Bison pin Jacks in Fargo

By SHAYNE GOTTLOB Sportswriter

South Dakota State University’s wrestling team fell convincingly at North Dakota State University on Sunday, losing to the Bison 32-12 in their final regular season dual before the Western Wrestling Conference Championships, which will take place in Orem, Utah on March 8.

The Jackrabbits struggled for most of the day in the hostile Bison Sports Arena, managing to win only three of their 10 matches.

SDSU took an initial 6-3 lead after the conclusion of the second match before losing five straight matches and six of the last eight. 

“I don’t think we did a good job of laying it all on the line. I was disappointed in the performance,” head coach Chris Bono said.

Cody Pack, the 157 lb. wrestler for the Jackrabbits, scored half of his team’s 12 points with a pin over his opponent in the second match. Ben Gillette and Eric Orozco scored three points a piece for SDSU, winning their bouts 6-4 and 3-1, respectively. 

Aside from its three victories, the Jackrabbits surrendered 32 total points to the Bison, giving up 26 in a row on two pins, two technical falls (losing by 15 points), and a major decision (losing by eight or more points). 

Bono knows there is room for improvement as his team moves forward. 

“For improvements, we need to understand wrestling positions and know not to get caught in certain situations,” Bono said. “We need to understand wrestling specific situations and understand what’s going on.”

The dual was a tough contest for SDSU, but they will learn from the experience and move on. 

“It is what it is. It’s time to get ready for the conference tournament now,” Bono said.

The wrestling team has two weeks to prepare for the conference championships, a tournament composed of all the best wrestlers throughout the Western Wrestling Conference.

Although the tournament is a long ways off, time will certainly fly by with the work that is to come. 

Bono said there will be roughly eight to nine days of work for the wrestlers as they use that time to rest their bodies as well as individualize and prepare for certain opponents that they are going to face.

What the wrestlers do with this time could determine how well they do as a team and individually in the conference tournament. How well the wrestlers do at conference will also directly affect whether any of them qualify for the NCAA Championships, which will be held in Oklahoma City, Okla. on March 20, 21 and 22. 

The NCAA Championships are too far ahead though, and the clear focus is on the present and the conference championships that wait for the Jackrabbits in two weeks. 

“I expect a total team effort. I expect heart. I expect good attitudes, and let the results fall where they may,” Bono said. “If everybody takes care of themselves and everybody wrestles to their maximum ability, I will be a happy coach.”