South Dakota State University head coach Damion Hahn announced the Jackrabbit wrestling team’s 2021 recruiting class Wednesday with the addition of six high school standouts who signed a National Letter of Intent.
The signees, who plan to enroll at SDSU next fall and hail from four different states, are:
- Derrick Cardinal, 133/141 pounds, Forest Lake, Minnesota;
- Connor Gaynor, 165/174 pounds, Mokena, Illinois;
- Alek Martin, 149/157 pounds, Urbana, Ohio;
- Roman Rogotzke, 184/197 pounds, Lakeland, Minnesota;
- Bailey Roybal, 125 pounds, Waverly, Iowa, and
- Cael Swensen, 157/165 pounds, Plymouth, Minnesota.
“This 2021 recruiting class is going to forever change the landscape of Jackrabbit Wrestling,” Hahn said. “Not only is the 2021 class filled with incredible wrestlers, this group includes a number of outstanding young men. We are very much looking forward to getting this outstanding class to Brookings and assisting them in reaching their full potential as both student-athletes and young men.”
Cardinal enters his senior season at Forest Lake Area High School as a three-time state champion with a 202-29 career record. A member of the varsity since the seventh grade, he won a 113-pound Class AAA title as a freshman, a 120-pound championship as a sophomore and the 126-pound title his junior season. He reached the state tournament for the first time as an eighth-grader, placing fourth in the 106-pound division.
Named the Minneapolis Star Tribune Metro Athlete of the Year during the 2019-20 season, Cardinal completed an undefeated campaign with a 50-0 record. He went on to earn Fargo All-America honors during the 2020 club season.
An academic all-state honoree and member of the A Honor Roll, he plans to major in exercise science.
Coach Hahn’s Comments: “We are thrilled to add Derrick to our program. Derrick has quite an impressive list of accomplishments earning honors during both the high school season and at many prestigious offseason events. Even more than the accolades, Derrick is an incredible kid from an amazing family.”
Gaynor is a two-time Illinois state qualifier for Mount Carmel High School in Chicago and has posted a 90-25 career record. He was runner-up in the 145-pound weight class at the Class 3A state championships in 2020, finishing the season with a 32-6 record.
In club competition, he won his weight class at 2018 Preseason Nationals, after a runner-up finish the year before.
An honor student, he intends to major in biochemistry at SDSU.
Coach Hahn’s Comments: “A standout from the state of Illinois, Connor has a very unique style that we believe will translate well to college wrestling. Connor is the first recruit that we’ve pulled out of the very rich state of Illinois, and we are looking forward to him making Brookings his new home.”
Martin is a three-time state qualifier who has racked up 130 career victories for the powerhouse St. Paris Graham High School program. He won the individual state title at 138 pounds as a sophomore in helping lead his team to a title repeat in the team standings. Martin, who placed second at 120 pounds as a freshman, was again the favorite in his weight class in 2020 before the state tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He recently won the 145-pound title at the Super 32 Challenge, which is one of the premier high school tournaments in the country. Also a Walsh Jesuit Ironman All-American during the club season, Martin has notched more than 300 takedowns during his prep career.
Honored on a variety of academic teams, he plans to major in either exercise science or wildlife and fisheries science.
Coach Hahn’s Comments: “Alek will always be the recruit that started this extraordinary class. As he was the first individual to commit to the Jackrabbits, we have waited quite some time for the day Alek could make this partnership official. Alek brings with him an abundance of accolades, a tenacious style of competing and is one who fully embodies Jackrabbit Wrestling. His relentless pace and constant offensive mindset will be a fan favorite in Frost Arena.”
Rogotzke has consistently made quick work of his opponents, recording pins in 137 of his 185 career victories. His 137 pins heading into his senior season rank 15th in Minnesota state history, while his 41 pins for Stillwater High School during the 2019-20 campaign are fourth-most in a single season.
The 2020 state champion at 182 pounds, Rogotzke began his prep career at East Ridge High School in the Twin Cities Metro area and has been a four-time all-conference honoree and state qualifier.
A member of the academic all-section team five times and a 2020 first-team academic all-state selection, he intends to pursue a business economics degree.
Coach Hahn’s Comments: “Another outstanding recruit out of Minnesota, Roman brings an electric style of wrestling to our program that will surely excite our fans. Roman’s ability to execute ‘big’ moves will certainly put our fans on their feet.”
Roybal has been a key member for the Waverly-Shell Rock High School squad that has won consecutive Iowa Class 3A team titles, while earning an individual title at 113 pounds in 2020. A three-time state qualifier, he finished his junior season with a 43-1 record and has compiled a 121-19 career mark as he approaches his senior season.
He also has excelled in both freestyle and Greco-Roman competition during the club season, winning numerous age group titles.
Roybal plans to major in exercise science.
Coach Hahn’s Comments: “Jackrabbit Wrestling has had some exceptional individuals make their way to Brookings from the state of Iowa and Bailey is no different. He will make an excellent addition to the already strong contingent out of Iowa. Bailey is a tireless worker with tremendous upside. I can’t wait for him to bring his energy and work ethic to our team.”
Swensen is a four-time all-conference honoree and three-time Class AAA state placer at Wayzata High School. He upped his career record to 184-37 after winning the state championship at 138 pounds in 2020.
He also has been active in USA Wrestling, finishing as runner-up in the 126-pound division at the 2019 Greco-Roman Junior Nationals and placing in the 106-pound class at the 2018 Cadet Nationals.
An honor student, he plans to major in business economics.
Coach Hahn’s Comments: “One word that comes to mind when I think about Cael Swensen is ‘competitor’. With the many successes that Cael has already had throughout his wrestling career, we truly believe that Cael’s best wrestling is yet to come. Cael’s dad, Eric, is his high school coach, and he has put him in a great position to prosper at the next level.”
In addition, Sioux Falls native and Brandon Valley High School standout Isaac Klinkhammer has been accepted for admission to SDSU and plans to join the Jackrabbit wrestling program next fall. He is projected to wrestle at 174 or 184 pounds at the collegiate level.
Klinkhammer, who holds the school record with 59 consecutive victories, has recorded four top-three individual finishes at the South Dakota Class A state meet, including winning a 120-pound title as a freshman in 2018. He has recorded consecutive runner-up finishes, placing second in the 152-pound division last season.
Honored academically, Klinkhammer plans to major in construction management. His father, Tobin, lettered in wrestling for the Jackrabbits during the 1994-95 season.
Coach Hahn’s Comments: “South Dakota State Wrestling works to keep the best South Dakota wrestlers in state. Isaac is one of the premier wrestlers in the area and? has a relentless work ethic. He is keeping the Jackrabbit tradition alive in his family and we are proud to have him as a part of our program.”
ABOUT SOUTH DAKOTA STATE
The Jackrabbits returned to the winning side of the ledger during the 2019-20 season, posting a 12-6 dual record. SDSU placed fourth at the Big 12 Wrestling Championship and had four wrestlers qualify for the NCAA Division I Championships, with three later earning All-America recognition.
The schedule for the 2020-21 season has yet to be finalized.