to compete in a double-elimination format.

THE SERIES: Friday’s dual will mark the first-ever meeting between the Jackrabbits and Binghamton on the wrestling mat.

SDSU will meet another first-time opponent in UA Little Rock this season, with that dual scheduled for Feb. 2, 2020, in Little Rock, Arkansas.

LAST WEEK: Zach Carlson won the 184-pound division and two other South Dakota State wrestlers reached the finals of their respective weight classes Nov. 9 at the season-opening Bison Open at Scheels Center in Fargo, North Dakota.

A senior from Murdock, Minnesota, Carlson outscored his opponents by a combined 20-1 in three matches to reach the finals. He posted a 6-0 victory over Minnesota’s Caden Steffen in the opening round, followed by an 11-0 major decision over Noah Cressel of North Dakota State. In semifinal action, Carlson recorded a 3-1 decision over Minnesota’s Owen Webster.

Carlson was to have faced Hunter Ritter of Minnesota in the title match, but Ritter withdrew from the tournament due to injury.

Reaching a championship bout in his collegiate debut was freshman 133-pounder Daniel Kimball. The Buckingham, Iowa, native dropped a 6-0 decision against Brent Jones of Minnesota. After receiving an opening-round bye, Kimball advanced to the championship with respective 5-2 and 4-2 wins over Nic Cantu of St. Cloud State and Ryan Ripplinger of North Dakota State.

Also placing in the 133-pound division was fellow Jackrabbit freshman Caleb Gross, who finished fourth with a 3-2 record.

The third SDSU wrestler to wrestle in the finals was junior heavyweight Blake Wolters. A native of Pipestone, Minnesota, Wolters won his first two bouts by a combined 31-4 margin and advanced to the championship bout by winning by injury default against Minnesota’s Chase O’Connor. In the finals, Wolters was defeated, 9-2, by Brandon Metz of host North Dakota State.

Finishing third in the heavyweight division was redshirt freshman Bowen McConville.

Other third-place finishers for the Jackrabbits were Clay Carlson (141 pounds), Henry Pohlmeyer (149), Cade DeVos (157) and Cade King (174). DeVos and King were making their collegiate debuts.

SDSU also had two top-five placers in the 165-pound class as redshirt freshman Kenny O’Neil took fourth, with junior Garrett Jordan finishing fifth.

Rounding out the Jackrabbits’ top-six finishers were newcomers Danny Vega, fifth at 125 pounds, Samuel Grove, sixth at 174 pounds, and Jacob Schoon, sixth in the 184-pound division.

RABBITS RANKED: Jackrabbit wrestlers Henry Pohlmeyer at 149 pounds and 197-pounder Tanner Sloan appear in a variety of national individual rankings entering the Jackrabbits’ first dual of the 2019-20 season.

A two-time NCAA qualifier and a senior from Johnston, Iowa, Pohlmeyer’s highest ranking is 16th by FloWrestling. Pohlmeyer also is currently ranked 25th by TrackWrestling.

Sloan, a redshirt freshman from Alburnett, Iowa, is ranked in the top 10 by three media outlets. He is ranked fifth by FloWrestling, sixth by Intermat and ninth by TrackWrestling.

COACH HAHN: Damion Hahn, who helped build Cornell into a national power as an assistant coach, 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.”

During his first season with the Jackrabbits, Hahn faced a rebuilding task as SDSU featured new starters in six spots in the lineup. SDSU finished with a 3-10 dual record, including a 2-7 mark against Big 12 Conference opponents.

The Jackrabbits ended the 2018-19 season with a 10th-place finish at the Big 12 Wrestling Championship and had one NCAA qualifier in 149-pounder Henry Pohlmeyer.

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 made 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 2018.

THE ROSTER: The 2019-20 SDSU wrestling roster features 36 student-athletes from 12 different states. Of the 36 wrestlers, 10 are from Minnesota, followed by nine who are native South Dakotans. Iowa is represented by seven wrestlers, while two wrestlers hail from New York. Eight states – Arizona, California, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin – each have one wrestler.

By class, five are seniors, four are juniors, eight are sophomores, seven are redshirt freshmen and 12 are incoming freshmen.

A LOOK AHEAD: SDSU is slated to resume dual action with its first Big 12 Conference competition of the season, traveling Nov. 22 to Utah Valley. The dual is set for an 11 a.m. Mountain Time (noon Central) start in Orem, Utah.

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