South Dakota State's Tanner Sloan to wrestle for national title at NCAA championships

The senior from Alburnett, Iowa will wrestle for the national championship at 197 pounds on Saturday night after a pair of wins on Friday over the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds.

NCAA Wrestling: NCAA Championships
South Dakota State wrestler Tanner Sloan (red ankles) wrestles Cal Poly wrestler Bernie Truax in a 197-pound weight class quarterfinal during the NCAA Wrestling Championships at the BOK Center on Friday, March 17, 2023 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Brett Rojo / USA Today Sports

TULSA, Okla. — South Dakota State's Tanner Sloan felt the emotion of the moment on Friday night.

The senior animal science major from Alburnett, Iowa will wrestle for the national championship at 197 pounds on Saturday night after a pair of wins on Friday over the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds in his bracket at the BOK Center in Tulsa at the NCAA Championships.

"When the final whistle blew, looking over at the coaches, the pure excitement that I see in their face of all the hard work we've done training, methodical, whatever you want to call it," Sloan said in a postmatch press conference. "Just to finally be in the position to reach my ultimate goal is pretty amazing."

Sloan (27-2) will wrestle Pittsburgh's Nino Bonaccorsi (20-0), who is the top-seed in the 197-pound weight class. The championship round starts at 6 p.m. Saturday and airs on ESPN.

Sloan won his semifinal 7-2 over third-seeded Rocky Elam, of Missouri. The two wrestled 12 days prior in the Big 12 championship match in the same arena, with Elam getting the win. Sloan got the victory with a massive four-point nearfall late in the second period to break a 2-all tie and then held on in the third period for the victory.


Sloan is a four-time NCAA qualifier and is now 27-2 on the season. He said he focused on being as consistent as possible to reach the championship round.

"For myself, it was just consistency, knowing that I can step toe-to-toe with anyone in that bracket and I've proved it and I've got one more to prove tomorrow," Sloan said. "Just me being consistent and believing in myself."Sloan commended his coaches and teammates for putting him in a position to be successful this season. 

"We're trying to build a program in Brookings, and I couldn't ask for a better coaching staff to do that with," he said. "I'm just really excited for the future of South Dakota State with my final year next year and the years to come."

Sloan locked up All-America honors earlier in the day with a 6-4 win over No. 2 seed Bernie Truax, of Cal Poly. 

For the first time in coach Damion Hahn's era as coach for SDSU, the Jacks had multiple All-Americans, with Sloan joined by Clay Carlson at 141 pounds, with Carlson getting the achievement for the second time. A win would make Sloan the second SDSU wrestler to win a Division I national title after Seth Gross won at 133 pounds in 2018.

Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at
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