Jacks meet Minnesota in ranked battle

The South Dakota State wrestling team faces a fellow ranked opponent for the first time in dual action this season, traveling Sunday to 13th-ranked Minnesota.

Action is set for a noon start at the Maturi Pavilion on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis. The match will be available for viewing through the Big Ten Plus video streaming platform (subscription required).

The 12th-ranked Jackrabbits enter Sunday’s dual with a 3-0 record after opening the dual season by sweeping three duals from in-state, lower-division opponents on Nov. 17. SDSU downed Dakota Wesleyan (46-4), Northern State (33-6) and Augustana (37-9) in matches held at Frost Arena.

Minnesota also holds a 3-0 dual record after posting three wins on the East Coast last week. The Golden Gophers tallied a 37-3 victory at Bucknell on Nov. 16, followed by 52-0 and 37-6 wins over Morgan State and George Mason, respectively, Nov. 18 in Fairfax, Virginia.

THE SERIES: Minnesota has held the upper hand over the Jackrabbits in dual action, leading the all-time series, which dates back to the 1949-50 season, by a 28-4 count. SDSU’s last victory over the Golden Gophers was a 23-18 triumph during the 1974-75 campaign. Minnesota has won the last 11 meetings overall.

In last season’s meeting, Nov. 27, 2022, at Frost Arena, Minnesota closed the dual by winning the final four matches to pull out a 19-16 victory in a battle between ranked squads before a crowd of 1,603 at Frost Arena.

Back-to-back bonus-point victories by the Jackrabbits’ Tanner Sloan and A.J. Nevills gave SDSU a 16-7 lead through six matches. Sloan, ranked 11th at 197 pounds by Intermat, looked dominant in his season debut against No. 20 Garrett Joles. After opening the scoring with a first-period takedown, Sloan ran his lead to 10-0 with a pair of four-point near-falls before ending with a 12-2 major decision.

Ranked 14th at heavyweight, Nevills wasted little time in his match against Keaton Kluever, posting an early takedown before notching a pin in 2 minutes and 33 seconds. Nevills improved to 3-0 on the season with all three of his victories by fall.

The rest of the dual belonged to the Golden Gophers, who reeled off four straight decisions to complete the comeback. Three of the victories were by ranked wrestlers, starting with third-ranked Patrick McKee holding off Tanner Jordan, 7-3, at 125 pounds. Jordan led 3-2 after the first period, a margin that could have been larger as his attempt at back points at the end of the opening stanza was waved off as the horn sounded.

McKee put together a combination of a reversal and two-point near-fall to take the lead in the third period and closed out the scoring with a point for riding time.

After No. 18 Aaron Nagao pulled Minnesota to within 16-13, the Golden Gophers swung the momentum firmly in their favor with an upset at 141 pounds as Vance VomBaur stymied sixth-ranked Clay Carlson with a 6-4 decision that knotted the dual.

That left the outcome to the 149-pound bout, where 17th-ranked Michael Blockhus of Minnesota took on Jackrabbit redshirt freshman Alek Martin. After a scoreless first period, Blockhus took a 2-1 lead on a takedown after Martin escaped to open the second stanza, then added to his lead in the third period with an escape and point for riding time to seal the comeback with a 4-1 decision.

SDSU got out of the gates quickly, winning the first two bouts of the afternoon. Redshirt freshman Cael Swensen notched an 8-4 decision over Sebas Swiggum at 157 pounds, while Tanner Cook came away with a 4-2 sudden-victory decision against Andrew Sparks in the 165-pound matchup.

Minnesota came back to take what would be its only lead until the very end with wins at 174 and 184 pounds.

Bailee O’Reilly got the best of Cade DeVos, 6-5, in a battle between ranked 174-pounders, while 12th-ranked Isaiah Salazar turned in a 12-0 major decision over Jackrabbit newcomer Bennett Berge.

