BROOKINGS, S.D. (SDSU) — Following an undefeated month of January, the South Dakota State wrestling team takes to the mat for the first time in February by hosting its final two home duals of the season this weekend.

The 16th-ranked Jackrabbits, 11-2 overall and 5-0 against Big 12 Conference foes, open the weekend against seventh-ranked and perennial national power Oklahoma State. Action Friday night is slated to start at 7 p.m. at Frost Arena.

SDSU brings a 10-match winning streak into Friday’s dual. The Jackrabbits stayed unbeaten in Big 12 action with wins at Northern Colorado (23-13) and Air Force (26-16) Jan. 27 and 29, respectively. During their current winning streak, the Jackrabbits have outscored the opposition by a 345-71 margin.

Oklahoma State also enters the week with an 11-2 overall dual record following two victories over top-10 teams last week. The Cowboys, who are 6-1 in the Big 12, knocked off Michigan, 24-15, on Feb. 3 in Arlington, Texas, before returning home to post a 17-16 victory over No. 8 Missouri on Feb. 5.

Sunday, the Jackrabbits will welcome Oklahoma to Frost Arena for a 1 p.m. Senior Day dual. Five members of the SDSU senior class will be honored about 10 minutes prior to the start of the dual. The first 200 fans will receive a Jackrabbit wrestling hat courtesy of Corteva.

Oklahoma begins the week with an 8-6 overall record, including a 1-4 mark in Big 12 duals. The Sooners, who split home duals last weekend against Missouri (L, 3-33) and Rider (W, 24-6), are slated to wrestle Friday night at North Dakota State.

Both of this weekend’s duals are scheduled to be available for viewing through (subscription required).

125:     #25 Tanner Jordan • Jr., St. Paris, Ohio (14-11 overall, 7-6 duals) 
133:     Derrick Cardinal • R-Fr., Forest Lake, Minn. (9-11 overall, 5-7 duals)
141:     #10 Clay Carlson • Sr., Willmar, Minn. (15-6 overall, 9-4 duals)
or        Caleb Gross • Jr., Pound, Wis. (8-5 overall, 1-0 duals)
149:     Alek Martin • R-Fr., St. Paris, Ohio (16-10 overall, 8-4 duals)
157:     #18 Cael Swensen • R-Fr., Plymouth, Minn. (18-5 overall, 11-1 duals)
165:     #14 Tanner Cook • Jr., Ilion, N.Y. (14-2 overall, 9-1 duals)
or        Connor Gaynor, R-Fr., Mokena, Ill. (2-3 overall, 2-1 duals)
174:     #13 Cade DeVos • Jr., Altoona, Iowa (18-5 overall, 10-3 duals)
184:     #17 Cade King • Sr., Waseca, Minn. (15-5 overall, 9-2 duals)
197:     #9 Tanner Sloan • Sr., Alburnett, Iowa (17-1 overall, 11-0 duals)
285:     #12 A.J. Nevills • Grad., Clovis, Calif. (15-4 overall, 11-1 duals)
            Note: Rankings listed are highest of either Intermat or FloWrestling rankings as of Feb. 7, 2023

SERIES vs. OKLAHOMA STATE: The Jackrabbits are in search of their first-ever dual win against Oklahoma State as the Cowboys have won all six meetings since the series began with a 25-9 victory during the 2014-15 season.

Oklahoma State claimed a 29-6 victory on its home mat last season, winning four of the five matchups between ranked wrestlers. SDSU’s two victories in the dual were recorded by Clay Carlson at 141 pounds and Tanner Sloan at 197 pounds — both by 3-1 decisions.

The Jackrabbits will be hosting Oklahoma State for the first time since the 2018-19 season, which was Damion Hahn‘s first as SDSU head coach.

