The South Dakota State wrestling team has done three big things this season:
- Solidified a national ranking
- Put together a very good Big 12 Conference record
- Shown an ability to draw a crowd
Now, the Jacks have landed a spot in a high-profile national event. SDSU will host Purdue on Friday, February 17 in one of eight matchups in the 2017 Division One National Dual Championship Series.
The National Duals have been around for a long time, but the current format pits Big Ten teams against highly-ranked non-Big Ten teams. Last year, the Big Ten teams hosted. This year, they have agreed to travel.
“Just to be considered with these big schools is a huge deal,” says SDSU head coach Chris Bono. “But that’s not me. I’m not one of those guys that says we are this little guy. We are a big-time program, and we’re glad that we’re included in this thing and fired up to host it.”
Friday’s match will be the first ever for the Jacks against Purdue.
The Boilermakers finished tenth (out of 14) in the Big Ten with an 8-7 dual record overall. South Dakota State is currently second in the Big 12 Conference behind Oklahoma State. The Jacks are 7-1 in the conference and 13-4 in duals this season.
And the National Dual stage gives South Dakota State another opportunity to show off the program.
“It is super exciting,” says Jackrabbit sophomore Seth Gross. “It’s the first time the team has qualified for the national duals, so that is always huge. It adds another competition on our schedule, which is fun – another chance to get the fans out here and get them involved."
Gross is confident that the Jacks will more than hold their own against the Boilermakers. Luke Welch – Gross's probable opponent at 133 pounds – is ranked 25th right now. Gross is #2 in the Intermat and Trackwrestling rankings. He is listed ahead of Cory Clark at Iowa and Kaid Brock at Oklahoma State, whom Gross has beaten this season.
Gross is 25-1 this season, with the lone loss to 3rd-ranked Eric Montoya at Nebraska. Since then, Gross has won 13 matches in a row, one by technical fall, three by major decision and an amazing EIGHT by fall.
“I’ve been getting after it,” he says with a laugh. “The Oklahoma dual was fun. I needed a pin for that one and got after that. I’ve been really working on trying to get falls. Early in the year, I was getting a lot of tech falls and some majors and stuff like that and (Jackrabbit assistant coach) Schopp was like, ‘Why can’t you get pins? If you can tech a guy, why not pin him?’ So that’s what I’ve really been trying to get at.”
After Friday, the Jacks will finish the regular season at home against North Dakota State. It will be the first time SDSU and NDSU will face off with both ranked in the national Top 25.
Tickets are on sale the Jackrabbit Ticket Office (1-866-GOJACKS) and online at JackrabbitTickets.com.
Here are all of the National Duals matchups:
Friday, February 17
- #12 Rutgers at #11 Lehigh
- #16 Michigan at #7 NC State
- Purdue at #17 South Dakota State
Saturday, February 18
- #3 Iowa at #23 Edinboro
Sunday, February 19
- #4 Ohio State at #8 Cornell
- #2 Penn State at #1 Oklahoma State
- Indiana at #20 Appalachian State
- #6 Nebraska at #5 Virginia Tech