There’s been nothing easy for Brance Simms as he closes out his first year as a starter on the South Dakota State University wrestling team.
Simms, a Gilmore City native and 2012 graduate of Humboldt High School, has been the regular 133-pounder all season for the SDSU Jackrabbits, who are led by first-year coach Chris Bono.
Competing at the NCAA Division I-A level has been a dream come true for Simms, who has compiled an 18-14 won-loss record over the past four months.
“Competing at this level – conditioning is so important. You have to be in top condition to be competitive,” said Simms, who is known by friends and teammates as ‘Bubba.’ “Everyone up here at this level is a state champion or multiple state champion from high school.”
“But you can’t let rankings and stuff like that bother you. You have to go out and wrestle your match. I’m not winning every match so I’m not an expert at it. But that’s the approach I think you have to take,” Simms said.
SDSU recently closed out its dual season in a 39-4 loss to Northwestern on Feb. 24 in Brookings. The Jackrabbits finished the regular season 5-12 overall, 1-4 in the Western Wrestling Conference.
“It’s a lot different than high school, but the concept is really the same. You still have to work hard and you still have to manage your weight,” Simms said.
“In college you have more free time during the day between classes, compared to high school where you are on a schedule in the building all day, so you have to stay focused and not slack off. You have to manage your time and stay on the ball,” Simms said.
“We have practice at 5 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. every day,” Simms said. “I probably spend up to five hours a day total on wrestling, some days not so much. And then you have to dedicate time to homework and studying.”
Coach Bono has praise for Simms.
“Bubba has been huge for our program. He is one of the hardest workers, if not the hardest worker in our practice room,” Bono said. “For a true freshman to come in and be like that, he’s one of our leaders. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him. Plus, he’s a 4.0 kid in the classroom. He’s a guy that will lead us into the future as well.”
Simms and his teammates are preparing for the NCAA West Regional in Laramie, WY, on Saturday, Mar. 9. The first-place finishers automatically qualify for the NCAA championships to be held in Des Moines Mar. 20-23. Potential at-large entries will be determined.
“Between now and the regional, my focus is to just keep my weight and maintain conditioning. At this point in the season you really can’t do much to improve your conditioning with a week left,” Simms said. “I’ll work on moves and review tape on my opponents this week.”
“Just stay focused and be mentally prepared,” Simms said.
“I think we’re all ready for the regional this week. We’ll have a lot of four and five seeds heading into us, so our work is cut out for us,” Bono said.
See complete story in the Mar. 7 issue of the Independent. Subscribe for full access to both print and electronic editions of the Independent.
SDSU Dual Season
Nov.10–Indiana, 19-18 victory.
Nov.10–Northern Illinois, 26-12 loss.
Nov.10–Tiffin, 32-12 victory.
Nov.18–North Carolina, 36-6 loss
Nov.18–Nebraska, 32-7 loss
Nov.24–Stanford, 22-11 loss
Nov.24–Missouri, 36-3 loss
Dec. 8–SIUE, 27-16 victory
Jan.11–Simpson, 51-0 victory
Jan.20–Wyoming, 21-13 loss
Jan.27–Air Force, 41-5 loss
Jan.27–Western State, 25-11 loss
Feb.1–Northern Iowa, 41-3 loss
Feb.6–Utah Valley, 22-18 loss
Feb.8–Northern Colorado, 28-13 win
Feb.15–North Dakota State, 36-9 loss
Feb.17–Northwestern, 39-4 loss