Jacks wrestling rounds out season with national competitors


Isaac Hanson, Sports Reporter (He/him)

The South Dakota State Wrestling Team spent the majority of March preparing and competing in their postseason championships – and the Jackrabbits did not leave empty-handed.

The Jackrabbits traveled to Tulsa, Oklahoma March 6 and 7 to compete at the BIG 12 Championship. The Jacks finished 8th in the team standings with 67.5 points and brought all ten wrestlers to compete, with eight of them having been ranked. Six of those eight received a first-round bye.

“I think our guys were extremely focused on the task at hand, not looking ahead, because you didn’t know if there was going to be ahead,” coach Damion Hahn said when asked how the staff keeps their wrestlers from looking past to the national tournament.

The surprise of the tournament came with No. 1 seeded Tanner Sloan finishing in 6th place after being upset in the 3rd round by No. 4 seeded AJ Ferrari of Oklahoma State. He then had his tournament come to a sudden close with an injury withdrawal, as he has been fighting a shoulder injury throughout the season.

Hahn was not worried about Sloan grabbing one of the at-large bids, as he had met the criteria throughout most of the season to be eligible. Sloan would end up being seeded No. 13.

“It was huge. He has been here for two years, he’s been a starter in the last two years,” Hahn said about fellow teammate senior Danny Vega. “Going into the BIG 12 and nationals, I think (Vega) was wrestling the best we’ve seen him.”

Along with finishing 4th at the BIG 12 Championships, Vega also secured the No. 22 seed at nationals. Vega had gotten the alternate spot at nationals last year, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he was not able to wrestle. Vega opened up the tournament with an opening round loss to No. 11 seeded Dylan Ragusin of Michigan, but bounced back with a 21-4 tech fall win over Gage Curry of American University.

Vega would see his tournament run come to an end with an 8-6 loss to Michael DeAugustino of Northwestern. Vega finished the season with a 15-8 overall record.

At 133 lbs, No. 14 seeded Zach Price won a close opening match, 4-2, over Chance Rich of CSU Bakersfield before dropping a close match to No. 3 Korbin Myers of Virginia Tech in the second round. Price locked up the next two matches with wins over No. 29 Paul Bianchi of Little Rock and No. 21 Jared Van Vleet of Air Force. Price would end his season with a loss to No. 8 Chris Cannon of Northwestern, ending with a 17-6 record.

Clay Carlson found his way to the tournament with the No. 15 seed and found success in his first trip to the National Tournament. He opened with a win over No. 18 Parker Filius of Purdue with a score of 7-6. Facing a tough matchup in the second round, he lost 14-3 to Nick Lee of Penn State.

Carlson rattled off three straight wins, first defeating No. 32 Cayden Rooks of Indiana by pinfall. He next wrestled with a 9-0 major decision over Colin Valdiviez of Northwestern, as well as an 11-4 win over No. 21 Real Woods of Stanford.

Carlson’s season would come to end with back-to-back losses from No. 14 Dylan Duncan of Illinois and No. 10 Zachary Sherman of North Carolina. Carlson finished the season with a 20-9 record along with attaining All-American honors.

“I think it’s super important, it really is. I don’t know if people understand how hard it is to become an All-American. It is extremely difficult,” Hahn said about his first All-American wrestler during his time coaching at SDSU. 

Carlson wrestled his way to All-American status and went 4-3 at nationals in the 141-pound bracket. Carlson was the first All-American for the SDSU program since 2018, when Seth Gross, David Kocer and Luke Zilverberg earned All-American accolades.

Redshirt freshman Cade DeVos won by decision in a close match over No. 15 Chase Saldate with a score of 3-1. DeVos would draw No. 2 Hayden Hidlay of North Carolina State and would lose by technical fall with a final score of 20-3. DeVos’ season would come to an end after a 6-3 loss to No. 33 Wyatt Sheets of Oklahoma State.

Sloan looked to bounce back and picked up a win over No. 20 Max Shawn of North Carolina. Sloan once again matched up with No. 4 Ferrari of Oklahoma State before dropping the match in a 5-0 decision. Sloan rebounded with wins over No. 14 Greg Bulsak of Clarion in a 6-3 decision, as well as No. 12 Lucas Davison of Northwestern with an 8-2 decision. In his final match of the season, Sloan would fall to No. 15 Michael Beard of Penn State by a major decision of 9-1.

“You get five in and you push all five through to the second day. It’s awesome … You know, our guys went out there and battled,” Hahn said. “You wrestle against the best guys in the country. The nice thing was that Friday morning to come back and pick up wins. It was an exciting tournament.” This was the largest number of qualifiers Hahn has had since he began coaching for the Jackrabbits.

Hahn added he is positive about the direction the team is moving and the future outlook of the program. 

“I think it’s only going to keep getting better. With the types of kids we’re bringing into the program, along with our system of training, guys are bought in,” Hahn said. “And they can relate to our staff to a point where they trust, and trust is a big part of this.” 

Hahn said one of the biggest advancements to the program will be the new state-of-the-art, 16,000 square foot wrestling facility recently approved by the Board of Regents. The facility will feature four competition mats, plus a strength and conditioning area, locker rooms, team room, coaches’ offices and spaces for academics and nutrition.

“It’ll be top five within the country, and for a place like South Dakota State to lay claim to that is huge, monumental even, for this program,” Hahn said. 

Moving forward, the program hopes to continue to recruit great student athletes, and is also focused on keeping those who finish their time with the program involved and growing the support for the team in this community.


Danny Vega, 125 lbs-4th place

Zach Price 133-lbs 5th place

Clay Carlson, 141-lbs 5th place

Cade DeVos, 157-lbs 4th place

Cade King, 174-lbs 8th place

Jacob Schoon, 184-lbs 8th place

Tanner Sloan, 197-lbs 6th place