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Bono heads to Wisconsin, reflects on time at SDSU

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Bono heads to Wisconsin, reflects on time at SDSU

FILE PHOTO 
Chris Bono

FILE PHOTO Chris Bono

FILE PHOTO Chris Bono

FILE PHOTO Chris Bono

Trenton Abrego

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It’s official. Chris Bono will not be the head coach for the South Dakota State wrestling team next season and will instead head to Madison, Wisconsin to coach the Wisconsin Badgers.

Bono will fill the void left by the resignation of the former Badger legend, Barry Davis, who was the head coach at Wisconsin for 25 years.

Assistant head coach, John Reader, will also head to Wisconsin. According to Bono, the facilities, school and national brand of Wisconsin lured him to take the job.

“The support here is great, but (Wisconsin) facilities are top notch; the school itself is unbelievable,” he said.

Coaching the Badgers will allow Bono to showcase his coaching skills on one the biggest platforms and the best conference in collegiate wrestling, the Big Ten.  

“It’s a Big Ten wrestling job that gives us a chance to go win national championships and team trophies there, the budget, support system — everything is there to be successful,” Bono said. “I’m not saying you can’t do it here, but it’s on a larger scale.”

It’s true, Bono could do that at SDSU and he did.

Junior Seth Gross won the first NCAA D-I Championship for the Jacks just a few weeks ago and the Jacks sent 24 NCAA qualifiers to the National Wrestling Championships in a six-year span.

But, over the six-year tenure, it was becoming increasingly clearer that Bono was a large fish in a small pond.

“The opportunity was very easy to say yes to. Now, the hardest part is saying goodbye,” Bono said. “The people here are so special; it’s like family.”

Bono successfully rebuilt the SDSU wrestling program, as they placed 12th at the 2018 NCAA National Championships as a team.

During his coaching stint in Brookings Bono won over the heart of the wrestling legend.

“This place is so special to me,” Bono said. “S—, I might even vacation here (Brookings).”

Jacks fans might not have seen the last of Bono in a coaching seat at Frost Arena. He didn’t rule out a return, but he would be sporting red and white instead of blue and yellow.

“If they will have me back, we owe it to them,” Bono said about scheduling a dual match against the Jacks.

Looking ahead to the 2018-19 season, the Jacks return a plethora of talent, including the reigning 133-weight champion, Seth Gross.

“I don’t want to wrestle him next year,” Bono said of Gross.

The Jacks will also bring back three NCAA National qualifiers in Connor Brown, Henry Pohlmeyer and Martin Mueller. Bono still has high expectations for the upcoming season for the wrestling squad.

“They better do good, I expect them to be hard-nosed,” Bono said.

Now, the Jacks will look to fill the void left by Bono.

“He’s got to expect greatness. He is going to get administrative support, fan support,” Bono said of the potential replacement. “He is going to get everything he needs to win, but he will need to put his head down. It’s not an easy job.”

Despite leaving the program after its historic season, Bono doesn’t have any regrets with the timing of his departure.

“Is it hard to walk away? I don’t think so because I think we did our job, we are leaving this place in a great spot,” Bono said. “We did the best we possibly could in what we had.”

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Bono heads to Wisconsin, reflects on time at SDSU