Jackrabbits travel to UNC, Air Force

The South Dakota State wrestling team will attempt to stay undefeated in the month of January as it prepares for a pair of Big 12 Conference duals in the state of Colorado this weekend.

The 18th-ranked Jackrabbits, 9-2 overall and 3-0 against Big 12 opponents, open the weekend against a Northern Colorado team that is receiving votes in this week’s National Wrestling Coaches Association poll. Action Friday evening is slated to start at 6 p.m. Mountain Time (7 p.m. Central) at Bank of Colorado Arena in Greeley, Colorado.

The Bears enter the week with a 10-2 overall dual mark, including an 0-2 in the Big 12. UNC split a pair of road duals last weekend, dropping a 24-10 decision at league foe Oklahoma State on Jan. 20, before coming back with a 36-3 nonconference win at Little Rock.

Sunday, the Jackrabbits will move on to face an Air Force squad that is scheduled to wrestle three duals this weekend, starting with a triangular Friday against Snow College and Utah Valley in Orem, Utah. The SDSU-Air Force dual is set for a 1 p.m. Mountain Time (2 p.m. Central) start at Clune Arena on the United States Air Force Academy campus outside Colorado Springs.

The Falcons improved to 5-1 overall and 2-1 in the Big 12 with a 38-3 victory at California Baptist on Jan. 21.

SDSU extended its winning streak to eight matches last week with home victories against Big 12 foes Utah Valley (29-12) and Wyoming (42-3). During their current winning streak, the Jackrabbits have outscored the opposition by a 296-42 margin.

Both of this weekend’s duals are scheduled to be available for viewing through FloWrestling.org (subscription required).

Watch SDSU at UNC | Watch SDSU at Air Force

Also this weekend, the Jackrabbits will send a handful of wrestlers Saturday to Dubuque, Iowa, for the Pat “Flash” Flanagan Open, which is hosted by Loras College. Competition begins at 9 a.m. at the Graber Sports Center.


  • 125: #30 Tanner Jordan • Jr., St. Paris, Ohio (13-10 overall, 6-5 duals)
  • 133: Derrick Cardinal • R-Fr., Forest Lake, Minn. (9-9 overall, 5-5 duals)
  • 141: #10 Clay Carlson • Sr., Willmar, Minn. (14-5 overall, 8-3 duals) or Caleb Gross • Jr., Pound, Wis. (8-5 overall, 1-0 duals)
  • 149: Alek Martin • R-Fr., St. Paris, Ohio (16-8 overall, 8-2 duals)
  • 157: #19 Cael Swensen • R-Fr., Plymouth, Minn. (16-5 overall, 9-1 duals)
  • 165: #14 Tanner Cook • Jr., Ilion, N.Y. (13-2 overall, 8-1 duals) or Connor Gaynor, R-Fr., Mokena, Ill. (2-2 overall, 2-0 duals)
  • 174: #15 Cade DeVos • Jr., Altoona, Iowa (16-5 overall, 8-3 duals)
  • 184: #17 Cade King • Sr., Waseca, Minn. (13-5 overall, 7-2 duals)
  • 197: #11 Tanner Sloan • Sr., Alburnett, Iowa (15-1 overall, 9-0 duals) or Cody Donnelly, R-Fr., Philip, S.D. (3-2 overall, 1-0 duals)
  • 285: #13 A.J. Nevills • Grad., Clovis, Calif. (14-3 overall, 13-0 duals)

Note: Rankings listed are highest of either Intermat or FloWrestling rankings as of Jan. 24, 2023

SERIES vs. NORTHERN COLORADO: South Dakota State and Northern Colorado have been members of the same wrestling conference for the better part of 40 years. The history between the two programs dates back to when both programs competed at the NCAA Division II level as members of the North Central Conference, followed by membership in the Western Wrestling Conference and Big 12 Conference at the Division I level.

In 37 dual meetings since the time the two programs first met during the 1972-73 season, the Jackrabbits hold a 25-12 series advantage. The series has been filled with streaks; SDSU won the first 10 meetings and seven in a row from 1997-2003, before UNC ushered in the current Division I era with eight consecutive wins from 2005-12.

