Wrestling team on 10-dual winning streak

Skyler Jackson, Sports Editor

The South Dakota State wrestling season is winding down with three duals left this season, two of them against nationally ranked opponents before the Big 12 Wrestling Championship.

Despite competing in one of the toughest conferences in the nation, the Jackrabbits have put together a successful season and have momentum as they get closer to the conference championship.

SDSU has won 10 consecutive duals this season after the victories in Colorado last weekend against Northern Colorado and Air Force. They haven’t lost since December in a narrow defeat to Nebraska, now ranked No. 10 in the nation. It’s just the seventh time in program history the Jacks have had a double-digit win streak and the first since their school-record 14-match win streak in the 2017-18 season.

“This is what you want in a program,” coach Damion Hahn said. “Winning is contagious, winning is fun and I think these guys not only experience it, but they see what’s happening from a team aspect and a culture aspect. It reconfirms what we’re doing and the direction the program’s going, so that’s awesome and I’m happy for these guys.”

They are 11-2 overall this season and 5-0 in the Big 12. Two of those wins came on the road last weekend against Northern Colorado and Air Force.

In the dual against Northern Colorado Friday, the Jackrabbits started slow, losing their first four matches. But they finished strong by claiming the final six matches to pull away for a 23-13 victory. The only pin recorded in the dual was from Tanner Sloan in the 197-pound matchup. It was Sloan’s second pin in a row and fourth of the season.

“(Sloan) has been wrestling really well, he’s in a good place right now,” Hahn said. “I think what he’s been doing as far as training and where he is from his mindset, it’s never been better. He’s performing like a national champion.”

After the hard-fought win against the Bears, SDSU then took on Air Force Sunday. Unlike their previous dual, the Jackrabbits got off to a fast start. They won their first three matches, including a pin from Cade DeVoss in the 174-pound matchup.

Later on in the dual, Tanner Jordan recorded the second pin for SDSU in the 125-pound matchup. From there, it was a back-and-forth contest, but the early start propelled the Jackrabbits to a 26-16 victory over the Falcons and their 10th-straight dual win.

SDSU won its first dual of the season Nov. 18 against Augustana, then lost their next two duals against Minnesota (Nov. 27) and Nebraska (Dec. 18). Since then, the Jacks haven’t lost. They dominated in their next six duals before beginning their conference schedule. After that, SDSU notched two more wins at home against Utah Valley and Wyoming before their wins in Colorado last weekend.

Many wrestlers have contributed throughout SDSU’s winning streak. Sloan and freshman 157-pounder Cael Swensen have both won every matchup during the win streak. At 285 pounds, A.J. Nevills is 11-1 in duals this season.

Hahn believes that many of them are developing a national championship mentality.

“They believe it and they’re living it,” Hahn said. “You can see it in their performances, and I think that’s important and for a lot of our guys, that is what’s happening right now.”

Looking ahead, the Jackrabbits will have their next dual Feb. 10 at Frost Arena against No. 11 Oklahoma State. They will then host Oklahoma two days later before heading to Fargo Feb. 19 to take on No. 16 North Dakota State in their last dual of the season.