‘The future of Jackrabbit wrestling’

Kurtenbach facility includes locker rooms, offices, team rooms, four mats

Brynn Lozinski, Reporter

Although construction is still ongoing, the South Dakota State wrestling team is excited to move into its brand-new facility later this year.

In late 2020, the South Dakota Board of Regents approved plans for the $4 million on-campus project. The nearly 16,000-square-foot Frank J. Kurtenbach Wrestling Center, located on the southwest corner of the Sanford Jackrabbit Athletic Complex, broke ground in September 2021.

 Since then, construction has continued throughout the spring and summer. Now, it is nearing its opening, scheduled for the end of the year.

 Among those involved with the building’s progress was Caleb Gross, a 141-pound sophomore from Pound, Wisconsin. Over the summer, he interned with a contracted company that assisted in the construction of the facility.

“This facility means the future of Jackrabbit wrestling,” Gross said. “I’m fortunate enough to get to be one of the first to use these new facilities while also having watched it come to life this past summer.”

And while the new facility may not be ready by the start of the season, coach Damion Hahn emphasized that the team will be moved in soon after. He plans on returning from Christmas break to the new facility, ready to work for the remainder of the season.

 “We are planning to have a more intimate small opening for Frank (Kurtenbach) and those closest to the program shortly after the opening,” Hahn said. “As far as the general public, something in the spring, summer or fall of 2023 will be set up for them to have free range of the facility.”

 Some of the amenities in the facility will be four wrestling mats, along with new locker rooms, offices and team rooms. Clay Carlson, a 141-pound senior from Wilmar, Minnesota, said the new facility would be a major upgrade from their current practice.

“I’m most excited for everything being big enough to fit the entire team and not having to split practices up or have to feel like practicing on an ice rink,” Carlson said. 

The facility could also greatly impact the future of SDSU wrestling, a team that’s seen major growth over the past several years.

 After transitioning to Division I in 2009, the Jackrabbits struggled at first before former coach Chris Bono turned the program around after joining the Big 12 Conference in 2015. Since then, they had their first-ever national champion (Seth Gross in 2018) and have consistently achieved a national ranking.

 The team now continues to build under Hahn, heading into his sixth season.

  Last season, SDSU saw four wrestlers (Carlson, Cade DeVos, Tanner Sloan and A.J. Nevills) make it into the NCAA Wrestling Championships. They are all returning this year.

  The team finished seventh in the Big 12 Conference Tournament, which was ranked 25th in the nation. With the help of the new facility, the program’s goal for the upcoming season is to finish higher in the conference and to be the top ten teams in the nation.

 Hahn hopes the new facility will be a statement to the rest of the country of the commitment from the students, athletes and parents of what wrestling is at SDSU.