The Jackrabbits have regained the upper hand in the series by winning the last six meetings, including a 29-9 victory on Feb., 11, 2022. Last year’s dual marked the first between the two programs since the 2016-17 campaign.

#25 South Dakota State 29, Northern Colorado 9 (Feb. 11, 2022 • Frost Arena)
125: Jace Koelzer (UNC) dec. Tanner Jordan (SDSU), 5-2
133: #33 Gabriel Tagg (SDSU) major dec. Dyson Kunz (UNC), 15-2
141: #8 Clay Carlson (SDSU) dec. #5 Andrew Alirez (UNC), 9-5
149: Chris Sandoval (UNC) dec. Daniel Kimball (SDSU), 4-2
157: Nathan Moore (UNC) dec. Kenny O’Neil (SDSU), 4-2 [SV-1]
165: #33 Tanner Cook (SDSU) def. Nick Knutson (UNC), by fall 1:23
174: #11 Cade DeVos (SDSU) major dec. Damen Pape (UNC), 17-6
184: #30 Cade King (SDSU) dec. Xavier Vasquez (UNC), 6-2
197: #10 Tanner Sloan (SDSU) major dec. #29 Alan Clothier (UNC), 15-6
285: #21 A.J. Nevills (SDSU) def. Robert Winters (UNC), by fall 1:45
Note: SDSU deducted one team point for unsportsmanlike conduct after 133-pound match
Extra Matches
133: Gabriel Tagg (SDSU) major dec. Dyson Kunz (UNC), 11-1
141: Chris Sandoval (UNC) dec. Caleb Gross (SDSU), 6-0
165: Jack Thomsen (SDSU) major dec. Cody Eaton (UNC), 16-7
197: Alan Clothier (UNC) dec. Nick Casperson (SDSU), 3-2
285: Jacob Seely (UNC) dec. Bowen McConville (SDSU), 6-2

SERIES vs. AIR FORCE: South Dakota State and Air Force first wrestled during the 1992-93 season, and the Falcons have gone on to lead the all-time series by a 9-7 count. Air Force won the first two meetings and nine of the first 10 before SDSU began its current six-match series winning streak with an 18-14 home victory during the 2013-14 campaign.

The Jackrabbits and Falcons last wrestled during the pandemic-altered 2020-21 season, when SDSU pulled out a 24-14 victory at the Air Force Academy. SDSU won six of the ten matches, including bonus-point victories from Clay Carlson at 141 pounds (major decision), Colten Carlson at 165 pounds (fall) and Tanner Sloan at 197 pounds (technical fall).

Sunday’s dual will mark the fourth time in a row the two teams have wrestled on the Falcons’ home mat.

South Dakota State 24, Air Force 14 (Jan. 17, 2021 • USAFA, Colorado)
125: Cody Phippen (AF) dec. Tanner Jordan (SDSU), 6-3
133: Jared Van Vleet (AF) major dec. #13 Zach Price (SDSU), 14-4
141: #22 Clay Carlson (SDSU) major dec. Lenny Petersen (AF), 18-6
149: Hunter Marko (SDSU) dec. Dylan Martinez (AF), 5-3
157: #18 Cade DeVos (SDSU) dec. Parker Simington (AF), 7-2
165: Colten Carlson (SDSU) def. Vincent Dolce (AF), by fall 6:04
174: Cody Surratt (AF) dec. Cade King (SDSU), 7-2
184: Nick Casperson (SDSU) dec. Sam Wolf (AF), 5-2
197: #10 Tanner Sloan (SDSU) tech. fall Kayne Hutchison (AF), 21-5
285: Wyatt Hendrickson (AF) major dec. Blake Wolters (SDSU), 9-0

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 and have maintained a national ranking for most of the 2022-23 campaign.

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 UNI.

Following their strong showing at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational in early December, the Jackrabbits climbed seven spots to No. 18 in the NWCA poll for their highest ranking under head coach Damion Hahn. SDSU slipped one spot to 19th after its Dec. 18 dual loss to Nebraska but moved back to No. 18 following another stellar performance earlier this month at the Virginia Duals.

