Three wrestlers advance to nationals

By Haley Pratt Assistant Sports Editor

SDSU will send Alex Kocer (149), Cody Pack (157) and Joe Brewster (165) to Oklahoma City, Okla., for the 2014 Division I Wrestling Championships this upcoming weekend after the team meet Orem, Utah for the NCAA West Region/Western Wrestling Conference Championship. 

Brewster joins automatic qualifiers Kocer and Pack with an at-large bid following duals in Indianapolis, Ind.

This season marks the first time in school history in which three Jackrabbits are going to the championship. No more than one grappler had qualified in years past. 

Pack will make a return trip after last year’s qualification when he went 0-2. 

The Jacks finished fifth as a team with 34.5 points In Utah.  

In the 157 class, Pack started the day with a 4-1 win over Air Force’s Jack Kreimier. He led for the better of the match following a takedown in the first period, but he found himself trailing 3-2 with moments to go in the third when he landed a reversal with one second remaining to take a 4-3 win. 

Pack is ranked No. 12 in The Open Mat and No. 15   in InterMat. Pack also owns the No. 15 seed entering the championships.

Teammate John Nething II also reigned victorious over his Air Force opponent Konnor Witt 6-1. Nething II dropped to NDSU’s Hayden Zillmer 8-4 after advancing to the finals following his Air Force match win. 

Brance Simms fell to Utah Valley’s Chasen Tolbert in the 133 class after reaching consolation in semifinals and finished the day 2-2 with wins against Northern Colorado’s Michael Espinoza and Wyoming’s Gunnar Woodburn. 

NDSU finished first in the West Region championship with 74 points followed by Wyoming with 66 points, Air Force with 50 points and Utah Valley with 49.5 points. Northern Colorado finished behind SDSU with 12.5 to round out the tournament.  

Still relatively new to the Division I level, Coach Bono and the team opened eyes in college wrestling against Northern Iowa and Ohio earlier this season.

“I couldn’t be more excited with what we have going at South Dakota State right now,” Bono said in regards to heading into duals at Cedar Falls, Iowa earlier this year. “We want to bring in kids who have goals of becoming All-Americans and winning NCAA titles. There is no reason why we can’t win here.” 

The competitors leave for Oklahoma City, Okla. mid week as they prepare for Thursday’s matches. ESPN will feature expanded digital coverage to and will televise every match on ESPN3, each happening for the first time. Semifinals and championship finals will air on ESPN. ESPNU will feature preliminary sessions and the medal round. 

Up-to-date results will be released on Twitter via