Jackrabbits ready for Big 12 tournament

BROOKINGS, S.D. — South Dakota State wrestlers will vie for conference titles and berths in the upcoming NCAA tournament during weekend competition at the Big 12 Wrestling Championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The two-day tournament runs Saturday and Sunday at BOK Center. Action begins at 11 a.m. both days, with consolation matches and semifinals set for 5 p.m. Saturday and the championship session slated for a 6 p.m. start on Sunday.

Video coverage of the first three sessions will be available on the ESPN+ (Big 12 Now) streaming platform (subscription required). Sunday’s championship session will be televised by FOX Sports regional networks and also available online at FoxSportsGo.com.

The Jackrabbits will be seeking a return to the upper echelon of the Big 12 Conference after a 10th-place finish in the team standings a year ago. SDSU posted consecutive third-place efforts at the Big 12 Wrestling Championship in both 2017 and 2018, after a fourth-place finish at their inaugural league meet in 2016.

PRE-SEEDS ANNOUNCED: South Dakota State wrestlers Henry Pohlmeyer and Tanner Sloan are each seeded second in their respective weight classes for this weekend’s Big 12 Wrestling Championship. The top eight pre-seeds in each of the 10 weight classes were announced Wednesday by conference officials.

A senior from Johnston, Iowa, Pohlmeyer is seeded second in the 149-pound division after posting a 19-4 record so far this season. His lone loss against a Big 12 opponent was to top-seeded Boo Lewallen of Oklahoma State.

A two-time NCAA qualifier, Pohlmeyer is scheduled to face Seth Hogue of West Virginia in the opening round on Saturday. He leads active Jackrabbit wrestlers in career wins with 73.

Sloan, a redshirt freshman from Alburnett, Iowa, earned the No. 2 seed in the 197-pound weight class following an 18-5 regular season in which he has won 12 of his last 13 bouts. He is matched up against Iowa State’s Joel Shapiro in the opening round.

Also earning top-four seeds for the Jackrabbits were senior Zach Carlson, third at 184 pounds, and Tanner Cook, fourth in the 165-pound weight class. Carlson, who leads the team in victories with a 23-5 record, is slated to receive a first-round bye and will await the winner between No. 6 Darrian Roberts of Oklahoma and North Dakota State’s Noah Cressell.

Cook, a freshman from Ilion, New York, has posted an 18-3 record so far this season with 12 pins. He also is set to receive a first-round bye and will meet the winner between No. 5 Cole Moody of Wyoming and Oklahoma’s Elijah Joseph.

Three other Jackrabbits were included in the top-eight seeds in their weight classes: Danny Vega, sixth at 125 pounds; Clay Carlson, seventh at 141 pounds, and Peyton Smith, eighth at 157 pounds.

Vega is scheduled to face Wyoming’s Jake Svihel in the opening round, while Clay Carlson is set to receive a first-round bye and will face the winner between No. 2 Ian Parker of Iowa State and North Dakota State’s Dylan Droegemueller.

Smith, who was a late addition to the starting lineup, is slated to wrestle Utah Valley’s Jed Loveless in the opening round.

Unseeded Jackrabbit wrestlers included Zach Price (133 pounds), Cade King (174) and Blake Wolters (285). Price has drawn fifth-seeded Todd Small of Iowa State in first-round action, while King is matched up against second-seeded Anthony Mantonona of Oklahoma. Wolters is slated to wrestle eighth-seeded Kayne Hutchison of Air Force in the opening round.

PANEL RANKINGS AND ALLOCATIONS: Five South Dakota State wrestlers remain in the NCAA Coaches’ Panel rankings heading into the Big 12 Wrestling Championship.

Leading the way for the Jackrabbits is senior 149-pounder Henry Pohlmeyer, who is ninth in the rankings released Feb. 27 by NCAA officials. A two-time NCAA qualifier from Johnston, Iowa, Pohlmeyer has compiled a 19-4 overall record and also ranks 25th in ratings percentage index (RPI) at his weight class. Pohlmeyer was an NCAA qualifier at 141 pounds as a sophomore and at 149 pounds last season.

Other Jackrabbits in the rankings include:
Danny Vega, ranked 23rd (24th in RPI) at 125 pounds — 20-8 overall record;
Tanner Cook, ranked 24th (19th in RPI) at 165 pounds — 18-3 overall record;
Zach Carlson, ranked 11th (13th in RPI) at 184 pounds — 23-5 overall record, and
Tanner Sloan, ranked 14th (17th in RPI) at 197 pounds — 18-5 overall record.

As a conference, the Big 12 was allocated 54 automatic qualifiers — an increase of one from a year ago — for the 2020 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, which will take place March 19-21 in Minneapolis. The Big 12, which trailed only the Big Ten’s 79 allocations, was awarded at least five spots in nine of 10 weight classes, with four spots at 165 pounds being the lone exception.

The remaining 47 at-large qualifiers to fill out the 330-wrestler field — 33 in each of the 10 weight classes — will be announced on March 10, while brackets and seeding for the 2020 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships will be revealed March 11.

