SDSU, Michigan meet at The Pentagon

The 15th-ranked South Dakota State wrestling team begins a two-month stretch of dual meets Thursday night as it makes the short trip to Sioux Falls for a neutral-site matchup against sixth-ranked Michigan.

Start time is set for 7 p.m. at the Sanford Pentagon. The dual is slated to be televised by Midco Sports and streamed at MidcoSportsPlus.com, with Jay Elsen calling the play-by-play and former Jackrabbit wrestler Toby Bryant providing color commentary.

The Jackrabbits, who have their entire starting lineup ranked nationally for the first time in program history, enter the meet with a 3-2 overall record in duals, but are in search of their first victory of the season over a Division I opponent. After a 3-0 start versus lower-division opponents at the season-opening Dakota Showcase on Nov. 17, SDSU dropped a pair of road duals against ranked Division I opponents.

Michigan is 2-0 so far this season, but the Wolverines haven’t wrestled a dual meet since posting a 27-14 victory at Rider on Nov. 19.

Both squads recorded top-10 team finishes at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational in early December; Michigan placed eighth, with the Jackrabbits earning 10th place behind an individual title at 174 pounds by Cade DeVos.

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PROBABLE STARTERS: Following is the Jackrabbits’ projected starting lineup for Thursday’s dual:

  • 125: #18 Tanner Jordan • Sr., St. Paris, Ohio (12-4 overall, 3-1 in duals)
  • 133: #15 Derrick Cardinal • So., Forest Lake, Minn. (13-3 overall, 4-0 in duals)
  • 141: #14 Clay Carlson • Sr., Willmar, Minn. (2-2 overall, 0-0 in duals) or Caleb Gross • Sr., Pound, Wis. (9-6 overall, 3-2 in duals)
  • 149: #18 Alek Martin • So., St. Paris, Ohio (8-5 overall, 1-2 in duals) or Daniel Kimball • Sr., Buckingham, Iowa (14-4 overall, 1-0 in duals)
  • 157: #16 Cael Swensen • So., Plymouth, Minn. (7-5 overall, 2-2 in duals) or Moses Espinoza-Owens • Fr., Woods Cross, Utah (6-6 overall, 0-0 in duals)
  • 165: #27 Tanner Cook • Sr., Ilion, N.Y. (3-3 overall, 0-2 in duals) or Marcus Espinoza-Owens • Fr., Woods Cross, Utah (6-7 overall, 0-0 in duals)
  • 174: #3 Cade DeVos • Sr., Altoona, Iowa (9-0 overall, 4-0 in duals)
  • 184: #26 Bennett Berge • R-Fr., Mantorville, Minn. (4-2 overall, 0-1 in duals)
  • 197: #5 Tanner Sloan • Sr., Alburnett, Iowa (8-1 overall, 3-0 in duals)
  • 285: #33 Luke Rasmussen • R-Fr., Brookings, S.D. (10-4 overall, 2-1 in duals) or Bowen McConville • Sr., Renton, Wash. (8-5 overall, 1-0 in duals)

Note: Rankings listed are highest of either Intermat or FloWrestling rankings as of Jan. 3, 2024

THE SERIES: Thursday’s matchup will mark the first-ever dual meet between South Dakota State and Michigan.

The Jackrabbits will be wrestling a ranked opponent from the Big Ten Conference for the third time this season after squaring off at 13th-ranked Minnesota on Nov. 26 (L, 13-19) and at then-No. 8 Nebraska on Dec. 16 (L, 17-21).

SDSU’s last dual win over a Big Ten opponent was a 28-6 victory over Maryland at the Virginia Duals on Jan. 15, 2022.

AT THE PENTAGON: The Jackrabbit wrestling team will be making its first appearance at the Sanford Pentagon in more than four years when it takes to the mat Thursday against Michigan.

SDSU made at least one appearance at the Sanford Pentagon every year between the 2013-14 and 2019-20 seasons, compiling an 11-2 dual record. The venue was the site of the Dakota Showcase for three consecutive seasons (2016-18) and most recently hosted a Jackrabbit wrestling dual on Nov. 15, 2019, when Binghamton upended SDSU, 25-16.

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 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.

Following their recent dual loss at Nebraska, the Jackrabbits dropped one spot to No. 15 in the latest coaches’ poll.

In other team rankings, SDSU is 13th in this week’s dual rankings by InterMat and 15th in team tournament surveys conducted by both InterMat and FloWrestling.

Individually, all 10 Jackrabbit starters are ranked in the most recent InterMat rankings after 149-pounder Alek Martin and heavyweight Luke Rasmussen joined the group following strong showings at last weekend’s Soldier Salute.

Highlighting the rankings is senior Cade DeVos, who is ranked third by FloWrestling and fourth by InterMat. DeVos, who won the 174-pound title at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational to open the month, is undefeated on the season with a 9-0 record.

Following is the list of Jackrabbits in the most recent individual rankings:

125: Tanner Jordan (18th by FloWrestling/18th by InterMat)
133: Derrick Cardinal (15th by FloWrestling/16th by FloWrestling)
141: Clay Carlson (14th by InterMat/23rd by FloWrestling)
149: Alek Martin (18th by InterMat)
157: Cael Swensen (16th by InterMat/17th by FloWrestling)
165: Tanner Cook (27th by FloWrestling/33rd by InterMat)
174: Cade DeVos (3rd by FloWrestling/4th by InterMat)
184: Bennett Berge (26th by InterMat/28th by FloWrestling)
197: Tanner Sloan (5th by FloWrestling/6th by InterMat)
285: Luke Rasmussen (33rd by InterMat)

A LOOK AHEAD: The Jackrabbits are scheduled to compete Jan. 12-13 at the Virginia Duals, marking the third season in a row SDSU has made the trip to Hampton, Virginia. SDSU is slated to wrestle three duals in the two-day event, with the schedule as follows:
Friday, Jan. 12 vs. Kent State, 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Saturday, Jan. 13 vs. Virginia, noon ET; vs. Navy, 1:30 p.m. ET

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