Jacks to bid Frost, seniors farewell

The South Dakota State wrestling team closes out the regular season and a chapter in it the program’s storied history Sunday afternoon by hosting rival North Dakota State in the final dual at Frost Arena.

Action is set for 2 p.m., with the eight-member Jackrabbit senior class being honored prior to the dual. Video coverage will be available through FloWrestling.org (subscription required).

The Jackrabbits, ranked 11th in the latest NWCA Division I Coaches Poll, enter the matchup with a 12-4 overall dual record, including a 6-2 mark against Big 12 opponents. SDSU has dropped its last two duals to higher-ranked opponents, falling 31-6 at No. 2 Oklahoma State on Feb. 10, followed by a 21-19 home loss to seventh-ranked Missouri last Sunday.

NDSU holds a 3-10 overall record in duals and a 2-5 mark against Big 12 foes as they have entered a rebuilding phase under first-year head coach Obenson Blanc. The Bison were handed a 32-6 home loss by Missouri last weekend.

Frost Arena has served as the home competition venue for SDSU wrestling since 1973. The facility is undergoing a complete renovation and will be renamed First Bank & Trust Arena when the project is completed this summer.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Following is the projected lineup for the Jackrabbits against North Dakota State.
125: #14 Tanner Jordan • Sr., St. Paris, Ohio (20-7 overall, 11-4 in duals)
133: #18 Derrick Cardinal • So., Forest Lake, Minn. (19-6 overall, 10-3 in duals)
or Logan Graf • R-Fr., Custer, S.D. (9-0 overall, 2-0 in duals)
141: #22 Clay Carlson • Sr., Willmar, Minn. (12-5 overall, 5-3 in duals)
or Caleb Gross • Sr., Pound, Wis. (9-10 overall, 3-5 in duals)
149: #22 Alek Martin • So., St. Paris, Ohio (16-8 overall, 9-5 in duals)
157: #18 Cael Swensen • So., Plymouth, Minn. (16-7 overall, 11-4 in duals)
165: Tanner Cook • Sr., Ilion, N.Y. (6-9 overall, 3-8 in duals)
or Connor Gaynor • So., Mokena, Ill. (2-8 overall, 1-4 in duals)
174: #4 Cade DeVos • Sr., Altoona, Iowa (19-1 overall, 14-1 in duals)
184: #8 Bennett Berge • R-Fr., Mantorville, Minn. (14-3 overall, 10-2 in duals)
197: #4 Tanner Sloan • Sr., Alburnett, Iowa (18-1 overall, 13-0 in duals)
285: Luke Rasmussen • R-Fr., Brookings, S.D. (14-11 overall, 6-8 in duals)
or Bowen McConville • Sr., Renton, Wash. (8-5 overall, 1-0 in duals)
Notes: Rankings listed are highest of either Intermat or FloWrestling rankings as of Feb. 20, 2024

THE SERIES: South Dakota State and North Dakota State will meet for the 72nd time in dual competition when the two programs square off Sunday. NDSU leads the all-time series between the two longtime rivals, 45-25-1, including a 15-7-1 advantage in the Division I era for both programs. The series began with a 22-9 Jackrabbit victory during the 1958-59 season.

SDSU defeated the Bison for the second year in a row last season, posting a 19-17 win at Bentson Bunker Fieldhouse in Fargo, North Dakota, on Feb. 19, 2023. The Jackrabbits won the first three matches and three of the final four to retain the Border Bell traveling trophy. A.J. Nevills’ 8-3 decision over Juan Mora in the heavyweight matchup decided the dual.

Tanner Jordan provided the only bonus-point victory for SDSU, claiming a 9-0 major decision over Ryan Henningson in the first bout of the day at 125 pounds.

