Editor's Note: Throughout the 2012-13 athletics season, Jackrabbit Athletics will spotlight 40 of the top moments in the 40-year history of Frost Arena. This week's segment focuses on the 1973 NCAA College Division Wrestling Championships.
Frost Arena was open for only a month when the venue hosted the NCAA College Division Wrestling Championships March 2-3, 1973.
The two-day event featured more than 396 wrestlers from 108 different schools, including Jackrabbits in all 10 weight classes. Action took place on 10 mats -- eight mats on the Frost Arena floor and two stationed on the east activity deck on the second level of the arena. In addition, a computerized bracketing system was used for the first time ever at an NCAA championship event.
Leading the South Dakota State contingent was 118-pounder Stan Opp, who earned All-America honors for the third time with a runner-up finish. The second seed, Opp received a first-round bye before recording an overtime decision over Ed Alber of Montclair State (N.J.) in his first match. Opp later defeated Jay McGinley of Wilkes (Pa.), 6-2, before recording a 3-2 decision over seventh-seeded Craig Turnball of Clarion State (Pa.) in the quarterfinals. Opp advanced to the finals with a 14-4 major decision over St. Cloud State's Bruce Thompson.
Opp entered the championship match against fourth-seeded Jack Spates of Slippery Rock (Pa.) unbeaten at 33-0-2. However, the Aberdeen native was taken down on a couple of occasions and ended up settling for his second national runner-up finish in three seasons with a 9-2 decision.
Two other Jackrabbit wrestlers earned All-America honors -- Gerry Person took third at 167 pounds and Dick Vliem garnered sixth place in the 190-pound division.
Person shook off a loss in his second match of the tournament, then reeled off five consecutive victories in the wrestlebacks to finish with 6-1 record over the two days. Person won three of his matches by pin, including a fall over Doug LeRoy of Springfield College (Mass.), who defeated Person earlier in the tournament, in the third-place match.
Vliem won his first two matches before dropping a 6-1 decision to Rich Maras of Seattle Pacific (Wash.) in the quarterfinals. Vliem then recorded victories in his first two bouts in the wrestlebacks before suffering two more setbacks, including his second to Maras in the fifth-place match, to settle for sixth place.
Cal Poly won the sixth of seven consecutive national championships with 108 points. Clarion State ended second with 80, while North Dakota State took third. SDSU, which won the North Central Conference title the previous week, finished sixth in the team standings.