SDSU also has a season-high eight wrestlers ranked individually for the seventh week in a row, with 141-pounder Clay Carlson holding the highest ranking at No. 10 in the InterMat rankings, followed by fellow NCAA qualifier Tanner Sloan in 11th (InterMat and FloWrestling) at 197 pounds.

Cael Swensen, who is ranked 19th in the 157-pound rankings by FloWrestling and Tanner Jordan at 125 pounds (30th by InterMat) each joined the rankings after their outings at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational.

Other returning NCAA qualifiers Cade DeVos (15th at 174 pounds by FloWrestling) and A.J. Nevills (13th at heavyweight by FloWrestling) have maintained top-20 rankings throughout the season, while Cade King (17th at 184 pounds by both FloWrestling and InterMat) rounds out the list of SDSU’s ranked wrestlers.

COOK, NEVILLS AMONG PIN LEADERS: Two South Dakota State wrestlers enter the weekend ranked in the top 10 among Division I wrestlers for wins by fall this season.

Jackrabbit 165-pounder Tanner Cook enters the week tied for fourth with nine wins by fall against D-I competition. A junior from Ilion, New York, Cook has needed only 15 minutes and 19 seconds of mat time to post his nine falls, with six of those pins occurring in less than a minute. He added to his total with two pins in action Jan. 13-14 at the Virginia Duals, but sat out the duals against Utah Valley and Wyoming last week.

Cook was honored Dec. 20 as Big 12 Conference Wrestler of the Week after pinning 13th-ranked Bubba Wilson of Nebraska in only 29 seconds in dual action Dec. 18. He brings a 13-2 season record and a 54-17 career mark into competition this weekend.

At heavyweight, SDSU’s A.J. Nevills ranks in a tie for seventh place with eight wins by fall. Nevills has recorded his eight pins against D-I opponents in 25 minutes and 38 seconds, adding to his total with a Jan. 22 pin against Wyoming’s Mason Ding.

Nevills is poised to face Division I leader Wyatt Hendrickson of Air Force in dual action on Sunday. Hendrickson has recorded 11 wins by fall so far this season.

DUAL-MEET DOMINANCE: South Dakota State has dominated the upper two weights in dual meets over the last two seasons thanks to the contributions of 197-pounder Tanner Sloan and heavyweight A.J. Nevills.

Sloan, a senior from Alburnett, Iowa, is 20-1 in duals over the last two seasons. Since dropping his first dual match of the 2021-22 season to Michial Foy of Minnesota, Sloan has won 20 consecutive dual matchups.

For his career, Sloan has compiled a 44-4 dual record and has yet to drop a home match. He went a perfect 11-0 in duals during the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season after posting a 13-3 mark as a redshirt freshman.

Nevills, a graduate student from Clovis, California, has turned in a 24-3 dual record since joining the lineup at the start of the 2021-22 season as a transfer from Fresno State. Nevills went 14-3 in duals last season en route to a trip to nationals and is unbeaten so far this season at 10-0.

Sloan holds a 9-0 record in duals heading into the weekend.

NEW FACILITY OPENS: South Dakota State marked the start of the calendar year by moving into a new home with the opening of the 16,000-square-foot Kurtenbach Family Wrestling Center.

The South Dakota Board of Regents approved plans for the project in December 2020 and ground was broken in September 2021 for the $4 million on-campus training facility, which is located on the southwest corner of the Sanford-Jackrabbit Athletic Complex. Former SDSU wrestler and coach Frank Kurtenbach provided the lead gift for the facility, which features four competition mats, plus a strength and conditioning area, locker rooms, team room, coaches’ offices and spaces for academics and nutrition.

“This state-of-the-art wrestling facility will forever change the landscape of SDSU Wrestling,” SDSU head coach Damion Hahn said. “I can’t thank our Jackrabbit family enough for the contributions that have been made toward this endeavor. I would like to make a special thank you to the Kurtenbach family for their vision and support of the project.”

A LOOK AHEAD: The Jackrabbits will take a week off before closing out the home dual season by hosting the Oklahoma schools in Big 12 action. The Feb. 10 dual against Oklahoma State is slated for a 7 p.m. start at Frost Arena, while the Feb. 12 matchup against Oklahoma is slated for 1 p.m. The Feb. 12 dual also has been designated as Senior Day.

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