Pack leads rabbits to historic finish at Midlands

 

Over the break, the SDSU wrestling team took a trip to Columbia, Mo., for three duals and put together one of the best performances in school history at the Midlands Championships.

In Columbia, the Rabbits squared off against Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, Missouri, and Kent State in a tri-dual and finished 1-2 with the win coming over SIUE. SDSU dominated that match en route to a 29-9 finish.

In the second match of the day, Missouri held the Jacks without an individual win en route to a 31-6 thrashing. SDSU was awarded six points for a forfeit at heavyweight. Both of the ranked wrestlers for SDSU faced off against ranked competition, with No. 13 Cody Pack taking on No. 11 Joey Lavallee at the 157-pound weight class, and No. 15 Nate Rotert facing off with No. 3 J’Den Cox at the 197-pound weight class.

To close the day, SDSU fell to Kent State, a team filled with ranked individuals 31-6. The only points for SDSU came with Isaac Andrade and Rotert’s decisions at 125 pounds and 197 pounds, respectively.

SDSU then traveled to Evanston, Ill. to compete in the Midlands Championships tournament. SDSU had four men advance to the second day of competition, including Pack, Andrade, Colin Holler and David Kocer. Pack made Jackrabbit’s history, placing second, the highest finish ever by an SDSU athlete at Midlands.

“We make progress everyday. For him to go and do that, it shows what he’s capable of doing, what the program’s capable of doing,” said SDSU head coach Chris Bono. “It shows that the system we put in place three years ago, when I got here, is working. We’re getting better, it’s just a matter of time until we do it consistently.”

The Jacks then began a six-match home stand this past weekend, grabbing wins over Buffalo and Dakota Wesleyan. SDSU beat UB 28-8 while letting some underclassmen make their debuts in the Jackrabbit singlet. That was followed up with a 54-0 drubbing of DWU for SDSU’s first shutout since January 11, 2013 against Simpson College.

“It’s fun now,” Bono said. “We’ve got just dual meets left. With one match a day, our guys will get up for those. We’ve got only one road trip left. There are a lot of conference matches. So these are the ones that really matter and get you to the national tournament. We’ll be focused on each guy individually, and hopefully, we can win some matches here.”

SDSU’s record now stands at 5-5. There are four matches left in this home stand, starting with Boise State on Friday, January 16, at 7 p.m. before the Western Wrestling Conference opener against Northern Colorado on Sunday at 2 p.m.