Jacks send eight to NCAA Championships

For the second year in a row, South Dakota State will send a program-record eight wrestlers to the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships.

The 2024 edition of the national tournament runs Thursday through Saturday at T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Missouri. The ESPN family of networks will provide video coverage of the entire tournament.

Of SDSU’s eight qualifiers, five are making at least their second consecutive trip to the NCAA Championships, including five-time qualifier and 2023 runner-up Tanner Sloan at 197 pounds and two-time All-American Clay Carlson at 141 pounds. Tanner Jordan (125 pounds), Cael Swensen (157 pounds), and Cade DeVos (174 pounds) also return to national competition.

Earning nationals berths for the first time were Derrick Cardinal (133 pounds), Alek Martin (149 pounds) and Bennett Berge (184 pounds). Redshirt freshman heavyweight Luke Rasmussen has been selected as an alternate.

NATIONAL QUALIFIERS
125: #23 Tanner Jordan • Sr., St. Paris, Ohio (24-9 overall)
133: #18 Derrick Cardinal • So., Forest Lake, Minn. (22-9 overall)
141: #30 Clay Carlson • Sr., Willmar, Minn. (15-7 overall)
149: #29 Alek Martin • So., St. Paris, Ohio (20-10 overall)
157: #15 Cael Swensen • So., Plymouth, Minn. (20-9 overall)
174: #2 Cade DeVos • Sr., Altoona, Iowa (23-1 overall)
184: #9 Bennett Berge • R-Fr., Mantorville, Minn. (19-5 overall)
197: #3 Tanner Sloan • Sr., Alburnett, Iowa (23-1 overall)
Alternate
197: Luke Rasmussen • R-Fr., Brookings, S.D. (17-13 overall)
Note: Seed for NCAA Championships listed

SEEDINGS AND PAIRINGS: South Dakota State’s Cade DeVos has been awarded the No. 2 seed at 174 pounds and returning finalist Tanner Sloan is seeded third in the 197-pound weight class as seedings and pairings for the 2024 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, which were revealed March 13.

A senior from. Altoona, Iowa, DeVos enters his fourth tournament appearance with a 23-1 overall record after claiming the 174-pound title March 10 at the Big 12 Wrestling Championship. He will meet No. 31 Michael Wilson of Rider (21-11 overall) in the opening round.

Sloan, a senior from Alburnett, Iowa, also has posted a 23-1 overall record this season while claiming the 197-pound title at the Big 12 tournament. Sloan is a five-time NCAA qualifier who finished as runner-up at 197 pounds last season in earning All-America honors for the first time. He is scheduled to square off against No. 30 Sam Mitchell of Buffalo (23-6 overall) in the opening round.

Also awarded a top-10 seed was redshirt freshman Bennett Berge, who is seeded ninth in the 184-pound weight class. A native of Mantorville, Minnesota, Berge holds a 19-5 record and is slated to meet No. 24 Shane Liegel of Wisconsin (19-12 record) in opening-round action.

Two-time All-American Clay Carlson qualified for the NCAA Championships for the fourth time and is seeded 30th at 141 pounds with a 15-7 record. Carlson is matched up against No. 3 Real Woods of Iowa (18-3 record).

A senior from Willmar, Minnesota, Carlson placed eighth at 141 pounds in 2021 and wrestled his way to a fifth-place showing in 2023.

Other 2023 national qualifiers returning to the championships this season are 125-pounder Tanner Jordan and Cael Swensen in the 157-pound division. A senior from St. Paris, Ohio, Jordan is seeded 23rd with a 24-9 record and will meet 10th-seeded Eric Barnett of Wisconsin (26-6 record).

Swensen, a sophomore from Plymouth, Minnesota, earned the No. 15 seed at 157 pounds and is matched up against No. 18 Vinny Zerban of Northern Colorado (24-2). Swensen is coming off a third-place finish at the Big 12 Championship and is 20-8 overall.

First-time NCAA qualifiers for the Jackrabbits include sophomores Derrick Cardinal at 133 pounds and 149-pounder Alek Martin. Cardinal, from Forest Lake, Minnesota, is seeded 18th with a 22-9 mark and will square off against 15th-seeded Brody Teske of Iowa (13-5) in first-round action.

Martin is seeded 29th and matched up against fourth-seeded Caleb Henson of Virginia Tech (25-2) after earning an at-large selection. Also a St. Paris, Ohio, native, Martin has compiled a 20-10 record so far this season.

