Jackrabbits’ homestand ends with Air Force

The South Dakota State wrestling team wraps up a three-match homestand against Big 12 Conference opponents by hosting Air Force in dual action Friday night.

Start time is set for 7 p.m. at Frost Arena. The dual will be available for viewing through the FloWrestling.org subscription service.

The 10th-ranked Jackrabbits enter the matchup with an 8-2 overall record in duals after opening the Big 12 slate last weekend with home victories over Northern Colorado (29-16) and California Baptist (39-3). SDSU wrestlers tallied bonus-point wins in 12 of the 15 bouts they won over the two duals, including seven wins by technical fall.

Air Force brings a 2-4 dual record into the weekend, which will also include a Sunday matchup at North Dakota State. The Falcons are in search of their first win over a Big 12 opponent after dropping to 0-3 with a 30-14 setback at Wyoming on Jan. 12.

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PROBABLE STARTERS: The following is the projected lineup for the Jackrabbits in Friday’s dual against Air Force:

  • 125: #18 Tanner Jordan – Sr., St. Paris, Ohio (16-5 overall, 7-2 in duals)
  • 133: #17 Derrick Cardinal – So., Forest Lake, Minn. (16-4 overall, 7-1 in duals) or Logan Graf – R-Fr., Custer, S.D. (3-0 overall, 1-0 in duals)
  • 141: #25 Clay Carlson – Sr., Willmar, Minn. (7-4 overall, 3-2 in duals) or Caleb Gross – Sr., Pound, Wis. (9-7 overall,3-2 in duals)
  • 149: #21 Alek Martin – So., St. Paris, Ohio (12-6 overall, 5-3 in duals)
  • 157: #15 Cael Swensen – So., Plymouth, Minn. (12-5 overall, 7-2 in duals)
  • 165: Tanner Cook – Sr., Ilion, N.Y. (4-7 overall, 1-6 in duals) or Connor Gaynor – So., Mokena, Ill. (1-6 overall, 1-2 in duals)
  • 174: #4 Cade DeVos – Sr., Altoona, Iowa (13-1 overall, 8-1 in duals)
  • 184: #13 Bennett Berge – R-Fr., Mantorville, Minn. (9-2 overall, 5-1 in duals)
  • 197: #5 Tanner Sloan – Sr., Alburnett, Iowa (12-1 overall, 7-0 in duals)
  • 285: Luke Rasmussen – R-Fr., Brookings, S.D. (12-7 overall, 4-4 in duals) or Bowen McConville – Sr., Renton, Wash. (8-5 overall, 1-0 in duals)

Notes: Rankings listed are the highest of either Intermat or FloWrestling rankings as of Jan. 23, 2024

THE SERIES: 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 9-8 count. Air Force won the first two meetings and nine of the first 10 before SDSU began its current seven-match series winning streak with an 18-14 home victory during the 2013-14 campaign.

Friday’s dual will mark the first time the Jackrabbits have hosted Air Force in dual action since the 2015-16 season.

In last season’s meeting, Jan. 29, 2023, at Air Force’s Clune Arena, pins by Cade DeVos and Tanner Jordan in the first half of the dual lifted South Dakota State to its 10th consecutive win, a 26-16 victory.

With the dual starting at 174 pounds, the 15th-ranked DeVos ignited a fast start for the Jackrabbits by posting a first-period fall in his match against Gage Musser.

A 4-3 decision by Cade King at 184 pounds and a 17-0 technical fall by Tanner Sloan gave SDSU a 14-0 lead through three matches. King’s victory was his ninth in a row — all by decision during the Jackrabbits’ dual winning streak — and Sloan ran his personal winning streak to 14 matches.

Air Force got on the board with technical-fall victories in two of the next three matches. First, sixth-ranked Wyatt Hendrickson handed the Jackrabbits’ A.J. Nevills his first dual loss of the season with a 16-1 technical fall.

#18 SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 26, AIR FORCE 16 (Jan. 29, 2023, at U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo.)
174: #15 Cade DeVos (SDSU) def. Gage Musser (AF), by fall 2:22
184: #17 Cade King (SDSU) dec. Noah Blake (AF), 4-3
197: #11 Tanner Sloan (SDSU) tech. fall Calvin Sund (AF), 17-0 [5:00]
285: #6 Wyatt Hendrickson (AF) tech. fall #13 A.J. Nevills (SDSU), 16-1 [6:46]
125: #30 Tanner Jordan (SDSU) def. Tucker Owens (AF), by fall 6:10
133: #21 Cody Phippen (AF) tech. fall Derrick Cardinal (SDSU), 15-0 [5:13]
141: #10 Clay Carlson (SDSU) dec. Garrett Kuchan (AF), 13-7
149: Dylan Martinez (AF) dec. Alek Martin (SDSU), 3-1
157: #19 Cael Swensen (SDSU) dec. Jack Ganos (AF), 8-4
165: Giano Petrucelli (AF) dec. Connor Gaynor (SDSU), 3-0

LAST WEEK: Wrestling on their home mat for the first time in two months, the Jackrabbits opened the Big 12 portion of their dual season with two convincing victories.

