Chris Bono is here to stay
Tony Rotundo Photo – Wrestlers Are Warriors
Chris Bono is here to Jackrabbit fans.
Fresh off of a season of many firsts in South Dakota State program history, head coach Chris Bono was named the Big XII conference Coach of the Year, though Bono was quick to attribute the honor as credit to the effort of his entire team.
“It’s not me,” Bono said on this weekend’s Takedown Radio program, “I got a great team around me, starting with our Athletic Director, running all the way down to my kids, and my assistant coaches that do a majority of the work. So really I told these guys it’s not a “me” award it’s a “we”award, and team award. It’s great to be recognized by the Big XII, but really its our team that deserves that Big XII Coach of the Year.”
Despite Bono’s modesty, he led the Jackrabbits to a 16th place finish at the NCAA championships this past month, with Seth Gross and Alex Kocer earning the program’s first ever All-American honors. Gross was also the program’s first ever Big XII individual champion.
Bono also credited the South Dakota State fanbase for helping give rise to the program.
“We averaged over 1,800 fans in the stands for I think we had eight home duals.”
To put that in perspective, prior to Bono’s arrival at South Dakota State five years ago the record attendance for a single dual was 800 fans.
“That  was our record number. We beat that with West Virginia two years ago with 980 (fans) and then of course every match this year surpassed that 980 by far.”
From there the conversation turned to the offseason coaching carousel, but Bono dispelled any notion that he might be leaving Brookings, South Dakota anytime soon.
“Listen, I’m here and I’m dedicated to these guys. I got a special team and I got special kids, and you just don’t walk away from that. We are building something here and I want to see this thing through. We just had our most successful year, I got four out of my five [NCAA] qualifiers back, and a national runner-up.”
Bono also mentioned that administrative support also played a huge role in him staying.
“I’ll tell you what I got an Athletic Director that supports wrestling. That’s very, very rare. I got a guy that’s driving home on a bus, ten hours from the NCAA tournament instead of flying because he wants to be with the team. It’s just something special.
“I’m here in South Dakota, in Brookings. I’m entrenched. My assistant coaches are entrenched. We’ve got families and I’m dedicated to these guys.”
Listen to the full Chris Bono interview on the latest edition of Takdown Radio by fast-forwarding to the 54:10: