Jacks face Bison in final dual

Wrestling team has one last test before conference championships


Miranda Sampson

South Dakota State’s AJ Nevills waves to the crowd in a Big 12 dual Feb. 12 against Oklahoma at Frost Arena. This would be the final home wrestling meet of the graduate student’s college career.

Skyler Jackson (He/Him), Co-Sports Editor

The South Dakota State wrestling team will compete in its last dual of the season Sunday against rival North Dakota State in Fargo.

The 17th-ranked Jackrabbits are coming off close dual losses in Frost Arena against Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. They look to rebound against the No. 15 Bison before the Big 12 Wrestling Championships in Tulsa.

“Nobody likes to lose, but let it be a learning lesson for our guys,” coach Damion Hahn said. “And now we have our final dual of the year, and then we get into the postseason. The best time of the year is around the corner, so I’m obviously disappointed about the overall result of the weekend, but I can’t dwell on that.”

SDSU is 11-4 overall in duals this season and 5-2 in the Big 12. They were on a 10-dual win streak before No. 7 Oklahoma State snapped it Friday. The Jacks were then narrowly defeated by Oklahoma two days later.

Against Oklahoma State, the Jackrabbits won four of the 10 total matchups, but the Cowboys controlled the first half of the dual, winning five of the first six matchups to defeat SDSU 19-12. Against Oklahoma Sunday, the dual was even until the Sooners won four-straight matchups that propelled them to an 18-13 win.

According to the InterMat NCAA Division I Rankings, the Jacks have eight nationally ranked wrestlers. Their highest-ranked wrestler is 197-pounder Tanner Sloan, ranked ninth in his weight class and undefeated in duals this season. His latest victory came by major decision against Oklahoma’s Carson Berryhill.

“I just want to put a show on for the fans,” Sloan said. “I made it a goal of mine when I was redshirting that I didn’t want to lose in front of my home crowd. I’m not trying to make too much pressure out of it but they’re behind me, my coach is behind me, my teammates are behind me, so success will come.”

Two other wrestlers for SDSU are ranked in the top 15 in their weight class. 141-pounder Clay Carlson is ranked No. 11 in the nation with a 16-7 record, and AJ Nevills is ranked No. 14 at heavyweight with a 17-4 record. The graduate student picked up two more wins in the final two home duals of his collegiate career.

“(Nevills) is going to be missed, there’s no doubt,” Hahn said. “He comes through, two solid heavyweights that he knocked off (last) weekend. He toughed it out and got it done, so I’m super happy for AJ.”

Other ranked Jackrabbits are No. 29 Tanner Jordan at 125 pounds, No. 19 Cael Swensen at 157 pounds, No. 24 Tanner Cook at 165 pounds, No. 23 Cade DeVoss at 174 pounds and No. 20 Cade King at 184 pounds.

For the Bison, they have an 11-2 dual record this season, including a 6-1 conference record. They opened their season with a top-10 win against No. 8 Nebraska. They have since won their last seven duals in a row, including their most recent win Friday against Oklahoma.

Their best wrestler this season has been Jared Franek. At 157 pounds, he has an 18-1 overall record and is ranked third in the nation. NDSU has another top-10 wrestler in 165-pounder Mikey Caliendo. He’s ranked 10th with a 19-2 record.

Other ranked wrestlers for the Bison are McGwire Midkiff, ranked No. 33 at 133 pounds, Dylan Droegemueller, No. 30 at 141 pounds, Kellyn March, No. 16 at 149 pounds, DJ Parker, No. 28 at 184 pounds and Owen Pentz, No. 11 at 197 pounds.

The dual between the Jackrabbits and Bison will start at 2 p.m. It will mark the 71st meeting between the two schools, with NDSU leading the all-time series 45-24-1, including a 15-6-1 advantage in the Division I era (since 2004-05).

Hahn said that he expects a close rivalry matchup Sunday as the two teams prepare for the postseason.

“It’ll be another good one, it always is. And for me, it’s fun, it truly is,” Hahn said. “Our guys are excited for it. This is probably the dual meet that they get most excited about because of the history of it.”