Wrestling falls to NDSU in finale, finish third in WWC regular season



In an attempt to claim a share of the Western Wrestling Conference dual championship, the South Dakota State University wrestling team dropped its final dual match to the North Dakota State University Bison. The Bison, the conference dual champions, claimed a 19-13 victory on Feb. 22 in Frost Arena. 

“They went 5-0 in the conference. They’re deserving, no doubt about it. They’re tough guys man, they’re tough,” said SDSU head coach Chris Bono. “It’s hard when you get out toughed a little bit and our guys got a little out toughed, but that’s something we pride ourselves on, we want to be the toughest team in the country.”

SDSU won four matches in the losing effort. The Jackrabbits claimed victories at the 133-, 157-, 165-, and 197-pound weight classes.

At 133, junior Brance Simms tied the team scores with a 7-4 decision over NDSU’s Kyle Gliva.

The Jacks scored again in the 157-pound match, as redshirt freshman Colin Holler defeated Mitch Friedman by a score of 16-7. The major decision earned SDSU four team points and pulled the Jacks to within two points of the Bison at 9-7.

The next match at 165 pounds saw No. 7 Cody Pack, a senior, win by decision over Steven Keogh, 8-3. Pack’s victory allowed the Jackrabbits to take their first, and only, lead at 10-9.

No. 24 Nate Rotert added SDSU’s last three team points with an 8-2 decision over Tommy Petersen. 

“I wrestled that kid earlier at the duel against NDSU the first time. It really wasn’t a big change – I knew I should go out there and beat that kid. [I] wish I could get bonus points for the team but that didn’t happen,” Pack said about not being able to claim a major decision over Keogh. 

Bono knew his team would need to take some bonus points if they wanted to come away with the victory. Bono made a lineup change at the 165-pound weight class to give his team a better opportunity to claim some of those bonus points.

Pack, who is listed on the roster as the 157-pounder, wrestled at 165, and Holler, who was not on the probable line-up, took the victory at 157. Bono said this gave the Jacks the best chance to get extra bonus points in the match-ups NDSU presented them with. 

“We knew, if the matches went 5-5, we won five and they won five, that we needed bonus points to win the duel …  No offense to [John] Nething, he is our starter at 165 pounds and he will go to the conference tournament. … We had a chance to get some big bonus points at those weights and it almost worked out. Holler almost pinned the kid twice. If we do that and if Cody would have got the major, we’re in that thing,” Bono said. 

Other important matches in the final dual of the season were the 141- and 149-pound matches, according to Bono. NDSU took both of these matches. No. 29 Mitch Bengtson defeated redshirt freshman Luke Zilverberg by a score of 5-3 at 141 and Clay Ream defeated Alex Kocer, a senior, at 149, 7-5. 

The Jacks will now prepare for the Western Wrestling Conference Championships in Fargo, N.D. on March 7. The wrestlers will be competing for a chance to participate in the NCAA National Championships in St. Louis, Mo. on March 19 through the 21. 

“This is a time when we work on our key areas. We need to be selfish and devoted to ourselves,” Pack said. “Each guy needs to focus on himself and get to the national tournament – find a way. It’s a special place. Then once you get there, it makes you work harder and want to go again.”