#17 South Dakota State 19, North Dakota State 17 (Feb. 19, 2022 • Frost Arena)
125: #29 Tanner Jordan (SDSU) major dec. Ryan Henningson (NDSU), 9-0
133: Derrick Cardinal (SDSU) dec. #33 McGwire Midkiff (NDSU), 5-3 [SV-1}
141: #11 Clay Carlson (SDSU) dec. Gavin Drexler (NDSU), 7-4
149: #16 Kellyn March (NDSU) dec. Alek Martin (SDSU), 10-9
157: #2 Jared Franek (NDSU) tech. fall Caleb Gross (SDSU), 21-6 [4:39]
165: #8 Michael Caliendo (NDSU) def. Connor Gaynor (SDSU), by fall 5:30
174: #14 Cade DeVos (SDSU) dec. Gaven Sax (NDSU), 7-4
184: #28 D.J. Parker (NDSU) dec. Bennett Berge (SDSU), 4-2
197: #9 Tanner Sloan (SDSU) dec. #11 Owen Pentz (NDSU), 8-2
285: #12 A.J. Nevills (SDSU) dec. Juan Mora (NDSU), 8-3

LAST WEEK: Tanner Sloan gave South Dakota State a late lead with a pin in the 197-pound matchup, but Missouri’s Zach Elam had the final answer with a win by fall in the final match of the dual to give the seventh-ranked Tigers a 21-19 victory in Big 12 Conference wrestling action Sunday afternoon at Frost Arena.

Mizzou improved to 10-2 overall and 6-1 in the Big 12. SDSU, which entered the dual ranked 11th, dropped to 12-4 overall and 6-2 against league foes.

The fourth-ranked wrestler at 197 pounds, Sloan took on No. 8 Rocky Elam in a rematch of both the Big 12 individual championship (won by Elam) and an NCAA semifinal (won by Sloan) last season. Elam put the first points on the board with a takedown late in the opening period and chose a neutral start to the second stanza. Just seconds after he was warned for stalling, Sloan caught Elam in a headlock and took the Tiger wrestler to the mat, first on his side and then to his back for the fall in 4 minutes and 38 seconds that brought the crowd of 1,841 fans to their feet.

Sloan’s 38th consecutive dual victory dating back to early in the 2021-22 season gave the Jackrabbits a 19-15 lead.

SDSU’s first lead of the dual lasted all of 33 seconds as fifth-ranked Zach Elam posted a takedown of the Luke Rasmussen in the first 10 seconds of the match and quickly put the Jackrabbit heavyweight to his back for the decisive fall.

The two ranked squads opened the dual by trading major decisions. At 125 pounds, eighth-ranked Noah Surtin of Missouri claimed a 14-6 victory over No. 13 Tanner Jordan, while SDSU’s Derrick Cardinal posted a 14-5 major over Drew Stanfield.

At 141 pounds, No. 24 Josh Edmond of Missouri collected a 3-2 victory over Jackrabbit backup Caleb Gross. Edmond scored on a first-period takedown before Gross controlled the two remaining periods.

Alek Martin, ranked 22nd at 149 pounds, again pulled the Jackrabbits even at 7-all with a 5-0 decision over Joel Mylin.

The 157-pound matchup between No. 12 Brock Mauller of Mizzou and the Jacks’ 16th-ranked Cael Swensen went down to the wire. Both wrestlers scored on escape for a 1-1 score until Mauller came up with the lone takedown of the match with under 10 seconds remaining in regulation for a 4-1 decision.

Top-ranked 165-pounder Keegan O’Toole gave the Tigers their largest lead of the afternoon at 15-7 with a 22-5 technical fall victory over Connor Gaynor.

SDSU then reeled off three consecutive victories to head into the final bout. Fourth-ranked Cade DeVos turned in a dominant performance against longtime nemesis Peyton Mocco, at 174 pounds, winning by an 5-0 decision over the 11th-ranked Tiger.

Bennett Berge followed with a 10-6 decision over Colton Hawks in the 184-pound matchup.

WRESTLERS OF THE WEEK: South Dakota State 197-pounder Tanner Sloan has been honored as Big 12 Conference Wrestler of the Week each of the last two weeks.

A senior from Alburnett, Iowa, Sloan’s first award was presented Feb. 13 after he allowed only one point in his two matches on a weekend road trip to the state of Oklahoma. He downed No. 2/3 Stephen Buchanan of Oklahoma, 4-1, on Feb. 9, and recorded a 4-0 victory over No. 15 Luke Surber of Oklahoma State the next night. The victory over Buchanan sealed the Jackrabbits’ 20-13 dual victory.