#10 Oklahoma State 29, #23 South Dakota State 6 (Feb. 4, 2022 • Stillwater, Okla.)
125: #8 Trevor Mastrogiovanni (OSU) dec. Tanner Jordan (SDSU), 2-1
133: #2 Daton Fix (OSU) def. Gabriel Tagg (SDSU), by fall 5:55
141: #9 Clay Carlson (SDSU) dec. #17 Carter Young (OSU), 3-1
149: #13 Kaden Gfeller (OSU) dec. Daniel Kimball (SDSU), 4-0
157: #14 Wyatt Sheets (OSU) major dec. Kenny O’Neil (SDSU), 10-1
165: #8 Travis Wittlake (OSU) dec. #30 Tanner Cook (SDSU), 3-1
174:  #10 Dustin Plott (OSU) dec. #9 Cade DeVos (SDSU), 5-3
184: #8 Dakota Geer (OSU) major dec. #33 Cade King (SDSU), 16-7
197: #12 Tanner Sloan (SDSU) dec. Gavin Stika (OSU), 3-1
285: #33 Luke Surber (OSU) dec. #20 A.J. Nevills (SDSU), 6-3

SERIES vs. OKLAHOMA: The series against Oklahoma dates back to the 1969-70 season, when the Sooners recorded a 31-2 victory.

The two squads wouldn’t meet again until South Dakota State joined the Big 12 as an affiliate member at the start of the 2015-16 season. The Jackrabbits and Sooners have met each season since, OU holding a 5-3 series advantage.

Oklahoma was won each of the last two matchups, including a narrow, 16-15 decision on Feb. 6, 2022, at McCasland Fieldhouse in Norman, Oklahoma. All 10 matches went the distance, with Oklahoma earning the decisive point on criteria by outscoring the Jackrabbits, 39-33.

#25 Oklahoma 16, #23 South Dakota State 15 (Feb. 6, 2022 • Norman, Okla.)
125: #24 Joey Prata (OU) dec. Tanner Jordan (SDSU), 8-2
133: Gabriel Tagg (SDSU) dec. #15 Anthony Madrigal (OU), 7-1
141: #9 Clay Carlson (SDSU) dec. Jacob Butler (OU), 9-5
149: #21 Willie McDougald (OU) dec. Daniel Kimball (SDSU), 8-3
157:| #14 Justin Thomas (OU) dec. Kenny O’Neil (SDSU), 8-3
165: #29 Joe Grello (OU) dec. #30 Tanner Cook (SDSU), 2-0
174: #20 Anthony Mantanona (OU) dec. #9 Cade DeVos (SDSU), 3-1 [SV-1]
184: #33 Cade King (SDSU) dec. Keegan Moore (OU), 4-3
197: #12 Tanner Sloan (SDSU) dec. #7 Jake Woodley (OU), 2-0
285: #20 A.J. Nevills (SDSU) dec. #28 Josh Heindselman (OU), 2-1 [TB-1]

RECENT ACTION: The Jackrabbits remained unbeaten in Big 12 Conference duals and upped their overall winning streak to10 duals with hard-fought road victories at Northern Colorado and Air Force.

South Dakota State 23, Northern Colorado 13
The South Dakota State wrestling team got off to a rocky start in its Jan. 27 dual against Northern Colorado, but claimed the final six matches to pull away for a 23-13 victory at Bank of Colorado Arena in Greeley, Colorado.

UNC held the early momentum on its home mat by winning the first four matches, including two matchups between ranked wrestlers, to build a 13-0 lead. At 125 pounds, the Bears’ 16th-ranked Stevo Poulin notched a 9-2 decision over No. 30 Tanner Jordan, while Jace Koelzer followed with a 6-4 overtime decision over the Jackrabbits’ Derrick Cardinal at 133 pounds.

In a highly anticipated matchup at 141 pounds, top-ranked Andrew Alirez of Northern Colorado grabbed a 4-1 first-period lead against 10th-ranked Clay Carlson and held the Jackrabbit without a takedown in picking up three more points with a 10-3 decision.

The UNC lead grew to double digits when Chris Sandoval completed a 10-2 major decision over Alek Martin in the 149-pound bout.

Redshirt freshman Cael Swensen, ranked 19th at 157 pounds, stemmed the tide with a hard-fought, 4-2 decision over No. 31 Vinny Zerban, while the Jackrabbit veterans in the upper weights asserted themselves down the stretch.

SDSU pulled to within 13-9 when 15th-ranked Tanner Cook was awarded the victory by default in his bout with Baylor Fernandes. Cook appeared to suffer an arm injury on what was determined to be an illegal hold or move by his opponent, leading to Cook being declared the winner and the Jackrabbits being awarded six team points.

Back-to-back decisions by the Cades — DeVos at 174 pounds and King in the 184-pound matchup — gave the Jackrabbits a lead they would not relinquish. Tanner Sloan then followed with a first-period pin against Xavier Vasquez and heavyweight A.J. Nevills also stayed unbeaten in dual action this season by closing out the contest with an 8-4 decision over Xavier Doolin.

