Kocer & Gross Advance To NCAA Wrestling Championships Sweet 16

Day One Of NCAA Wrestling Tournament In St. Louis

ST. LOUIS, MO – South Dakota State University wrestlers Seth Gross and Alex Kocer each advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships by winning a pair of matches Thursday at Scottrade Center.

Gross, the second-seeded wrestler in the 133-pound weight class, outscored his opponents by a 20-0 margin in improving to 32-1 this season. A sophomore from Apple Valley, Minnesota, Gross posted a dominating 5-0 decision over Maryland’s Billy Rappo during the morning session. He scored an early takedown and kept Rappo on the mat for the majority of the match, racking up nearly six minutes of riding time.

In the Round of 16 Thursday night, Gross raced out to a 6-0 first-period lead en route to a 15-0 technical fall victory over unseeded Joseph Palmer of Oregon State.

Gross will attempt to avenge his only loss of the season in Friday morning’s quarterfinals as he meets seventh-seeded Eric Montoya of Nebraska. Montoya, 28-4 overall, defeated Gross, 2-0, in overtime Dec. 30 at the Midlands Championships in Evanston, Illinois.

Alex Kocer, who was making his third NCAA appearance, knocked off a pair of seeded wrestlers to move on to Friday’s quarterfinals. A senior from Wagner, Kocer drew eighth-seeded Patricio Lugo of Edinboro in the first round of the 149-pound division. Trailing 4-2 entering the third period, Kocer recorded an escape and takedown in the third period, then picked up the decisive point with a riding-time advantage for a 6-5 victory.

Kocer, who improved to 29-8 this season, came away with a 5-4 victory over ninth-seeded Justin Oliver of Central Michigan in the night session. The match was tied at 4-all entering the third period with Kocer in the top position. He rode out the entire period, holding off an Oliver attempt at a reversal in the closing seconds, to pick up the decisive point.

In Friday’s quarterfinals, Kocer will meet top-seeded Zain Retherford of Penn State.

Also advancing to the second day of competition were 165-pounder Luke Zilverberg and Nate Rotert at 197 pounds.

Zilverberg went 2-1 in Thursday action, opening competition with a 6-5 victory over Tyrel White of Columbia in a preliminary round match. In the Round of 32 later in the morning session, Zilverberg dropped an 8-0 major decision to sixth-seeded Daniel Lewis of Missouri.

A junior from Belle Plaine, Minnesota, Zilverberg stayed alive in the championships with a 4-3 decision over Andrew Mendel of Army. He will meet 12th-seeded Austin Matthews of Edinboro in the wrestlebacks Friday morning.

Rotert, seeded ninth at 197 pounds, was knocked off by North Carolina’s Daniel Chaid, 10-5, in first-round action. He came back in the evening session to record a 4-1 decision over Northern Iowa’s Jacob Holschlag to set up a third meeting this season with Nebraska’s Aaron Studebaker in Friday morning’s wrestlebacks.

Studebaker, seeded seventh, defeated Rotert in the finals of the Midlands Championships in December, while Rotert scored an overtime win in the first matchup of the season at the Warren Williamson/Daktronics Open in November.

David Kocer was the lone Jackrabbit qualifier to be eliminated on Thursday as he turned in a 1-2 record. Kocer began the day with an 8-2 loss to fifth-seeded Mark Hall of Penn State.

Kocer opened the evening session by avenging a loss he suffered to Matt Reed of Oklahoma at the Big 12 Conference Championship two weeks ago, turning in a convincing 8-0 major decision over the Sooner wrestler. However, Kocer was eliminated by another nemesis later in the evening as Penn’s Casey Kent knocked Kocer out of the NCAA Championships for the second year in a row with a 6-0 decision. Kocer ended his junior season with a 24-10 record.

The Jackrabbits ended Day 1 tied for 21st in the team standings with nine points to rank second among Big 12 Conference schools. Penn State leads the team race with 30.5 points, followed by Ohio State (26), Oklahoma State (25.5) and Iowa (24.5). Missouri rounds out the top five with 20 points.

Friday’s morning session begins at 10 a.m.

SOUTH DAKOTA STATE RESULTS
133: #2 Seth Gross, Jr., Apple Valley, Minn.
dec. Billy Rappo (Maryland), 5-0
tech. fall Joseph Palmer (Oregon State), 15-0 [7:00]
vs. #7 Eric Montoya (Nebraska)

149: Alex Kocer, Sr., Wagner, S.D.
dec. #8 Patricio Lugo (Edinboro), 6-5
dec. #9 Justin Oliver (Central Michigan), 5-4
vs. #1 Zain Retherford (Penn State)

165: Luke Zilverberg, Jr., Belle Plaine, Minn.
dec. Tyrel White (Columbia), 6-5
lost to Daniel Lewis (Missouri), by major dec., 8-0
dec. Andrew Mendel (Army), 4-3
vs. #12 Austin Matthews (Edinboro)

174: David Kocer, Jr., Wagner, S.D.
lost to #5 Mark Hall (Penn State), by dec., 8-2
major dec. Matt Reed (Oklahoma), 8-0
lost to #12 Casey Kent (Pennsylvania), 6-0
Kocer ends season 24-10 overall

197: #9 Nate Rotert, Jr., Spearfish, S.D.
lost to Daniel Chaid (North Carolina), by dec., 10-5
dec. Jacob Holschlag (Northern Iowa), 4-1
vs. #7 Aaron Studebaker (Nebraska)

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