College Wrestling

No. 11 South Dakota State comes up short against No. 7 Missouri

Jackrabbits won five of 10 matches on Sunday, but fell to Tigers 21-19

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BROOKINGS — The South Dakota State wrestling team fought hard on Sunday afternoon but the No. 11 ranked Jackrabbits fell to No. 7 Missouri 21-19 in a dual at Frost Arena.

“It was an exciting dual,” said SDSU head coach Damion Hahn. “Coming out of it on the short end of the stick sucks. We had a great crowd. We knew the matches were going to be tough and we couldn’t make mistakes and they had the personnel to get bonus points. We knew that was going to be important.”

SDSU won five of the ten matches on Sunday. No. 13 ranked Tanner Jordan kicked things off for the Jacks in the 125-pound weight class and lost a 14-6 major decision to No. 8 Noah Surtin. No. 18 ranked Derrick Cardinal took the mat next for the Jacks and he won a 14-5 major decision over Drew Stanfield in the 133-pound weight class. That tied things up at 4-4 through two matches.

Missouri and SDSU then split the next two matches as well. No. 24 ranked Josh Edmund picked up the win for the Tigers at 141 and he won a 3-2 decision over Caleb Gross. No. 22 ranked Alek Martin then tied things up with a 5-0 decision over Joel Mylin at 149 and that made it 7-7 heading into the final match before the intermission.

The match before the intermission was at 157 and it was between No. 16 ranked Cael Swensen of SDSU and No. 12 ranked Brock Mauller. Mauller would pick up a 4-1 decision after getting a late takedown and the Tigers held a 10-7 lead heading into the last five matches.

Hahn said he thought the match at 157 was the swing match of the dual and unfortunately the Jacks didn’t come out on top.

“Going into [the dual] I knew it was shaping up to be a 5-5 split. We needed to win six. I really believed that. We needed to win six and 157 was that match. … I don’t want to say that was the dual because you have 10 weights, but that match was big. We knew it was going to be a slower paced match. [Mauller], I don’t know if he has a leg attack. He moves forward and pushes and is good on top. … We have to convert. Swensen got in on a couple attacks and it didn’t convert to a score,” Hahn said.

Connor Gaynor took the mat for SDSU out of the intermission and he drew the task of taking on No. 1 ranked Keegan O’Toole in the 165-pound weight class. O’Toole won with ease as he picked up a 23-5 technical fall and that gave the Tigers a 15-7 lead. 

SDSU then picked up three-straight wins. No. 4 ranked Cade DeVos took the mat at 174 for the Jacks and he took on No. 11 Peyton Mocco. DeVos won a 5-0 decision and that cut the Missouri lead to 15-10. No. 8 Bennett Berge was up next for SDSU and he faced Colton Hawks at 184. Berge won the match with a 10-6 decision and that cut the Tiger lead to 15-13 with two matches to go.

The marquee match of the afternoon was up next and it took place in the 197-pound weight class. It was No. 4 ranked Tanner Sloan against No. 8 Rocky Elam in a rematch of last year's national semifinal that Sloan won. Rocky Elam picked up a take down in the second period but Sloan pinned him four minutes and 36 seconds into the match and that gave SDSU a 19-15 lead.

“That first period I knew he was going to try to sneak one out like he did,” Sloan said. “He’s long, so I know he can get to my legs. I knew going in that I needed to keep it 0-0 or have a takedown for him to go down. … I knew I was going to have to bring the pressure. He was running and running and running from me. 

“I got my hands on him and he got extended and that’s a headlock that you don’t see very often from me. It’s kind of a feel thing, it’s not drilled. It worked out. It was tight and when I saw there was 19 seconds left [in the round], I had to put a little more effort in because I didn’t realize how close it was.”

Sloan was fired up after the pin and was urging on the crowd. He said that the win likely locked up the No. 1 seed for him at the Big 12 Championships, which will be played on March 9 and 10 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

“That should solidify me as the one seed at the Big 12 tournament. 197 is not [an easy weight class] by any means, but that’s a little extra boost. I guarantee I see [Elam] again at the Big 12’s or the national tournament. He’s going to be hungry for it. We’ve gone back and forth. That was our fifth match [against each other] and it was every other until [today]. I know that with the consistency I’ve built throughout the season, I was pretty confident even though I was down 3-0,” Sloan said.

The final match of the afternoon was the heavyweight bout and it was between Brookings native Luke Rassmussen and No. 5 ranked Luke Elam. Elam made quick work of Rassmussen, pinning him 33 seconds into the match and that gave the Tigers the 21-19 win.

Clay Carlson is the normal starter at 141 for SDSU but he wrestled in a tournament in Wyoming this weekend. Hahn said Carlson needed extra matches to be able to qualify for the national tournament.

SDSU is now 12-4 overall and 6-2 in the Big 12. SDSU was coming off of a 31-6 loss to No. 2 ranked Oklahoma State and Hahn said he liked the way his team bounced back from a loss that wasn’t as bad as the score said.

“It was huge [to bounce back and get five wins on Sunday],” Hahn said. “I told the guys before the dual, I said ‘listen, we only have so many opportunities left this season to wrestle at home.’ … I think coming off of last weekend with Oklahoma State, I don’t think the score was indicative of the overall performance. We lost three overtime matches and dang, we were right there. 

“… I thought it was good coming in and picking up those five [wins]. Hell, it would have been better to pick up one more, but it wasn’t in the cards today. It wasn’t for lack of fight or lack of effort. I love our guys and I think they step on the line and they battle.”

The Jacks will close out the regular season next weekend in Brookings. SDSU will be taking on North Dakota State in the battle for the Border Bell. The match is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. at Frost Arena.