South Dakota State Head Wrestling Coach Chris Bono enters his fifth season in charge in Brookings still looking for the programs first All-American since he took over. The Jackrabbits have been close, both Seth Gross and Cody Pack have gotten to the round of 12 during Bono’s tenure, but they are still trying to break through.
Losing Pack, a four-time national qualifier who leaves the program tied for 7th in all-time victories with 107, is a big blow, but the cupboard is not bare. We may see some weight shuffling from the Jacks as they try to get their best wrestlers in the line-up. Seth Gross has had a big off-season, earning a spot on the Junior World Team, and will move down to 133 for the coming season. Two-time national qualifier Alex Kocer, who will be a senior, could also try to move down to the now vacant 141 pound class, but I expect he’ll stay at 149.
Junior Luke Zilverberg, last year’s starter at 165, probably will move down to 157 with Pack gone. The Jacks look strong up top with national qualifier David Kocer (Jr) returning at 174, Brady Ayers (Sr) at 184 and two-time NCAA qualifier Nate Rotert (Jr) at 197. Zac Carlson is coming off a nice redshirt campaign, but seems to be without a line-up spot for the time being.
Overall, this line-up will be expecting to match or exceed their 4th place finish in the Big 12 from a year ago. Gross could be their first All-American and they could get as many as six or seven wrestlers through to the NCAA tournament if the team progresses well.
The 2016-17 South Dakota State wrestling schedule features duals against Iowa State (Nov 4th), Minnesota (Nov 19th), Iowa (Dec 2nd), Wyoming (Jan 13th), Oklahoma State (Jan 22nd), Oklahoma (Feb 3rd) and Virginia Tech (Feb 12th). Their first tournament action comes November 6th, hosting the Warren Williamson/Daktronics Open. Over the Christmas break, they head to the Midlands (Dec 29th and 30th). The Big 12 Championships are in Tulsa, Oklahoma, March 4th and 5th. The NCAA tournament heads to St. Louis March 16th through 18th.