ST. LOUIS – Seth Gross earned a spot in the finals and Alex Kocer became South Dakota State's second All-American during competition Friday night at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships.
A sophomore from Apple Valley, Minn., Gross defeated Oklahoma State's Kaid Brock by major decision, 12-3, in 133-pound semifinal action at Scottrade Center. Gross recorded a takedown in the opening minute, then added a four-point near-fall for a 6-0 lead. In the second period, Gross worked from the top and was awarded two points for stalling by Brock for an 8-0 advantage
Brock, whose all three losses this season have come at the hands of Gross, mounted a bit of a comeback in the third period with an escape and takedown, but Gross prevented Brock from further closing the gap.
Gross, 34-1 overall, will wrestle fourth-seeded Cory Clark of Iowa, 19-3 overall, in Saturday night's championship match. The two did not meet in the dual between the two programs in early December.
In the morning session on Friday, Gross secured the Jacks' first All-America honor in the Division I era by avenging his lone loss of the season with an 11-1 major decision over Nebraska's Eric Montoya in quarterfinal action. Gross scored an early takedown and immediately put Montoya on his back for a four-point near-fall to build a 6-0 lead. In the second period, Gross recorded another four-point near-fall, then tacked on the final point of the match with a riding-time advantage of more than three minutes.
Gross has outscored his four opponents at the NCAA Championships by a 43-4 margin.
A senior from Wagner, Kocer joined the list of All-Americans with a 4-2 victory over 14th-seeded Steve Bleise of Northern Illinois. Bleise recorded a first-period takedown and led 2-1 heading into the third period. Kocer, who rode out the entire second period to build up a riding-time advantage, scored on a reversal in the first 40 seconds of the third period and held off a Bleise challenge at the end.
Wrestling later in the evening, Kocer was defeated by fourth-seeded Micah Jordan of Ohio State, 19-4. Kocer, 30-10 overall, will wrestle 15th-seeded Kenny Theobald of Rutgers, 25-11 overall, in the seventh-place match Saturday morning in what will be Kocer's final collegiate match.
Kocer was sent to the 149-pound consolation bracket after losing by technical fall, 19-2, to top-seeded and defending national champion Zain Retherford of Penn State in action Friday morning.
Two other Jackrabbit wrestlers previously earned All-America honors at the Division I national championships after qualifying out of the College Division/Division II championships. Greg Schmidt earned a fifth-place finish at 115 pounds in 1970, with Pat Dorn placing eighth at 134 pounds in 1988. SDSU first began competing at the Division I level during the 2004-05 season.
The wins by Gross and Kocer vaulted the Jackrabbits into 16th place in the team standings with 28.5 points. Penn State widened its lead with 121 points, followed by Ohio State (89.5) and Oklahoma State (86). Rounding out the top five teams are Missouri (81.5) and Iowa (74).
Two other Jackrabbits, 165-pounder Luke Zilverberg and Nate Rotert at 197 pounds, were eliminated in wrestlebacks Friday morning. A junior from Belle Plaine, Minnesota, Zilverberg dropped a 10-1 major decision to 12th-seeded Austin Matthews of Edinboro, while the ninth-seeded Rotert fell 2-0 to seventh-seeded Aaron Studebaker of Nebraska. It was the third meeting between Rotert and Studebaker this season, with Studebaker winning the last two matchups.
Zilverberg, who was making his first appearance in the NCAA Championships, ended the season with a 26-10 overall record. A junior from Spearfish, Rotert compiled a 22-9 overall record while earning his third consecutive trip to nationals.
Saturday's morning session begins at 10 a.m., with coverage on ESPNU and ESPN3.com.
The championship matches start at 7 p.m., with ESPN televising the finals.
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE INDIVIDUAL RESULTS
133: No. 2 Seth Gross, Jr., Apple Valley, Minn. [4-0 record, All-American]
dec. Billy Rappo (Maryland), 5-0
tech. fall Joseph Palmer (Oregon State), 15-0 [7:00]
major dec. No. 7 Eric Montoya (Nebraska), 11-1
major dec. No. 3 Kaid Brock (Oklahoma State), 12-3
Championship: vs. No. 4 Cory Clark (Iowa)
149: Alex Kocer, Sr., Wagner, S.D. [3-2 record, All-American]
dec. No. 8 Patricio Lugo (Edinboro), 6-5
dec. No. 9 Justin Oliver (Central Michigan), 5-4
lost to No. 1 Zain Retherford (Penn State), by tech. fall, 19-2 [5:14]
dec. No. 14 Steve Bleise (Northern Illinois), 4-2
lost to No. 4 Micah Jordan (Ohio State), by tech. fall, 19-4 [7:00]
Seventh Place: vs. No. 15 Kenny Theobald (Rutgers)
165: Luke Zilverberg, Jr., Belle Plaine, Minn. [2-2 record]
dec. Tyrel White (Columbia), 6-5
lost to Daniel Lewis (Missouri), by major dec., 8-0
dec. Andrew Mendel (Army), 4-3
lost to No. 12 Austin Matthews (Edinboro), by major dec., 10-1
Zilverberg ends season 26-10 overall
174: David Kocer, Jr., Wagner, S.D. [1-2 record]
lost to No. 5 Mark Hall (Penn State), by dec., 8-2
major dec. Matt Reed (Oklahoma), 8-0
lost to No. 12 Casey Kent (Pennsylvania), 6-0
Kocer ends season 24-10 overall
197: No. 9 Nate Rotert, Jr., Spearfish, S.D. [1-2 record]
lost to Daniel Chaid (North Carolina), by dec., 10-5
dec. Jacob Holschlag (Northern Iowa), 4-1
lost to No. 7 Aaron Studebaker (Nebraska), by dec., 2-0
Rotert ends season 22-9 overall