BIG 12 SUCCESS: Now in its fifth season as an affiliate member of the Big 12 Conference for wrestling, SDSU has proven it can contend in one of the top wrestling leagues in the country.

Since joining the league at the start of the 2015-16 season, the Jackrabbits have combined to post a 30-13 record in duals against Big 12 opponents, with seven of those losses coming during the 2018-19 campaign. SDSU posted an 8-0 mark in Big 12 duals during the 2017-18 season.

The Jackrabbits also turned in back-to-back third-place efforts at the Big 12 Wrestling Championship in both 2017 and 2018, after a fourth-place finish at their inaugural league meet in 2016.

ANOTHER WINNING SEASON: South Dakota State secured its fifth winning season in the last six years with its 28-9 victory at Ohio on Feb. 9. The Jackrabbits have won 11 or more duals in each of their five winning seasons since the start of the 2014-15 campaign.

RABBITS RANKED NATIONALLY: Five South Dakota State wrestlers appear in the final NCAA Division I regular season rankings compiled by a variety of media outlets.

Ranked throughout the season have been Henry Pohlmeyer at 149 pounds and Tanner Sloan at 197 pounds. A two-time NCAA qualifier and a senior from Johnston, Iowa, Pohlmeyer has been the big mover the past month, climbing to top-10 rankings by three organizations: WIN Magazine (eighth), FloWrestling (eighth) and TrackWrestling (10th). He also is ranked 12th by Intermat.

Sloan, a redshirt freshman from Alburnett, Iowa, was ranked in the top 10 by three media outlets earlier in the season and moved back into that position following his victory late in the season against Stanford’s Nathan Traxler. He rose to as high as ninth by WIN Magazine, along with rankings of 10th (Intermat) and 12th (FloWrestling, TrackWrestling).

At 184 pounds, Zach Carlson has moved into all four rankings, including holding the seventh spot the WIN Magazine rankings. A senior from Murdock, Minnesota, Carlson also is ranked 12th by Intermat, 14th by FloWrestling and 17th by TrackWrestling.

Also appearing in the rankings in the second half of the season are 125-pounder Danny Vega and 165-pounder Tanner Cook. Vega, a junior who previously competed at Iowa State, is ranked 22nd by TrackWrestling and 25th by FloWrestling. He posted a 12-4 mark in duals since entering the lineup Dec. 20 versus Minnesota.

Cook, a freshman from Ilion, New York, has solidified the 165-pound spot with an 18-3 overall record, including a 12-2 mark in duals since being inserted into the Jackrabbit lineup at the South Beach Duals in late December. Cook, who has a total of 12 wins by fall this season, is 23rd in the TrackWrestling rankings and 25th in the FloWrestling survey. His 10 pins against Division I competition ranks in a tie for fourth among D-I wrestlers this season.

As a team, the Jackrabbits were ranked 22nd by WIN Magazine and 25th by Intermat in the organizations’ dual rankings. SDSU also has received votes in the NWCA Division I Coaches’ Poll on a few different occasions this season, including garnering three votes in the Feb. 18 poll.

ACADEMIC HONORS: Six South Dakota State University wrestlers were honored in late February as members of the 2020 Academic All-Big 12 Wrestling Team.

Five of the Jackrabbits recognized on the honor squad were first-team selections:
Clay Carlson, R-Fr., Animal Science, Willmar, Minn.;
Colten Carlson, Jr., Dairy Science, Willmar, Minn.;
Kelby Hawkins, So., Business Economics, Groton, S.D.;
Kahlen Morris, Sr., Biochemistry/Human Biology/ACS Certified Chemistry, Sioux Falls;
Blake Wolters, Jr., Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering, Pipestone, Minn.

Earning second-team recognition for the Jackrabbits was Henry Pohlmeyer. A senior from Johnston, Iowa, Pohlmeyer is majoring in political science.

Colten Carlson and Pohlmeyer were honored for the third time, while Hawkins and Wolters were both repeat selections.

League-wide, 106 student-athletes from the dozen institutions that are members of the Big 12 Conference for wrestling received recognition.

First-team members consist of those who have maintained a 3.20 or better GPA, while the second-team selections hold a 3.00 to 3.19 GPA.

To qualify, student-athletes must maintain a 3.00 GPA or higher either cumulative or the two previous semesters and must have participated in 20 percent of their team’s scheduled contests. Freshmen and transfers are not eligible in their first year of academic residence. Senior student-athletes who have participated for a minimum of two years and meet all the criteria except percent of participation are also eligible.

A LOOK AHEAD: The NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships are scheduled for March 19-21 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Following is a schedule of events:

Thursday, March 19
11 a.m. – First session
6 p.m. – Second session
Friday, March 20
10 a.m. – Third session
1-6 p.m. – NCAA Wrestling Fan Festival (Minneapolis Armory)
7 p.m. – Fourth session
Saturday, March 21
10 a.m. – Fifth session
Noon-5:30 p.m. – NCAA Wrestling Fan Festival (Minneapolis Armory)
5:35 p.m. – Parade of All-Americans
6 p.m. – Championship session
Note: U.S. Bank Stadium gates open 90 minutes prior to each session

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