Wrestling sends 5 to NCAA Championship


JALEN WILSON Sports Reporter

With most Jackrabbit students heading back to their hometowns for the long awaited spring break, there was no time off for the Jacks wrestling team as they competed in their first ever Big 12 Conference Championship. 

The Jacks finished the weekend with the most national qualifiers in the history of SDSU as they will be sending five Jackrabbits to the National Championships held in Madison Square Garden starting this Thursday on ESPN.

The Jacks finished fourth place at the Big 12 Conference Championships in Kansas City, Missouri with some nice performances individually from Seth Gross, Cody Pack and Nate Rotert.

Gross, a redshirt freshman out of Apple Valley, Minnesota, placed second in the 141 weight class in surprising fashion. Gross won his first two matches, helping him advance to the championship round where he was eventually defeated by Dean Heil of Oklahoma State who was the top ranked wrestler in the class. Gross was elected a national invite because of his Big 12 conference performance.

“He beat a kid he shouldn’t beat, and he was the kid who exceeded his seed, so I would say that his performance was the highlight of the day,” head coach Chris Bono said on GoJacks.com.

Senior Cody Pack couldn’t quite live up to the number one seed that he received in the conference tournament coming into the weekend as he finished second losing to the No. 2 wrestler in the 157 weight class, Joe Smith, also from Oklahoma State. The Quincy, California, native received his fourth invitation to the national tournament this upcoming week.

Coach Bono made strong remarks on Pack’s final match at nationals on GoJacks.com. 

“I think he understands how this is his last crack at it. He’s a little banged up, but you still got to put it aside and let it fly at the national tournament, because this it, there are no more chances,” Bono said.

Redshirt sophomore Nate Rotert was the third Jackrabbit to take home a second place finish in the conference championships. Rotert, a Spearfish, South Dakota native, will be making his second national appearance in as many years in the 197 weight class.

“Nate Rotert was really close to being a Big 12 Champion. He wrestled in the tough bracket, which was the toughest there,” Bono said on GoJacks.com.

The Jacks also got national qualifier invitations for Alex and David Kocer. Alex, a junior, finished in fifth place in the 141 weight class improving his record to 24-10 on the season. David, a sophomore, was awarded fourth place in the 174 weight class. This is both Alex’s second national invite and David’s first.

Heading into nationals, Cody Pack and Nate Rotert will be the only Jackrabbits ranked in the tournament. Pack will enter the match as the seventh best wrestler in the 157 weight class and Rotert ranked No. 15 in the 197 weight class.