No. 10 South Dakota State 29, Northern Colorado 16
SDSU spotted Northern Colorado an early lead, but the 10th-ranked Jackrabbits stormed back with five victories by technical fall and another by major decision to come out on top, 29-16, in their Big 12 Conference dual opener Jan. 19 at Frost Arena.

The Bears got out of the gates quickly, building a 7-0 advantage by winning a pair of matchups between ranked wrestlers. At 125 pounds, No. 16 Stevo Poulin registered a 14-6 major decision over 17th-ranked Tanner Jordan. Poulin, the defending Big 12 champion, raced out to a 7-2 first-period lead with a pair of takedowns and added a takedown in each of the next two periods to seal the victory.

The 133-pound matchup between No. 16 Derrick Cardinal and UNC’s Dominick Serrano was a defensive battle through the first two periods. After a scoreless opening stanza, the 26th-ranked Serrano cracked the scoring column first with a reversal in the second period, then came up with the decisive takedown and added a point for a minute-plus advantage in riding time to come away with a 6-2 decision.

Returning All-American Clay Carlson put the Jackrabbits on the right path with a major decision of his own, posting a 14-3 victory over Armando Garcia. Carlson led 9-2 through one period after recording a three-point near-fall after his first takedown and tallying a second takedown later in the frame.

SDSU then reeled off five technical falls in the next six matches. Alek Martin won 15-0 over Kilian Schultz in a 149-pound matchup that went the distance, while Cael Swensen needed only a period and a half to post an 18-1 victory against Cameron Lucero. Swensen ended his 157-pound match with a scoring frenzy, putting together a takedown and two four-point near-falls in rapid succession to give the Jackrabbits 14-7 lead heading into the intermission.

The second half of the dual got off to a rough start for the Jackrabbits when UNC’s Derek Matthews rolled through a takedown attempt by Tanner Cook and wound up with a quick pin to pull the Bears back to within a single point.

However, the Jackrabbit trio of Cade DeVos, Bennett Berge and Tanner Sloan lived up their national rankings with three dominant performances that all ended with technical falls. The fourth-ranked DeVos started the streak with a 16-0 whitewashing of Travis Mastrogiovanni at 174 pounds, while No. 13 Berge followed with an 18-3 victory in the 184-pound matchup. Sloan, ranked fifth at 197 pounds, continued his dual dominance with a 16-0 shutout of Xavier Vasquez.

UNC closed the dual with its fourth victory of the night as Xavier Doolin notched a 14-7 victory over Luke Rasmussen in the heavyweight bout. Doolin racked up a pair of four-point near-falls in the opening period and added two more back points in the second period en route to a 14-0 lead before Rasmussen mounted a comeback attempt in the final stanza that included a four-point near-fall of his own in the closing seconds.

No. 10 South Dakota State 39, California Baptist 3
South Dakota State wrapped up a successful opening weekend of Big 12 duals with a flourish in defeating California Baptist, 39-3, Jan. 21 at Frost Arena.

Leading 17-3 through six matches, the Jackrabbits closed the dual with four consecutive bonus-point victories. Fourth-ranked Cade DeVos started the streak with a 23-4 technical fall over Justin Phillips in the 174-pound matchup. DeVos registered two takedowns in each of the three periods before ending the match with a four-point near-fall at the 6:09 mark.

At 184 pounds, redshirt freshman Bennett Berge needed only 46 seconds to pin the Lancers’ Nathan Haas for the first fall of the dual.

Tanner Sloan followed with a 17-1 technical fall against Eli Sheeran in the 197-pound bout. The victory by the fifth-ranked Sloan was his fifth in a row by tech fall.

In the final match of the dual, heavyweight Luke Rasmussen gave up an early takedown to CBU’s Chris Island, but countered with a reversal and put his opponent’s shoulders to the mat with a second remaining in the first period for a second Jackrabbit pin.

SDSU grabbed an early 3-0 lead as Tanner Jordan won a battle between ranked wrestlers in the 125-pound matchup. Trailing 3-2 through two periods, Jordan evened the bout with an escape early in the final stanza and then came up with the decisive takedown later in the frame before adding another point for riding time.

