SDSU starts season at Bison Open

The South Dakota State wrestling team will kick off its 2022-23 season Saturday by competing at the Bison Open.

Action begins at 9 a.m. at Scheels Center on the North Dakota State University campus. About 15 Jackrabbits are entered in the day-long tournament, including several who will be making their collegiate debuts.

SDSU posted a 13-4 dual record last season and finished sixth at the 2022 Big 12 Wrestling Championship. The Jackrabbits sent four wrestlers to the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships.

THE LINEUP: Here are the Jackrabbit wrestlers expected to compete Saturday at the Bison Open:
125 – Tanner Jordan, Jr., St. Paris, Ohio (19-17 record in 2021-22); Bailey Roybal, R-Fr., Waverly, Iowa (9-5)
141 – Caleb Gross, Jr., Pound, Wis. (10-15)
157 – Ryan Dolezal, Fr., Marshfield, Wis.
165 – Isaac Klinkhammer, R-Fr., Sioux Falls (did not compete last season); Jack Thomsen, Jr., La Porte City, Iowa (16-12)
174 – Jaxon Bowes, Fr., Brookings; Brock Fettig, Fr., Bismarck, N.D.; Kalen Meyer, R-Fr., Rock Rapids, Iowa (4-11)
184 – Caleb Orris, Jr. Clark (5-9); Roman Rogotzke, R-Fr., Stillwater, Minn. (8-2)
197 – Nick Casperson, Sr., Beresford (13-9); Jacob Schoon, Jr., Brookings (5-5)
285 – Bowen McConville, Sr., Renton, Wash. (13-10); Luke Rasmussen, Fr., Brookings; Spencer Trenary, Jr., Rolfe, Iowa (did not compete last season); Kail Wynia, Fr., Mantorville, Minn.

Bison Open Brackets/Results on

RABBITS RANKED: The South Dakota State wrestling team began the season ranked in the top 25 after being included in a pair of national polls.

The Jackrabbits checked in at No. 22 in the preseason poll conducted by Intermat and were ranked 25th in the initial National Wrestling Coaches Association survey. SDSU was one of five Big 12 Conference programs ranked in the NWCA top 25, joining No. 4 Missouri, No. 10 Oklahoma State, No. 14 Iowa State and No. 20 Northern Iowa.

After a wild opening weekend in college wrestling, the Jackrabbits remain 22nd in the Intermat dual poll, but have dropped out of the NWCA top 25 into the slot of the top team receiving votes in the weekly poll.

SDSU also has seven wrestlers ranked individually by Intermat, with Clay Carlson leading the way with a No. 5 ranking in the 141-pound weight class. Fellow returning NCAA qualifiers Tanner Sloan (197) and Cade DeVos (174 pounds) are ranked 11th and 12, respectively, with heavyweight A.J. Nevills ranked 14th. Other ranked wrestlers include Tanner Cook (24th at 165 pounds), Cade King (26th at 184 pounds) and Gabriel Tagg (29th at 133 pounds).

SILVER MEDALISTS: Two members of the Jackrabbit wrestling team recently earned individual silver medals in international competition.

In August, incoming freshman Bennett Berge earned a silver medal in the 86-kilogram weight class at the 2022 U20 World Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria.

A native of Mantorville, Minnesota, and a member of the Pinnacle Wrestling Club, Berge posted a 4-1 record over two days of competition. He won his first three matches all by technical fall before recording a come-from-behind, 9-7 victory over Ismail Kucuksolak of Turkey in the semifinals.

In Wednesday’s championship bout against Rakhim Magamadov of France, Berge lost a 10-5 decision.

Besides his runner-up finish in his weight class, Berge brought home another silver medal as Team USA placed second in the team standings behind Iran. Berge was one of four Americans to medal in the freestyle division.

At the prep level, Berge totaled 241 career victories, posting a 124-1 record over his final three seasons at Kasson-Mantorvile High School. He won five consecutive individual state titles at five different weight classes (138, 160, 170, 182, 195), capping his senior season with a 52-0 record.

Last month in Pontevedra, Spain, Tanner Sloan reached the finals of the 97-kilogram division at the U23 World Championships.

Sloan, a three-time NCAA qualifier at 197 pounds from Alburnett, Iowa, posted a 3-1 record in a two-day span. After winning his first three bouts, Sloan dropped a 5-3 decision to Amirali Azarpira of Iran in the gold medal match on Oct. 22.

Sloan previously competed at the 2019 UWW Junior World Championships in Tallinn, Estonia, after opening international competition by winning the gold medal at the UWW Pan American Championship in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

COACH HAHN: Damion Hahn is overseeing a successful rebuilding of South Dakota State University wrestling as he enters his fifth season at the helm of the Jackrabbits’ program. Hahn has compiled a 33-26 career dual record and has coached four All-Americans and 14 NCAA qualifiers during his tenure in Brookings.

During the 2019-20 season, the National Wrestling Coaches Association selected 149-pounder Henry Pohlmeyer, 184-pounder Zach Carlson and 197-pounder Tanner Sloan as second-team All-Americans after the NCAA Championships were canceled at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also during the 2019-20 campaign, the Jackrabbits turned in their first winning dual season under Hahn by posting a 12-6 overall record, including a 6-3 mark in the Big 12. Included in the dual wins were victories over nationally ranked Northern Iowa and Stanford.

SDSU also improved by six spots in the Big 12 Conference tournament, finishing fourth in the team standings at the 2020 competition.

Highlighting the 2020-21 season, Clay Carlson wrestled his way to an eighth-place finish at nationals in the 141-pound division. Carlson also was honored as the 2021 Big 12 Wrestling Scholar-Athlete of the Year, an award he would receive again the following year.

In all, five SDSU wrestlers earned a trip to the NCAA Championships in March 2021.

The Jackrabbits returned to the winning side of the ledger during the 2021-22 campaign and also cracked the national rankings as a team for the first time since early in Hahn’s first season. SDSU compiled a 13-4 dual record that included a 21-12 victory at ninth-ranked Missouri, marking the program’s first dual win over a top-10 opponent.

In postseason competition, SDSU placed sixth at the 2022 Big 12 Wrestling Championship and set four wrestlers on to the NCAA Championships in Detroit.

Hahn was hired at SDSU on April 9, 2018, following more than a decade of success as a member of the coaching staff at Cornell (N.Y.).

Hahn’s teams also have performed well in the classroom, earning Top 30 Scholar Team All-America honors from the National Wrestling Coaches Association each of the past two seasons. The 2021-22 squad ranked seventh among Division I programs with a 3.465 grade-point average and six Jackrabbits were recognized individually as NWCA Scholar All-America honorees.

“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.”

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 champs.

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.

A LOOK AHEAD: The Jackrabbits’ season gets into full gear with a pair of home events next week. SDSU is slated to open the dual season by hosting Augustana in a 7 p.m. contest on Nov. 18, followed by the day-long Daktronics Open on Nov. 20. A full contingent of SDSU wrestlers is expected to compete at the Dak Open, with action beginning at 9 a.m. at Frost Arena.

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