#13 MINNESOTA 19, #25 SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 16 (Nov. 27, 2022, at Brookings, S.D.)
157: Cael Swensen (SDSU) dec. Sebas Swiggum (MINN), 8-4
165: #21 Tanner Cook (SDSU) dec. #27 Andrew Sparks (MINN), 4-2 [SV-1]
174: #20 Bailee O’Reilly (MINN) dec. #12 Cade DeVos (SDSU), 6-5
184: #12 Isaiah Salazar (MINN) major dec. Bennett Berge (SDSU), 12-0
197: #11 Tanner Sloan (SDSU) major dec. #20 Garrett Joles (MINN), 12-2
285: #14 A.J. Nevills (SDSU) def. Keaton Kluever (MINN), by fall 2:23
125: #3 Patrick McKee (MINN) dec. Tanner Jordan (SDSU), 7-3
133: #18 Aaron Nagao (MINN) dec. Derrick Cardinal (SDSU), 6-2
141: Vance VomBaur (MINN) dec. #6 Clay Carlson (SDSU), 6-4
149: #17 Michael Blockhus (MINN) dec. Alek Martin (SDSU), 4-1
Note: Team rankings by NWCA; individual rankings highest between FloWrestling and Intermat

LAST WEEK: The Jackrabbits put together a successful weekend on their home mat as they won all three duals at the Dakota Showcase and had three wrestlers crowned champions at the Daktronics Open.

Dakota Showcase Recap
The South Dakota State wrestling team opened the dual portion of its schedule Nov. 17 by winning all three of its matchups in the Dakota Showcase in convincing fashion.

The 12th-ranked Jackrabbits opened the night with a 46-4 victory against Dakota Wesleyan, followed by respective 33-6 and 37-9 wins over Northern State and Augustana.

Caleb Gross won a pair of decisions and added a win by forfeit to post a 3-0 record on the evening and lead a sweep of the five lower weights in all three duals. The senior from Pound, Wisconsin, tallied an 8-2 victory over Zach Zitek of Dakota Wesleyan in the opener and added a 3-0 win against Braydon Mogle of Northern State.

Tanner Jordan and Brandon Meredith posted consecutive first-period pins to get things started in the dual against Dakota Wesleyan. Both wrestlers also notched a victory by major decision — Jordan’s win was by an 18-6 count over Landen Fischer of Northern State, while Meredith, who wrestled up a weight class in his first match, recorded a 14-3 victory over Augustana’s Jaxson Rohman at 125 pounds.

Other two-time winners for the Jackrabbits were Cael Swensen at 157 pounds, Cade DeVos in the 174-pound weight class and freshman 197-pounder Thomas Dineen. Swensen, ranked 13th at 157 pounds, won a pair of decisions, while the eighth-ranked DeVos tallied both of his victories by technical fall. Dineen won by technical fall versus DWU and claimed his second victory of the night by fall versus Northern State.

Heavyweight Regan Bollweg also won by fall versus Dakota Wesleyan.

In all, SDSU wrestlers combined for 18 bonus-point victories over the three matches — seven by technical fall, four by fall, four by forfeit and three by major decision. A total of 17 different Jackrabbits were credited with at least one victory.

Daktronics Open Recap
Three South Dakota State wrestlers claimed titles at the Daktronics Open held Nov. 19 at Frost Arena.

The Jackrabbits’ three championships came from opposite ends of the weight-class spectrum as Tanner Jordan and Derrick Cardinal were victorious in the lower weights, while Luke Rasmussen earned the heavyweight title.

Jordan, who entered the week ranked 26th at 125 pounds, improved to 8-0 on the season with three convincing victories. A senior from St. Paris, Ohio, and a returning national qualifier, Jordan opened the day with a 12-0 major decision over Brandon Paez of Northern Iowa. He posted another major decision in the semifinals, winning 8-0 over Trever Anderson of Northern Iowa, then won by technical fall, 18-3, against Iowa State’s Ethan Perryman in the championship match.

Cardinal, meanwhile, competed in a round-robin format in the 133-pound weight class and also posted a 3-0 record on the day. A sophomore from Forest Lake, Minnesota, Cardinal knocked off 21st-ranked Julian Farber of Northern Iowa, 8-3, in the opening round. He later secured the title with a pair of technical falls against unattached wrestlers Garrett Grice (18-0) and Julian Tagg (20-2).

A redshirt freshman from Brookings, Rasmussen picked up a pair of bonus-point victories in winning the heavyweight division. After receiving a first-round bye, he turned in a 16-1 technical fall against teammate Regan Bollweg in the semifinals. The championship match against Jose Valdez of Northern Iowa was scoreless after a period, but Rasmussen came up with a quick turn while working from the top to start the second period and put Valdez’s shoulders to the mat to win by fall.

Recording third-place finishes for the Jackrabbits were 141-pounder Caleb Gross and heavyweight Bowen McConville. Falling in third-place matches to finish fourth were 125-pounder Brandon Meredith and Jaxon Bowes at 184 pounds.

Placing fifth were Colin Dupill (149) and Kalen Meyer (184), while Bollweg and freshmen Parker Janssen (141) and Thomas Dineen garnered sixth-place finishes.

RABBITS RANKED: South Dakota State began the 2023-24 season with its highest preseason ranking ever in the NWCA Division I Wrestling Coaches Poll, checking in at No. 12 in the survey, which was announced Oct. 31.

The Jackrabbits also tied their highest-ever ranking in the national poll. SDSU was previously ranked 12th for five weeks during the 2017-18 season.

SDSU, coached by Damion Hahn, was one of six Big 12 Conference teams to be ranked in the top 25. Missouri was ranked fourth, followed by Iowa State in 10th and Oklahoma State at No. 11. Also ranked were Northern Iowa at No. 17 and Oklahoma, which is tied for 20th. Defending national champion Penn State was a unanimous pick for the top spot in the poll.

Besides Missouri (Feb. 18), Oklahoma State (Feb. 10) and Oklahoma (Feb. 9), the Jackrabbits are scheduled to face at least three other teams in the preseason poll — all from the Big Ten Conference — in dual action this season. SDSU is slated to travel to 14th-ranked Minnesota on Nov. 26, followed by a Dec. 16 trip to ninth-ranked Nebraska. A Jan. 4 date against Michigan at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls further highlights the schedule.

The Jackrabbits have maintained their No. 12 ranking so far this season and eight Jackrabbit wrestlers appear in this week’s individual rankings conducted by InterMat and FloWrestling:

  • 125: Tanner Jordan (22nd by InterMat/32nd by FloWrestling)
  • 133: Derrick Cardinal (21st by FloWrestling)
  • 141: Clay Carlson (6th by FloWrestling/6th by InterMat)
  • 157: Cael Swensen (11th by InterMat/13th by FloWrestling)
  • 165: Tanner Cook (11th by FloWrestling/19th by InterMat)
  • 174: Cade DeVos (7th by InterMat/8th by FloWrestling)
  • 184: Bennett Berge (19th by InterMat/21st by FloWrestling)
  • 197: Tanner Sloan (2nd by FloWrestling/3rd by InterMat)

CARLSON, SLOAN SELECTED FOR ALL-STAR CLASSIC: Returning All-Americans Clay Carlson and Tanner Sloan were selected to represent the South Dakota State University wrestling team at the 2023 NWCA All-Star Classic, presented by Cliff Keen, last week in State College, Pennsylvania.

Sloan, the 2023 national runner-up at 197 pounds, squared off against top-ranked Aaron Brooks of Penn State and dropped an 11-2 major decision.

A native of Alburnett, Iowa, Sloan compiled a 27-3 record in advancing to the national championship bout last season, while Brooks is a three-time NCAA champion at 184 pounds who is moving up a weight class this season.

Carlson, a two-time All-American at 141 pounds, ws slated to face Lachlan McNeil of North Carolina, but withdrew from the event due to injury.

A native of Willmar, Minnesota, Carlson placed fifth at 141 pounds at the 2023 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, finishing the season with a 27-10 record.

A LOOK AHEAD: The Jackrabbits flip back to tournament action by sending a contingent of wrestlers to the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. Competition runs Dec. 1-2, with action beginning at 11 a.m. Central Time (9 a.m. Pacific) each day.

SDSU placed third out of 33 teams at last year’s competition. Tanner Cook reached the 165-pound finals, while Tanner Sloan placed third at 197 pounds.

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