South Dakota State 26, Air Force 16
Pins by Cade DeVos and Tanner Jordan in the first half of the dual lifted South Dakota State to its 10th consecutive win, a 26-16 victory over Air Force Jan. 29 at Clune Arena.

With the dual starting at 174 pounds, the 15th-ranked DeVos ignited a fast start for the Jackrabbits by posting a first-period fall in his match against Gage Musser.

A 4-3 decision by Cade King at 184 pounds and a 17-0 technical fall by Tanner Sloan gave SDSU a 14-0 lead through three matches. King’s victory was his ninth in a row — all by decision during the Jackrabbits’ dual winning streak — and Sloan ran his personal winning streak to 14 matches.

Air Force got on the board with technical-fall victories in two of the next three matches. First, sixth-ranked Wyatt Hendrickson handed the Jackrabbits’ A.J. Nevills his first dual loss of the season with a 16-1 technical fall in a match that ended late in the third period.

The other technical fall for the Falcons was recorded at 133 pounds by No. 21 Cody Phippen, who blanked Derrick Cardinal, 15-0, early in the third period.

In between the two Air Force victories, Jordan put Tucker Owens’ shoulders to the mat midway through the third period of their 125-pound matchup. The bout was scoreless through two periods before Jordan scored on an escape and takedown before coming away with the fall.

Adding wins by decision for the Jackrabbits in the second half of the dual were two ranked wrestlers: 141-pounder Clay Carlson and 157-pounder Cael Swensen.

RABBITS RANKED: The South Dakota State wrestling team began the season ranked in the top 25 after being included in a pair of national polls and have maintained a national ranking for most of the 2022-23 campaign.

The Jackrabbits checked in at No. 22 in the preseason poll conducted by InterMat and were ranked 25th in the initial National Wrestling Coaches Association survey. SDSU was one of five Big 12 Conference programs ranked in the NWCA top 25, joining No. 4 Missouri, No. 10 Oklahoma State, No. 14 Iowa State and No. 20 UNI.

Following their strong showing at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational in early December, the Jackrabbits climbed seven spots to No. 18 in the NWCA poll for their highest ranking under head coach Damion Hahn. SDSU slipped one spot to 19th after its Dec. 18 dual loss to Nebraska but moved back to No. 18 following another stellar performance earlier this month at the Virginia Duals. The Jackrabbits have moved up two more spots over the past couple weeks to No. 16, marking their highest ranking during head coach Damion Hahn‘s five-year tenure.

SDSU also has a season-high eight wrestlers ranked individually for the ninth week in a row, with 197-pounder Tanner Sloan holding the highest ranking at No. 9 in both the InterMat and FloWrestling polls.
Adding a top10 ranking is 141-pounder Clay Carlson, who is ranked 10th by InterMat and 11th by FloWrestling this week.

Cael Swensen, who is No. 18 in the 157-pound rankings by FloWrestling and Tanner Jordan at 125 pounds (25th by InterMat) each joined the rankings after their outings at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational.

Other returning NCAA qualifiers Cade DeVos (13th at 174 pounds by FloWrestling and InterMat) and A.J. Nevills (12th at heavyweight by FloWrestling) have maintained top-20 rankings throughout the season, while Tanner Cook (14th by FloWrestling at 165 pounds) and Cade King (17th at 184 pounds by  FloWrestling) round out the list of SDSU’s ranked wrestlers. 

COOK, NEVILLS AMONG PIN LEADERS: Two South Dakota State wrestlers enter the weekend ranked in the top 10 among Division I wrestlers for wins by fall this season.

Jackrabbit 165-pounder Tanner Cook enters the week ranked sixth with nine wins by fall against D-I competition. A junior from Ilion, New York, Cook has needed only 15 minutes and 19 seconds of mat time to post his nine falls, with six of those pins occurring in less than a minute. He last added to his total with two pins in action Jan. 13-14 at the Virginia Duals.

Cook was honored Dec. 20 as Big 12 Conference Wrestler of the Week after pinning  13th-ranked Bubba Wilson of Nebraska in only 29 seconds in dual action Dec. 18. He brings a 14-2 season record and a 55-17 career mark into competition this weekend.