Sloan repeated as the award winner with his win by fall over No. 8 Rocky Elam of Missouri on Feb. 18.

Sloan is the second Jackrabbit to earn Big 12 Wrestler of the Week this season, joining 125-pound Tanner Jordan who was honored Nov. 28. It also marks the third and fourth times in his career Sloan has received the award.

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.

Jordan also was honored Nov. 28 on NCAA Wrestling social media channels as Wrestler of the Week for his win over McKee.

In addition, South Dakota State was recognized last month as the NCAA Wrestling Team of the Week following its Jan. 4 dual victory over Michigan.

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. 16, checking in at No. 10 in the rankings conducted by the National Wrestling Coaches Association. The Jackrabbits currently stand at No. 11 for the second week in a row.

The Jackrabbits began the 2023-24 season with their highest preseason ranking ever in the NWCA poll with a 12th-place 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 13th in this week’s dual rankings by both FloWrestling and InterMat, while standing 13th and 14th, respectively in team tournament surveys. The Jackrabbits also hold down the second spot in the NWCA Mid-Major Top 20.

Individually, all 10 South Dakota State starting wrestlers remain in the top 33 of their respective weight classes in either the NCAA Coaches Panel rankings or the first Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) of the season. Standings were announced Feb. 14.

Leading the way for the Jackrabbits is 174-pounder Cade DeVos, who stands fourth in the coaches’ rankings, but second in RPI. A senior from Altoona, Iowa, DeVos enters the week with a 19-1 overall record.

Also ranked fourth at his weight class is senior 197-pounder Tanner Sloan. The NCAA runner-up in the weight class last season, the product of Alburnett, Iowa, is third in RPI after compiling a 18-1 record so far this season.

Redshirt freshman Bennett Berge holds the fifth-best RPI at 184 pounds and is ranked 12th by the coaches. The native of Mantorville, Minnesota, is 14-3 on the season.

In the lower weights, senior 125-pounder Tanner Jordan holds rankings of 14th by the coaches and 12th in RPI after posting a 20-7 record thus far during the 2023-24 campaign. At 133 pounds, sophomore Derrick Cardinal stands 16th in the coaches’ survey and 13th in RPI with a 19-6 record.

Others ranked in the top 20 of their weight classes from SDSU include 149-pounder Alek Martin and Cael Swensen at 157 pounds. Martin, a sophomore from St. Paris, Ohio, stands 19th in the coaches’ rankings and 14th in RPI with a 16-8 record, while Swensen holds a No. 16 ranking from the coaches and is 21st in RPI after posting a 16-7 mark.

Brookings native and redshirt freshman heavyweight Luke Rasmussen remains in the rankings at No. 30, while holding down the 27th spot for RPI. Rasmussen is 14-11 in his first season in the lineup.

Two other Jackrabbits appear in one of the two listings. Clay Carlson, 12-5 on the season, appears at No. 24 in the coaches’ rankings at 141 pounds, but hadn’t yet met all the RPI ranking criteria at the time the rankings were determined. Senior 165-pounder Tanner Cook is unranked, but checked in at the 33rd and final spot surveyed for RPI despite a 6-9 record.

The coaches’ rankings are determined by a vote of 14 coaches in each weight class with two head coaches from each of the seven conferences. 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.

The RPI is a calculation that consists of three factors: winning percentage, opponent winning percentage (strength of schedule) and opponent’s opponent winning percentage (opponent’s strength of schedule). Only matches against Division I opponents at the designated weight class count towards the RPI and a wrestler needs to have wrestled 15 matches to be ranked.

Currently no wrestlers sit atop both the coaches rank and RPI in their respective weight class. With many wrestlers still looking to reach the 15-match threshold to earn an RPI, the top of those rankings looks a little different than the coaches’ rank.

The third and final coach rankings of the regular season will be announced Feb. 29, along with the designated conference allocations for filling the 330-wrestler field for the 2024 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, which will take place March 21-23 at T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

A LOOK AHEAD: The Jackrabbits begin postseason competition at the Big 12 Wrestling Championship March 9-10 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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