Jackrabbits finish fourth; four earn berths to nationals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Three South Dakota State University wrestlers recorded individual runner-up finishes and the Jackrabbits placed fourth in the team standings as competition at the Big 12 Wrestling Championship wrapped up Sunday at Sprint Center.

Redshirt freshman Seth Gross was the first Jackrabbit to wrestle in Sunday’s finals as he was matched up against top-ranked Dean Heil of Oklahoma State. Heil would go on defeat Gross, 5-3, but Gross earned a trip to nationals with his runner-up finish.

The 157-pound championship bout featured top-seeded Cody Pack of SDSU against second-seeded Joseph Smith of Oklahoma State. Smith scored an early takedown and carried the momentum through for an 8-4 victory. Pack, who fell to 27-3 overall, will be making his fourth consecutive trip to the national tournament.

At 197 pounds, Nate Rotert will make a return trip to the national meet despite dropping a 4-3 decision to fifth-seeded Preston Weigel of Oklahoma State in the championship match. Rotert’s season record stands at 26-9.

David Kocer became the fourth Jackrabbit to earn a trip to nationals with a fourth-place finish at 174 pounds. A sophomore from Wagner, Kocer opened the day with a 3-2, overtime victory over West Virginia’s Ross Renzi in the consolation semifinals. Kocer later withdrew from the scheduled third-place match against Oklahoma’s Matt Reed for medical reasons.

Alex Kocer and Luke Zilverberg each split their consolation matches Sunday morning to finish with fifth-place showings. Alex Kocer dropped a 9-6 decision to Cole Mendenhall of Wyoming in his first match, but came back to post a 15-7 major decision over Northern Colorado’s Timmy Box. Kocer improved to 24-10 this season and will be under consideration for an at-large selection to the national tournament.

Zilverberg opened the morning session with a 7-2 loss to third-seeded Clark Glass of Oklahoma in the consolation semifinals, but claimed fifth place with a 4-2 decision over Michael Billingsley of Air Force to close out his season.

With seven individual champions, Oklahoma State claimed the team title with 161 points. Oklahoma was second with 100 points and two individual champions, followed by Iowa State with 87 points and one champion. SDSU tallied 77 points for its fourth-place showing, with Wyoming completing the upper half of the 10-team field with 71.5 points.

The NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships are scheduled for March 17-19 in New York City. At-large selections to the national tournament will be announced on Wednesday.

Brackets/Results on

Following is a complete look at South Dakota State’s complete individual results from the Big 12 Wrestling Championship:

125: #7 Ben Gillette, Jr., Redfield, S.D. (1-2 record)
First Round: tech. fall #10 Jesse Reed, Northern Colorado, 18-1 (5:51)
Quarterfinals: lost to #2 Eddie Klimara, Oklahoma State, by fall 1:23
Consolation Round of 8: lost to #8 Kyle Larson, Iowa State, by dec., 10-4
Gillette eliminated – ends season 19-13 overall

133: #5 Brance Simms, Sr., Gilmore City, Iowa (0-2 record)
Quarterfinals: lost to #4 Jade Rauser, Utah Valley, by dec., 7-0
Consolation Quarterfinals: lost to #8 Keegan Moore, West Virginia, by dec., 3-2
Simms eliminated – ends season 15-13 overall

141: #3 Seth Gross, R-Fr., Apple Valley, Minn. (2-1 record)
Quarterfinals: major dec. #6 Trae Blackwell, Oklahoma, 10-0
Semifinals: dec. #2 Bryce Meredith, Wyoming, 8-3
Finals: lost to #1 Dean Heil, Oklahoma State, by dec., 5-3
Second place – national qualifier; season record of 23-12

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149: #2 Alex Kocer, Jr., Wagner, S.D. (2-2 record)
Quarterfinals: dec. #10 John Meeks, Iowa State, 1-0
Semifinals: lost to #3 Davion Jeffries, Oklahoma, by fall 4:47
Consolation Semifinals: lost to #5 Cole Mendenhall, Wyoming, 9-6
Fifth-Place Match: major dec. #4 Timmy Box, Northern Colorado, 15-7
Fifth place; season record of 24-10

157: #1 Cody Pack, Sr., Quincy, Calif. (2-1 record)
Quarterfinals: tech. fall #9 Kyle Gliva, North Dakota State, 16-0 (4:25)
Semifinals: dec. #4 Archie Colgan, Wyoming, 3-2
Finals: lost to #2 Joseph Smith, Oklahoma State, by dec., 8-4
Second place – national qualifier; season record of 27-3

165: #5 Luke Zilverberg, So., Belle Plaine, Minn. (2-2 record)
Quarterfinals: lost to #4 Connor Flynn, West Virginia, 4-2
Consolation Quarterfinals: dec. #8 Grant Nehring, North Dakota State, 8-5
Consolation Semifinals: lost to #3 Clark Glass, Oklahoma, by dec., 7-2
Fifth-Place Match: dec. #9 Michael Billingsley, Air Force, 4-2
Fifth place; season record of 22-12

174: #4 David Kocer, So., Wagner, S.D. (2-1 record)
Quarterfinals: dec. #5 Ross Taylor, Utah Valley, 10-6
Semifinals: lost to #1 Chandler Rogers, Oklahoma State, by dec., 10-8
Consolation Semifinals: dec. #6 Ross Renzi, West Virginia, 3-2 (TB-2)
Third-Place Match: withdrew due to injury
Fourth place – national qualifier; season record of 28-11

184: #7 Brady Ayers, Jr., Waterville, Minn. (3-3 record)
First Round: tech. fall #10 Horacio Vialpando, Northern Colorado, 16-0 (2:44)
Quaterfinals: lost to #2 Nolan Boyd, Oklahoma State, by major dec., 8-0
Consolation Round of 8: dec. #9 Will Sumner, Utah Valley, 4-2
Consolation Quarterfinals: dec. #6 Andrew Dixon, Oklahoma, 5-2
Consolation Semifinals: lost to #4 Dane Pestano, Iowa State, by dec., 3-1
Fifth-Place Match: lost to #8 Ben Stroh, Wyoming, by dec., 11-4
Sixth Place; season record 22-16

197: #2 Nate Rotert, So., Spearfish, S.D. (2-1 record)
Quarterfinals: dec. #7 Brandon Tribble, Wyoming, 8-2
Semifinals: dec. #3 Trent Noon, Northern Colorado, 7-6
Championship: lost to #5 Preston Weigel, Oklahoma State, by dec., 4-3
Second Place – national qualifier; season record 26-9

285: #9 Alex Macki, So., Cambridge, Iowa (0-2 record)
First Round: lost to A.J. Vizcarrondo, West Virginia, by dec., 2-0
Consolation Round of 8: lost to Marcus Malecek, Air Force, by dec., 1-0
Macki eliminated – ends season 8-19 overall

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