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Photo by: Robby Gallagher

Jacks host former WWC foe UNI

Courtesy: SDSU Sports Info
Release: 02/01/2013 11:45:22

South Dakota State is back in action again this weekend versus former Western Wrestling Conference opponent Northern Iowa. The Panthers left the WWC prior to this season and joined the Mid-American Conference (MAC). Start time is set for 7 p.m. in Frost Arena.

Last weekend, the Jackrabbits visited 24th-ranked Air Force and Western State in Colorado Springs. SDSU dropped the weekend opener to the host Falcons 41-5 and dropped the closer to Western State 25-11. Aaron Pickrel (125), Brance Simms (133), Dustin Walraven (149) and Cody Pack (157) each scored wins on the day, two decisions (Pickrel and Simms) and two tech falls (Walraven and Pack).

The weekend setbacks dropped the Jacks to 4-8 overall, 0-2 WWC. Air Force improved to 10-2 overall, the best mark in the conference, and 1-1 WWC.

First-year head coach Chris Bono and first-year assistant coaches Israel Silva and Andrew Sorenson leads SDSU. Bono posted a 39-17-0 record in three years at Tennessee at Chattanooga, including a 15-0 SoCon record. His squad won three SoCon regular season and tournament championships and he was named SoCon Coach of the Year all three seasons.

- The NCAA released its first coaches' panel rankings for the 2012-13 season. Final rankings are one of the tools used to determine the qualifiers for the NCAA Championships.

Dustin Walraven (20-10 overall, 8-4 duals) checked in at No. 31 in the 149-pound weight class in the initial rankings.

Complete rankings are available on NCAA.com.

No. 20 Northern Iowa Panthers
- The Jacks face the Panthers for the 40th time in school history, dating back to the 1953-54 season. The 39 meetings are the fifth-most meetings between SDSU and any opponent (North Dakota State is most-faced opponent).

Last season, Northern Iowa handed SDSU its third conference dual loss of the season in early February. The Jacks visited Cedar Falls, Iowa, and nearly upset the Panthers. Aaron Pickrel (125) opened the dual with a pin and Dustin Walraven (141) scored a decision, but it was not enough as UNI pulled away for a 25-12 win.

Host of last season's West Regional, the Panthers finished second, a large margin behind first-place Wyoming and ahead of third-place North Dakota State. Five UNI wrestlers qualified for the NCAA Championships, three via first-place finish and two via second. Four of the five qualifiers returned and are probable starters for the Panthers this Friday (Levi Wolfensperger (133), David Bonin (157), Ryan Loder (184), Blayne Beale (285). Wolfensperger earned the Most Pins Award at the West Regional with two.

Northern Iowa entered the weekend at 6-3 overall. Despite leaving the WWC for the MAC, the Panthers face three WWC opponents, as well as other midwest opponents this season. UNI already wrestled Northern Colorado and Air Force and is set to travel to North Dakota State on Sunday.

Northern Iowa defeated two ranked opponents this season. The Panthers hosted No. 13 Oklahoma in mid-January and won by a single decision (18-15) and, two days later, defeated No. 21 Northwestern on a neutral mat. Its three losses were at Wisconsin (24-13), at Air Force (19-18) and versus Missouri (27-9).

UNI is ranked No. 20 in the USA Today/NWCA/AWN Coaches Poll and No. 26 in Gregg Henry's/WrestlingReport D-I Rankings.

Six Panthers cracked the first NCAA coaches' panel rankings for the 2012-13 season. Levi Wolfensperger (No. 9 at 133), Joey Lazor (No. 15 at 141), Bart Reiter (No. 26 at 149), David Bonin (No. 18 at 157), Cody Caldwell (No. 21 at 174) and Ryan Loder (No. 6 at 184) all checked in for UNI. All wrestlers are also ranked by Gregg Henry's/Wrestling Report and three are ranked by InterMat in Wolfensperger (No. 12), Lazor (No. 15) and Loder (No. 6).

The two teams have numerous common opponents this season in Air Force, SIUE and Missouri. Both teams defeated SIUE, but lost to Air Force and Missouri. The Panthers also visited Northern Colorado (W, 40-6) and travel to North Dakota State on Sunday. UNI competed at the Cliff Keen Invitational, as well, and finished eighth.

Live scoring for the dual are available via TrackWrestling.com and live video is available via GoJacks.com.

Northern Iowa Probable Starters
125 - Ryan Jauch (4-5)
133 - No. 9 Levi Wolfensperger (18-6)
141 - No. 15 Joey Lazor (24-7)
149 - No. 26 Bart Reiter (10-4)
157 - No. 18 David Bonin (19-6)
165 - Jarrett Jensen (13-11)
174 - No. 21 Cody Caldwell (23-6)
184 - No. 6 Ryan Loder (23-3)
197 - Blaize Cabell (10-10)
285 - Blayne Beale (11-7)

SDSU Probable Starters
125 - Aaron Pickrel (10-11)
133 - Brance Simms (16-12)
141 - Ben Gillette (5-15)
149 - No. 31 Dustin Walraven (20-10)
157 - Cody Pack (13-10)
165 - Joe Brewster (9-12)
174 - John Nething II (6-13)
184 - Shea Nolan (5-10)
197 - Joe Skow (3-9)
285 - J.J. Everard (5-13)

- SDSU continues its five-dual homestand versus Utah Valley. It is SDSU's third Western Wrestling Conference dual this season. Dual time is set for 7 p.m. in Frost Arena.

Utah Valley won its first conference dual of the season last weekend versus Northern Colorado and is currently fourth in the league standings.

No. 24 Air Force Falcons
- SDSU was downed in the weekend opener at Air Force 41-5 and topped in the closer versus Western State 25-11.

