SDSU hosts Purdue in program’s first NWCA match

By TRENTON ABREGO Sports Reporter

South Dakota State’s wrestling team will host and wrestle their first ever National Wrestling Coaches Association dual against a Big Ten foe, the Purdue Boilermakers, on Friday.

“We’re really excited,” Bono said. “This will be the first time in program history that we’ll be participating in the NWCA duals, so we want our fans to come out and show the country what kind of fans we have.”

The Jackrabbits have faced two Big Ten teams already this year, the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Minnesota Gophers, and lost to both teams.

SDSU (13-4, 7-1) will also play host to the Big 12 foe and rival North Dakota State.

Last week, the Jacks were on the road against the West Virginia Mountaineers and the Virginia Tech Hookies. The Jackrabbits defeated West Virginia 32-9.

Alex Kocer, who is ranked No. 16 in the country by InterMat, led the way for the Jackrabbits with a pin and gave the Jackrabbits six team points.

Head coach Chris Bono and his team saw their five-game winning streak come to an end as the No. 5 ranked Hookies defeated the Jackrabbits 29-15. Bono said he is really proud of the Jacks.

During that duel, the Jackrabbits got two pin falls from redshirt freshman Henry Pohlmeyer and sophomore Seth Gross. Pohlmeyer came up with a pin over Brendan Ryan in the first period. Gross pinned Dennis Gustafson in the third period.

However, the Jackrabbits kept it close with the pins coming from the 133 and 141 weight classes. But, they couldn’t overcome two technical falls and a forfeit, which was a deduction of six points. The forfeit came at the 197-weight class as SDSU’s Nate Rotert was injured in the West Virginia dual.

Up next for the Jackrabbits is a dual with Purdue in the NWCA National Championship duals. The Boilermakers (8-7, 3-6) finished 10th in the Big Ten conference.

For the Boilermakers, the Jackrabbits will be the eighth nationally ranked opponent that they have faced. Purdue has yet to beat a ranked opponent this season. 

It will be the first matchup between South Dakota State and Purdue. 

The Boilermakers are led by 125-pounder Ben Thornton, who has posted a 23-11 record on the year and 9-5 record in duals. The 157-pound Alex Griffin is 22-10 on the year overall. 

“The first 1,000 fans get foam fists, so we’re hoping to sell this thing out,” Bono said.

On Sunday, the No. 14 South Dakota State Jackrabbits will take on the No. 24 North Dakota State Bison in a Big 12 Battle at Frost Arena. The match will be Senior Night, and the two seniors, Ben Gillett and Alex Kocer, will be honored before the match.

The North Dakota State Bison (14-4, 4-2) have fallen to ranked teams three out of their four defeats. Those losses came from Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, Arizona State and unranked Utah Valley.

However, the Bison boast three ranked wrestlers. InterMat has Josh Rodriguez, the 125-pound Bison wrestler ranked at No. 4, and Clay Ream is the starting 157-pounder for the Bison. Cam Sykora, the 133-pounder for the Bison, is ranked at No. 20. 

The North Dakota State dual will be the last regular season conference dual before the Big 12 Championship tournament on March 4 and 5. 

On Friday, the match against the Purdue Boilermakers will take place at 7 p.m. and can be viewed at The North Dakota State match will take place at 2 p.m. on Feb. 19.