Redshirt freshman Logan Graf made his Jackrabbit dual debut a successful one with a 10-1 major decision against Mitchell Neiner. Graf held a 4-0 lead entering the third period before closing the match with a pair of takedowns in the final two minutes.

Clay Carlson and Alek Martin followed with respective 8-2 and 5-1 decisions to push the SDSU lead to 13-0, while 15th-ranked Cael Swensen closed the first half of the dual with a 15-2 major decision at 157 pounds against Chaz Hallmark.

Drayden Morton picked up the lone victory for the Lancers with a 4-2 decision over Tanner Cook in the 165-pound bout. After a scoreless first period, Morton got on the board in the second stanza with an escape and takedown, then fended off a takedown attempt by Cook down the stretch in the third period to secure the victory.

TEAM, JORDAN HONORED: South Dakota State was recognized earlier this month as the NCAA Wrestling Team of the Week following its Jan. 4 dual victory over Michigan.

Individually, 125-pounder Tanner Jordan was honored Nov. 28 on NCAA Wrestling social media channels as Wrestler of the Week.

A senior from St. Paris, Ohio, Jordan knocked off sixth-ranked Patrick McKee of Minnesota, 9-3, in dual action Nov. 26 in Minneapolis. Jordan held a 3-2 lead entering the third period and was able to extend his lead with a reversal and three-point near-fall, followed by a point for a minute advantage in riding time. With his victory, Jordan remained undefeated on the season at 9-0.

In addition, Jordan shared Big 12 Wrestler of the Week honors with Iowa State 133-pounder Evan Frost.

RABBITS RANKED: South Dakota State has been climbing the rankings during the new calendar year, reaching its first-ever top-10 ranking in a Division I team poll Jan. 23, checking in at No. 10 in the rankings conducted by the National Wrestling Coaches Association. The Jackrabbits moved up one spot following convincing victories over Kent State (50-0) and Navy (30-13) Jan. 12 at the Virginia Duals and remain 10th this week.

The Jackrabbits began the 2023-24 season with their highest preseason ranking ever in the NWCA poll with a 12th-placed showing in the initial survey, which was announced Oct. 31. That matched SDSU’s previous high-water mark as the Jackrabbits were ranked 12th for five weeks during the 2017-18 season.

SDSU was one of six Big 12 Conference teams to be ranked in the preseason 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 other team rankings, SDSU is 11th in this week’s dual rankings by InterMat and 15th in team tournament surveys conducted by InterMat and FloWrestling.

Individually, all 10 Jackrabbit starters appear in the first NCAA coaches’ rankings of the season, which were released Monday.

The coaches’ rankings are determined by 14 coaches in each weight class, with two head coaches from each of the seven Division I wrestling conferences making up the voting panel. For ranking purposes, coaches may only consider a wrestler that has been designated as a starter at a respective weight class. Wrestlers must have eight Division I matches in the weight class to be considered with at least one within the last 30 days.

Cade DeVos leads the Jackrabbit contingent with a third-place showing in the 174-pound coaches’ rankings. A senior from Altoona, Iowa, and a three-time NCAA qualifier, DeVos has compiled a 13-1 record so far this season.

Also posting a top-five ranking is returning All-American Tanner Sloan in the 197-pound weight class. With a No. 5 ranking, the senior from Alburnett, Iowa, enters the week with a 12-1 record thus far during the 2023-24 campaign. Seven of Sloan’s victories this season have been by technical fall.

Five Jackrabbit wrestlers are ranked between 12th and 19th in their respective weight classes:
Derrick Cardinal, 12th at 133 pounds (16-4 record);
Bennett Berge, 12th at 184 pounds (9-2 record);
Tanner Jordan, 14th at 125 pounds (16-5 record);
Cael Swensen, 15th at 157 pounds (12-5 record);
Alek Martin, 19th at 149 pounds (12-6 record).
Jordan and Swensen also were among the Jackrabbits’ school-record eight NCAA qualifiers last season.

Completing the rankings for the Jackrabbits were two-time All-American Clay Carlson (27th at 141 pounds), Luke Rasmussen (27th at heavyweight) and Tanner Cook (33rd at 165 pounds). Carlson recently returned to the lineup and is 7-4 on the season, while Rasmussen has turned in a 12-7 mark in his first season as a starter. Cook has posted a 4-7 mark thus far during the 2023-24 campaign.

The next coaches’ rankings are slated to be released Feb. 19.

A LOOK AHEAD: The Jackrabbits resume action with Big 12 road duals Feb. 1 at Wyoming and Feb. 3 at Utah Valley. Both matchups are slated for 6 p.m. Mountain Time (7 p.m. Central) starts.

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