FARGO, N.D. – Five South Dakota State Wrestlers reach the Western Wrestling Conference Championship Match, including Cody Pack and J.J. Everard, who each won their respective weight class. With the win, Pack automatically qualifies for his third NCAA Championships, while Everard will be making his NCAA debut.
Brance Simms, Luke Zilverberg and Alex Kocer all made it to the finals, but dropped the title match.
“I’m proud of our two champions,” head coach Chris Bono said. “We had opportunities to send some more kids to the NCAA tournament, but we let them slip away. Now it’s out of our hands, but we will get back in the room with Cody and J.J. and prepare to make a run at NCAA titles.”
Following a first-round bye, #7 Cody Pack beat NDSU’s Grant Nehring by major decision, 17-5, before beating Wyoming’s Archie Colgan, 6-2 for the title.
Junior heavyweight J.J. Everard took a similar route, but had to pull an upset and avenge two previous losses along the way to qualify for the NCAA’s. Everard opened with a 3-2 overtime win against Utah Valley’s Jordan Karst. Evarard then won back-to-back 5-3 decisions over Tanner Harms (Wyoming) and Evan Knutson (NDSU) – both of whom had previously defeated Everard this season.
Brance Simms reached the 133-lbs final, but lost to Utah Valley’s Jade Rauser by fall at 4:37. Simms recorded a 10-0 major decision in the first round against UNC’s Michael Espinoza and a sudden victory win over Wyoming’s Drew Templeman to get to the finals.
Luke Zilverberg earned a second-place finish after dropping a 7-6 TB-2 decision to NDSU’s Mitch Bengtson. Following an opening bye, Zilverberg beat Air Force’s Carter McElhaney 6-4 to get to the finals.
Sophomore Alex Kocer came up short in his quest to qualify for his second national championship as NDSU’s Clay Ream majored Kocer in the finals, 12-2. Kocer opened with a win over Wyoming’s Jake Elliott 11-5.
As a team SDSU finished third in the conference with a score of 56.5. SDSU fell 11 points shy of NDSU which finished first in the conference.
Everard and Pack will resume their season at the NCAA Tournament in St. Louis Missouri on March 19. At-large bids will be announced next week.
NCAA Division I West Regional results
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