BIG 12 RECAP: Cade DeVos and Tanner Sloan lived up their top-seed billing as the South Dakota State wrestlers captured individual titles March 10 at the 2024 Big 12 Wrestling Championship contested at BOK Center.

The duo became the first SDSU wrestlers to win Big 12 titles since Seth Gross (133 pounds) and Nate Rotert (197 pounds) in 2018.

A senior from Altoona, Iowa, DeVos claimed the 174-pound title with a 6-4 decision over seventh-seeded Gaven Sax of North Dakota State. DeVos took down Sax about 30 seconds into the opening period and rode out the remainder of the opening stanza to build up a big advantage in riding time.

DeVos added to his lead with an escape early in the second period before Sax mounted a comeback in the third with an escape and takedown to momentarily tie the match at 4-all. After a stoppage due to a scoring error, DeVos regained the lead with an escape on the restart and tacked on another point via riding time while holding off some late takedown attempts by Sax.

Sloan, meanwhile, was making his fourth appearance in a 197-pound championship bout while squaring off against third-seeded Rocky Elam of Missouri in a rematch of last year’s final. Sloan fended off a couple takedown attempts from Elam over the first two periods, which remained scoreless.

To start the third period, Sloan chose the down position and recorded an early escape for what would be the lone point of the match as the Jackrabbit wrestler was able to apply enough pressure to keep his opponent off the board.

Sloan’s victory also secured third place in the team standings for the Jackrabbits, who topped the century mark for team points for the first time at the Big 12 Wrestling Championship. SDSU’s third-place finish matched the program’s best, tying the placing of the 2016-17 and 2017-18 squads.

Iowa State won the team title with 152.5 points, followed by Oklahoma State with 141.5. SDSU’s 122 points were good for third place, with defending champion Missouri (115.5) and Northern Iowa (100) rounding out the top five.

SDSU, Iowa State and Northern Iowa all led the way with two individual champions.

In all, nine of the 10 Jackrabbit wrestlers earned spots on the podium with top-eight finishes. Seven of SDSU’s wrestlers earned automatic berths in the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships based on their individual finishes at the Big 12 tournament.

Cale Swensen recorded a third-place finish at 157 pounds after collecting a pair of one-point victories on the second day of competition, starting with a 4-3 victory over Brock Mauller of Missouri in the consolation semifinals.

That set up a rematch with third-seeded Teague Travis of Oklahoma State in the third-place match. The sixth-seeded Swensen scored on takedown late in the second period for a 3-1 lead and added an escape early in the third stanza en route to a 5-4 decision for his second win of the tournament over Teague.

Two other Jackrabbits wrestled in third-place matches, but came up short to improve their tournament standing. Derrick Cardinal, who advanced by injury default against Hunter Leake of California Baptist in the consolation semifinals, dropped a 6-1 decision to Dominick Serrano of Northern Colorado in the 133-pound third-place match.

At 184 pounds, Bennett Berge secured a trip to the NCAA Championships with a 4-2 decision over Missouri’s Colton Hawks in the consolation semifinals. Berge then squared off for a second time in as many days against Sam Wolf of Air Force, but again came up on the short end of 4-3 decision to finish fourth.

Also punching his ticket to Kansas City and the NCAA Championships was senior 141-pounder Clay Carlson. The Willmar, Minnesota, native will be making his fourth trip to nationals after a fifth-place finish.

Carlson opened Day 2 with a 11-6 loss to Tagen Jamison of Oklahoma State, then was awarded a medical forfeit from his scheduled fifth-place opponent, Jordan Titus of West Virginia, to claim the final allocated spot at the weight class.

Tanner Jordan also finished with a fifth-place showing in the 125-pound weight. Jordan was upended by Kysen Terukina of Iowa State, 10-6, in the consolation semifinals, followed by receiving a medical forfeit from Missouri’s Noah Surtin prior to the fifth-place match.

Rounding out the placewinners for the Jackrabbits were seventh-place finishers Alek Martin at 149 pounds and heavyweight Luke Rasmussen. Martin downed Max Petersen of North Dakota State, 5-2, while Rasmussen scored a 4-3 decision over Chase Trussell of Utah Valley.

NCAA Division I National Championships
March 21-23, at Kansas City, Mo.
Trackwrestling | Pre-Allocations |WrestleStat | At-Large Selections/Qualifiers | Brackets | Watch

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 ended the regular season at No. 11, a spot they held for the third 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 finished 12th in the dual rankings by both FloWrestling and 13th by 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.

A LOOK AHEAD: The NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships mark the final competition of the 2023-24 season.

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