Wrestlers defeat Air Force for second conference win

 

 In their final wrestling match of the afternoon, SDSU’s 18th ranked Cody Pack defeated his opponent and secured an 18-14 Jackrabbits’ victory over the visiting Air Force Academy Falcons on Sunday. 

A week after earning their first conference win against the nationally ranked University of Wyoming, the Jacks earned their second conference win as they took another step in the direction of becoming a top wrestling program. Air Force, meanwhile, entered the contest with an 8-4 record this season and an all-time record of 9-1 against SDSU, a team they defeated 41-5 a year ago.

The Jacks began the dual meet with wins by Joe Brewster in the 164 pound weight class, John Nething II in the 174 pound weight class and Ben Schwery in the 184 pound weight class to jump out to an early lead 9-0.

Air Force answered when Greg Isley overcame Trey Hable in the 197 pound class, setting a big battle in the 285 pound class between J.J. Everard of SDSU and Chris Davis of the Falcons. A 4-4 tie through the first three periods forced a sudden death overtime between the two in which Everard emerged victorious, 6-4, to put the Jacks up 12-3.

Just when things were starting to look good for the Jacks, fifth ranked Josh Martinez earned his team four points in the 125 pound class with an 11-3 victory over Ben Gillette. Martinez’s teammate Greg Rinker followed suite by defeating Brance Simms in the 133 pound class, leaving the Jacks clinging to a 12-11 lead. 

The Falcons then went on to seize the lead in the 141 pound class after David Walker defeated Eric Orozco in a hard fought affair that remained tied at one through a minute of overtime before Walker finally won the tiebreaker. 

With the meet on the line, Alex Kocer, the team’s leader in victories, took his turn in the 149 pound class where he found himself down 4-0 after the first period before rallying to dominate the final two periods and walk away with a 6-4 victory that put the Jacks back on top 15-14.

“Alex is sick,” head coach Chris Bono said. “He’s very sick, under the weather right now. I’m kind of worried about him, didn’t know if he was going to go today or not.”

Bono then recalled a conversation he shared with Kocer while driving home at two in the morning from the Cyclone Open at Iowa State.

“He looked at me and just said, ‘Coach I’m a competitor,’” Bono said. “We’re talking about other things and he said, ‘I’m a competitor.’ That kid’s going to go out and compete as hard as he can. I’m very happy for Alex to go out and do that and it just proves what kind of kid he is.”

The winner take all match then fell to Air Force’s Josh Kreimier and SDSU’s Pack in the 157 pound class. Kreimier had experienced success against Pack in the past, but Pack quickly jumped out to a 5-0 lead. Kreimier later found himself within a point the third period, but Pack responded to take the match 8-5 and give the Jacks their 18-14 victory.

“That’s two weeks in a row it’s come down to that,” Bono said. “And the kid Cody’s wrestling, the kid pinned Cody in the dual meet last year and tech-falled him in the conference championship, so for Cody to go out there and do what he did, it shows he is on track and ready to go be an All-American.”

The Jacks (3-3, 2-0) will return to action on Saturday, Feb. 1 when they travel to Cedar Rapids, Iowa for dual meets against the University of Northern Iowa and the University of Ohio.

“Now that we’re all bought in, we all trust and we all believe that we can win, that we can beat anyone in the country,” Pack said. “These last couple wins really motivated us to keep going ahead, keep winning.”