At heavyweight, SDSU’s A.J. Nevills ranks in a tie for eight place with eight wins by fall. Nevills has recorded his eight pins against D-I opponents in 25 minutes and 38
seconds, adding to his total with a Jan. 22 pin against Wyoming’s Mason Ding.

DUAL-MEET DOMINANCE: South Dakota State has dominated the upper two weights in dual meets over the last two seasons thanks to the contributions of 197-pounder Tanner Sloan and heavyweight A.J. Nevills.

Sloan, a senior from Alburnett, Iowa, is 22-1 in duals over the last two seasons. Since dropping his first dual match of the 2021-22 season to Michial Foy of Minnesota, Sloan has won 22 consecutive dual matchups.

For his career, Sloan has compiled a 46-4 dual record and has yet to drop a home match. He went a perfect 11-0 in duals during the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season after posting a 13-3 mark as a redshirt freshman.

Nevills, a graduate student from Clovis, California, has turned in a 25-4 dual record since joining the lineup at the start of the 2021-22 season as a transfer from Fresno State. Nevills went 14-3 in duals last season en route to a trip to nationals and is 11-1 so far this season after dropping a Jan. 29 match to No. x Wyatt Hendrickson of Air Force.

Sloan holds an 11-0 season record in duals heading into the weekend.
 Two members of the Jackrabbit wrestling team recently earned individual silver medals in international competition.

In August, incoming freshman Bennett Berge earned a silver medal in the 86-kilogram weight class at the 2022 U20 World Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria.

A native of Mantorville, Minnesota, and a member of the Pinnacle Wrestling Club, Berge posted a 4-1 record over two days of competition. He won his first three matches all by technical fall before recording a come-from-behind, 9-7 victory over Ismail Kucuksolak of Turkey in the semifinals. In the championship bout against Rakhim Magamadov of France, Berge lost a 10-5 decision.

Besides his runner-up finish in his weight class, Berge brought home another silver medal as Team USA placed second in the team standings behind Iran. Berge was one of four Americans to medal in the freestyle division.

At the prep level, Berge totaled 241 career victories, posting a 124-1 record over his final three seasons at Kasson-Mantorvile High School. He won five consecutive individual state titles at five different weight classes (138, 160, 170, 182, 195), capping his senior season with a 52-0 record.

In October, Tanner Sloan reached the finals of the 97-kilogram division at the U23 World Championships held in Pontevedra, Spain.

Sloan, a three-time NCAA qualifier at 197 pounds from Alburnett, Iowa, posted a 3-1 record in a two-day span. After winning his first three bouts, Sloan dropped a 5-3 decision to Amirali Azarpira of Iran in the gold medal match on Oct. 22.

Sloan previously competed at the 2019 UWW Junior World Championships in Tallinn, Estonia, after opening international competition by winning the gold medal at the UWW Pan American Championship in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

BIG 12 SUCCESS: Now in its eighth season as an affiliate member of the Big 12 Conference for wrestling, South Dakota State has proven it can contend in one of the top wrestling leagues in the country.

Since joining the league at the start of the 2015-16 season, the Jackrabbits have combined to post a 42-20 record (.677 winning percentage) in duals against Big 12 opponents, with seven of those losses coming during the 2018-19 campaign.

SDSU posted an 8-0 mark in Big 12 duals during the 2017-18 season and turned in a 5-2 record last season.

The Jackrabbits also turned in back-to-back third-place efforts at the Big 12 Wrestling Championship in 2017 and 2018, after a fourth-place finish at their inaugural league meet in 2016. SDSU posted another fourth-place finish in 2020, improving six spots in the team standings from the previous season.

NEW FACILITY OPENS: South Dakota State marked the start of the calendar year by moving into a new home with the opening of the 16,000-square-foot Kurtenbach Family Wrestling Center.

The South Dakota Board of Regents approved plans for the project in December 2020 and ground was broken in September 2021 for the $4 million on-campus training facility, which is located on the southwest corner of the Sanford-Jackrabbit Athletic Complex. Former SDSU wrestler and coach Frank Kurtenbach provided the lead gift for the facility, which features four competition mats, plus a strength and conditioning area, locker rooms, team room, coaches’ offices and spaces for academics and nutrition.

“This state-of-the-art wrestling facility will forever change the landscape of SDSU Wrestling,” SDSU head coach Damion Hahn said. “I can’t thank our Jackrabbit family enough for the contributions that have been made toward this endeavor. I would like to make a special thank you to the Kurtenbach family for their vision and support of the project.”

