Five South Dakota State University wrestlers will compete for the titles of All-American and national champion this week at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in St. Louis, Missouri.
Competition begins Thursday and runs through Saturday at Enterprise Center in downtown St. Louis. Television coverage of the three-day event will be available live through the ESPN family of networks, including the ESPN3/WatchESPN streaming platform.
This year’s tournament will run with extra sessions as the first two days of competition will feature wrestlers in the lower weights (125-157) and upper weights (165-285) competing in their own sessions.
Representing the Jackrabbits are automatic qualifiers Danny Vega (125 pounds), Zach Price (133 pounds) and Clay Carlson (141 pounds). Earning at-large selections to the 330-wrestler field were Cade DeVos (157 pounds) and Tanner Sloan (197 pounds). Sloan is the Jackrabbits’ lone repeat qualifier, but has not wrestled a match in the NCAA Championships due to the 2020 event scheduled for Minneapolis was canceled at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This marks the ninth consecutive year SDSU has had at least one national qualifier.
PRE-SEEDS AND PAIRINGS: Tanner Sloan is the highest-seeded South Dakota State wrestler heading into the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, holding the 13th spot in the 197-pound weight class as seedings and pairings for the three-day tournament were announced March 10.
A sophomore from Alburnett, Iowa, Sloan enters the NCAA Championships as an at-large selection with a 14-2 record. He will face 20th-seeded Max Shaw of North Carolina, who has posted an 8-4 record so far this season.
Seeded 14th at 133 pounds is the Jackrabbits’ Zach Price. The Johnston, Iowa, native has a 14-4 record this season and is slated to face No. 19 Chance Rich of CSU Bakersfield, 5-2 overall, in the opening round.
At 141 pounds, Clay Carlson is seeded 15th and completes the Jackrabbit sophomore trio of national qualifiers. A native of Willmar, Minnesota, Carlson holds a 16-6 record this season and will meet 18th-seeded Parker Filius of Purdue, 7-7 overall.
Another at-large qualifier, redshirt freshman Cade DeVos is seeded 18th in the 157-pound weight class. The Altoona, Iowa, product holds a 13-9 overall record and is scheduled to square off against Michigan State’s Chris Saldate, 8-5 overall, in first-round action.
Rounding out the tournament field for the Jackrabbits is senior Danny Vega, seeded 22nd at 125 pounds. An alternate last year, Vega has compiled a 14-6 record during the 2020-21 season. He is scheduled to meet No. 11 Dylan Ragusin of Michigan in opening-round competition.
BIG 12 RECAP: Three South Dakota State wrestlers earned automatic berths to nationals during competition March 6-7 at the Big 12 Conference Wrestling Championship held at BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The first Jackrabbit to punch his ticket to St. Louis was senior 125-pounder Danny Vega, who placed fourth. An NCAA alternate a year ago, Vega recorded a 12-3 major decision over Iowa State’s Kysen Terukina to open the final day of competition. In the third-place match, Vega dropped a 9-6 decision to West Virginia’s Killian Cardinale in a rematch from their quarterfinal matchup on Saturday in which Vega came away with a pin.
Earning his first trip to nationals out of the 133-pound weight class was Jackrabbit sophomore Zach Price with a fifth-place finish. The Johnston, Iowa, native lost an 8-4 decision to Zach Redding of Iowa State in his first match on Sunday, but came back to clinch his NCAA berth with an 8-1 decision over Fresno State’s Haiden Drury.
Making it 3-for-3 in the lower weights for the Jackrabbits was 141-pounder Clay Carlson, who added a fourth-place finish to also earn his first nationals berth. A sophomore from Willmar, Minnesota, Carlson edged Chase Zollman, 2-1, in his first match Sunday, but dropped a 6-4 decision to D.J. Lloren of Fresno State in the third-place match.
Also placing fourth was 157-pounder Cade DeVos, who awaited word on his at-large selection to nationals as only the top three spots were allocated automatic bids in his weight class. A redshirt freshman from Altoona, Iowa, DeVos turned in an 11-5 decision over Alex Hornfeck of West Virginia to begin the day, then dropped a hard-fought, 3-1 overtime decision to second-seeded Justin Thomas of Oklahoma.
Top-seeded Tanner Sloan also had his nationals fate left in the hands of the NCAA Committee after he was pinned by Marcus Coleman of Iowa State to open Sunday. Sloan later withdrew from the tournament due to injury, finishing sixth.
Also wrestling in placing matches on Sunday were sophomore 174-pounder Cade King and redshirt freshman 184-pounder Jacob Schoon. A Brookings native, Schoon came away with seventh place after pinning West Virginia’s Anthony Carman.
King dropped a 6-4 overtime decision to Austin Brenner of North Dakota State to place eighth.
SDSU finished eighth in the team standings.
A LOOK AHEAD: The NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships mark the conclusion of the 2020-21 season.