In the weekend opener, Air Force won the first three matches of Sunday's dual, built a 13-0 lead and SDSU was unable to recover in its second Western Wrestling Conference bout.

In the opening match at 125 pounds, Aaron Pickrel faced Josh Martinez. Martinez is nationally ranked by Intermat (11), Gregg Henry's/Wrestling Report (11) and the NCAA coaches' panel rankings (10). Pickrel wrestled tough, but allowed a late takedown, which pushed Martinez's decision to a 12-4 major decision.

Brance Simms wrestled Dylan Hyder at 133. Hyder built an early lead and Simms was unable to comeback and lost a 10-3 decision.

At 141 pounds, Ben Gillette took on Carter McElhany. McElhany scored a pin in the second period to put the Jacks in a 13-0 hole after three matches.

The lone bright spot for the Jackrabbits was the ever-consistent performance of Dustin Walraven. Walraven lined up versus Logan Burch, as Air Force deviated from its probable starters (No. 4 Cole VonOhlen). Walraven made the most of his opportunity, built a big lead and closed out Burch with a 19-4, third-period tech fall.

In the 157-pound match, Cody Pack faced Josh Kreimier, who is ranked by Gregg Henry's/Wrestling Report (22) and the NCAA coaches' panel rankings (23). After two tough periods, Kreimier added another pin to the Air Force lead.

Joe Brewster squared off versus Jesse Stafford at 165. Brewster kept it close, but Stafford notched a 9-5 decision and pushed the Falcons' lead to 22-5.

At 174, John Nething II faced Dan Barringer. Barringer built a lead and held on for a 13-4 major decision for the third-straight Air Force win.

In the 184-pound match, Shea Nolan wrestled Devin Hightower. The match was all Hightower, who built a big lead through two periods and closed out the match in the third with a 15-0 tech fall.

Air Force extended its lead at 197, as Josh Mohr notched a 14-0 major decision versus Joe Skow. Mohr was the final Falcons' wrestler ranked by any wrestling publication (No. 32, Gregg Henry's/Wrestling Report).

The Falcons closed out the dual with a pin at 285 by Bentley Alsup versus J.J. Everard.

Western State Mountaineers
- In the closing dual, SDSU was downed by Western State, 25-11.

In the opening match at 125 pounds, Aaron Pickrel scored a narrow 3-1 decision to put the Jacks on top early.

Brance Simms followed Pickrel's performance with a tight match at 133 pounds, as well. Simms secured a 5-4 decision and added to SDSU's lead.

Western State found the scoreboard at 141 with a 14-7 decision.

At 149 pounds, Dustin Walraven led 4-1 with riding time advantage, but was forced to injury default. The result put the Mountaineers on top for the first time.

Cody Pack put the Jacks back on track at 157 with a dominant 18-2 tech fall.

But after that SDSU win, Western State went on a run. One match later at 165 pounds, Western State added to its total with a 7-5 decision. The Mountaineers added a major decision from its nationally ranked wrestler at 174 and another decision at 184.

The three-match winning streak pushed the Western State lead to 19-11 and backed SDSU into a must-win corner with two matches remaining.

But the Mountaineers sealed the dual one match later with a 4-3 decision at 197.

In the closing match, Western State added another decision to its dual total for a 25-11 win.

- Coach Bono coached the Simpson dual on Jan. 11 barefoot to raise awareness for Samaritan's Feet. Coach Bono is the first wrestling coach to join the movement and is the first Division I coach to participate barefoot in 2013.

The dual preceded Coach Nagy's barefoot men's basketball game on Jan. 26.

"If by me doing this, we can put one pair of shoes on somebody who does not have shoes, then it is worth it," said Bono. "Anything we can do to support the cause, and it is a great one, we are happy to do it."

Samaritan's Feet is a non-profit, humanitarian aid organization and so much more - a community of more than 70,000 volunteers who have joined together to make a difference in the lives of children in need in every corner of the world. Over four million impoverished children and adults in more than 60 nations being served by having their feet washed, receiving a new pair of shoes and hearing a message of hope.

Samaritan's Feet and its team of global ambassadors have touched the lives of men, women and children across the United States and around the world in an effort to help the nearly 300 million people who go without shoes each day and the more than a million who die each year as a result. Through this simple act of humility and servant-leadership, our team members and volunteers are expressing love, compassion, and a message that brings hope.

Nearly 300 million people go without shoes each day and millions are plagued with foot-borne illnesses that may be preventable by simple protection - shoes.

For more information or to donate to Samaritan's Feet visit its website and click on SDSU Wrestling-Coach Bono.

- Head coach Chris Bono and assistant coaches Israel Silva and Andrew Sorenson announced the signing of the sixth-best recruiting class in the nation (The Open Mat, Amateur Wrestling News).

Eight student-athletes joined the Jackrabbit wrestling team on signing day, including three ranked by Amateur Wrestling News. Brandon Brunner, Hank Goettl, Colin Holler, Coltan Laganiere, Paul Mascarenas, Austin Oyen, Nathan Rotert and Matt Seabold make up the best recruiting class in SDSU history.

The No. 6 ranking makes it the best recruiting class for any sport in the history of Jackrabbit athletics.

South Dakota State and the wrestling coaching staff announced the addition of Alex Kocer to the Jackrabbit wrestling team.

Kocer is a South Dakota five-time state champion from Wagner, S.D. Kocer won the 152-pound Class B state title as a senior in 2012 en route to an undefeated season (44-0). He first climbed the championship ladder in 2008 at 103 pounds and won three titles between his first and last (2009 at 118 pounds, 2010 at 130 and 2011 at 152).

In effect, Kocer joins next year’s recruiting class, already touted as one of the best in the nation (The Open Mat, Amateur Wrestling News).



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