COACH HAHN: Damion Hahn is overseeing a successful rebuilding of South Dakota State University wrestling as he enters his fifth season at the helm of the Jackrabbits’ program. Hahn has compiled a 44-28 career dual record and has coached four All-Americans and 14 NCAA qualifiers during his tenure in Brookings.

During the 2019-20 season, the National Wrestling Coaches Association selected 149-pounder Henry Pohlmeyer, 184-pounder Zach Carlson and 197-pounder Tanner Sloan as second-team All-Americans after the NCAA Championships were canceled at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also during the 2019-20 campaign, the Jackrabbits turned in their first winning dual season under Hahn by posting a 12-6 overall record, including a 6-3 mark in the Big 12. Included in the dual wins were victories over nationally ranked Northern Iowa and Stanford.

SDSU also improved by six spots in the Big 12 Conference tournament, finishing fourth in the team standings at the 2020 competition.

Highlighting the 2020-21 season, Clay Carlson wrestled his way to an eighth-place finish at nationals in the 141-pound division. Carlson also was honored as the 2021 Big 12 Wrestling Scholar-Athlete of the Year, an award he would receive again the following year.

In all, five SDSU wrestlers earned a trip to the NCAA Championships in March 2021.

The Jackrabbits returned to the winning side of the ledger during the 2021-22 campaign and also cracked the national rankings as a team for the first time since early in Hahn’s first season. SDSU compiled a 13-4 dual record that included a 21-12 victory at ninth-ranked Missouri, marking the program’s first dual win over a top-10 opponent.

In postseason competition, SDSU placed sixth at the 2022 Big 12 Wrestling Championship and set four wrestlers on to the NCAA Championships in Detroit.

Hahn’s teams also have performed well in the classroom, earning Top 30 Scholar Team All-America honors from the National Wrestling Coaches Association each of the past two seasons. The 2021-22 squad ranked seventh among Division I programs with a 3.465 grade-point average and six Jackrabbits were recognized individually as NWCA Scholar All-America honorees.

Hahn was hired at SDSU on April 9, 2018, following more than a decade of success as a member of the coaching staff at Cornell (N.Y.).

“Damion represents everything we are looking for in being able to take our wrestling program to the next level,” said SDSU Director of Athletics Justin Sell in announcing the hire. “His success both as a collegiate wrestler and coach, along with his ability to recruit high-achieving student-athletes on and off the mat, made him the ideal candidate. He is a tremendous ambassador for the sport who will work tirelessly to ensure wrestling thrives both on our campus and across the country.”

Hahn spent 12 years as an assistant coach and later the associate head coach at Cornell in Ithaca, New York. During his tenure, the Big Red recorded 11 top-10 team finishes at the NCAA Championships, including consecutive runner-up finishes in 2010 and 2011. He mentored 50 All-Americans, 12 of whom were individual NCAA champs.

Cornell also won 12 straight Ivy League dual championships and 11 consecutive Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association team titles.

In accepting his first head coaching position, Hahn made a return to the Midwest. As a collegiate wrestler at Minnesota, Hahn won NCAA individual national titles as a junior and senior. A four-time All-American, he also was a three-time Big 10 individual champion and was named the Jesse Owens Big 10 Male Athlete of the Year in 2004.

The Golden Gophers won team NCAA championships during both his freshman and sophomore seasons. He finished his collegiate career with a 118-21 record.

Hahn was inducted into the University of Minnesota’s M Club Hall of Fame in 2018.

THE ROSTER: The 2022-23 South Dakota State wrestling roster is made up of 35 student-athletes from 11 different states from coast to coast. South Dakota and Minnesota have the most wrestlers with eight, while seven hail from Iowa. Three Jackrabbit wrestlers are from Ohio, with a pair from North Dakota and Wisconsin. Five states have produced one wrestler each: California, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington.

By class, six are seniors, 11 are juniors and nine are redshirt freshmen. Eight wrestlers are incoming freshman, with one being a graduate student. There are no sophomores on this season’s squad.

A LOOK AHEAD: The Jackrabbits wrap up the dual season with a Feb. 19 matchup at rival North Dakota State. Start time is set for 2 p.m. at Bentson Bunker Fieldhouse on the NDSU campus in Fargo, North Dakota.