Wrestling team wraps up season with sweep of NDSU, prepare for Big XII

JALEN WILSON Sports Reporter

With the regular season wrapped up, the Jacks wrestling team has positioned themselves heading into the Big 12 Championships coming up March 5. The Jacks completed the season sweep of conference rival NDSU, beating them by a team score of 23-14.

NDSU’s 17th-ranked in the country Joshua Rodriguez opened the dual with a pin of Ben Gillette at 125 pounds, the Jackrabbits reeled off wins in the next six weight classes.

Brance Simms began the streak with an 8-0 major decision over Nico Colunga at 133 pounds.

The next four Jackrabbit victories were all by decision as Seth Gross, Alex Kocer, fifth-ranked Cody Pack and Luke Zilverberg extending the SDSU lead to 17-6. All four SDSU wrestlers have now won 20 or more matches this season, with Zilverberg reaching the 20-win mark on Sunday. Pack improved to 25-2 overall.

David Kocer recorded the sixth and final win of the streak with a 10-2 major decision of Tyler McNutt at 174 pounds. It was Kocer’s team-leading 26th win of the season.

Fourth-ranked Hayden Zillmer of NDSU ended the Jackrabbit string with a 21-5 technical fall victory over Brady Ayers in the 184-pound division and Bison heavyweight Ben Tynan notched a 5-3 sudden-victory decision over Alex Macki.

Fifteenth-ranked Nate Rotert sealed the Jackrabbit victory with a 10-4 decision over Charley Popp in the 197-pound weight class. A sophomore from Spearfish, South Dakota Rotert improved to 24-8 on the season.

 In their final 14 matches, the Jacks went on an 11-match win streak and finished 13-1 during this span. This is the first time for the team to move to a major conference in the history of SDSU. The Jacks ended the season 6-2 on their home mat.

With all of these accomplishments, the Jacks’ biggest one was becoming ranked in the top 25 by USA Today for the first time ever in their Division I history. They currently rank at the no. 22 spot in the polls and have moved up every week since being ranked.

The Jacks at this point in the season have four wrestlers ranked in the country in their respective weight classes. Junior Ben Gillette currently ranks tied for 33rd in the coaches poll as he has posted a 19-11 record throughout the season. Fifth-year senior and three-time national qualifier Cody Pack ranks fifth in the 157-pound class. Pack has only lost two matches out the 27 he has competed in and has been the catalyst to the Jacks impressive season.

Sophomore David Kocer solidified the 174-pound class for the Jacks as he leads the team in wins with 26 and currently ranks 30th in the country.

Redshirt sophomore and former national qualifier Nate Rotert has picked up right where he left of last year as one of the most dominant wrestlers in the 197 class as he currently ranks 10th in the nation and has posted a 24-8 record on the season.

The Jacks will be looking to make some noise in their first Big 12 Championship competing for the top spot in the conference. It is going to be no easy task as this team will probably go through teams like University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, who they have previously lost to in the regular season.

The Jacks will be leaning on their current hot streak to keep them rolling through the tournament, which is in Kansas City at the Sprint Center March 5-6.