Gophers continue to look forward after dropping a pair

It would be quite difficult to find a team that puts a tough weekend in its rearview mirror as quickly as the Minnesota wrestling team. Minutes after dropping their second dual of the weekend 25-9 to Iowa, the Gophers werenâÄôt licking their wounds and sulking. They were talking about the Big Ten championships or the national tournament âÄî really anywhere they might have another crack at the HawkeyesâÄô wrestlers. As for MinnesotaâÄôs 19-15 Friday night loss to Wisconsin; itâÄôs practically ancient history. Even senior Tyler Safratowich, whose 7-5 decision over the BadgersâÄô Ben Jordan put him in the company of 34 other Gophers greats with 100 career victories, wasnâÄôt dwelling on the weekend. Instead, he was focused on what he needed to work on in the final month of the season to become an All-American and lead his team to a national championship. âÄúThatâÄôs what matters to the team and thatâÄôs what matters to me,âÄù Safratowich said. âÄú100 wins is great but being an All-American is what itâÄôs all about.âÄù Whatever the focus, itâÄôs clear that MinnesotaâÄôs wrestlers and coaches alike arenâÄôt going to be bothered after a winless weekend. âÄúI think the important thing is they learn from these [losses] and make the necessary changes to turn it around at the Big Ten tournament,âÄù head assistant coach Joe Russell said. âÄúIt could go in a negative way but I donâÄôt see that with this team. These guys are young and hungry and I think theyâÄôre going to make the progress they need to make to get ready for the Big Ten tournament.âÄù Chances are good that the Gophers will encounter 18th-ranked Wisconsin or top-ranked Iowa at the conference championships, and Safratowich said itâÄôs a change in mentality more than anything else that Minnesota needs. âÄúThe coaches always talk to us about belief,âÄù he said. âÄúYou have to believe in your training, you have to believe when you step on the mat that youâÄôre going to win the match. WeâÄôre physically prepared âĦ we just need guys to believe a little bit. ItâÄôs just a mental thing.âÄù Nine of the weekendâÄôs 20 matches were decided by two points or less, but the Gophers found themselves on the short end of six of them. Ultimately, those close matches can make all the difference. Sophomore Mike Thorn, who faced off against the nationâÄôs top two wrestlers at 141, dropped a pair of close decisions that he said heâÄôll be thinking about if he gets an opportunity at payback in the postseason. âÄúIâÄôm confident I can beat them,âÄù Thorn said Sunday, just after he dropped a 2-1 decision to IowaâÄôs second-ranked Alex Tsirtsis that came down to TsirtsisâÄô 1:16 advantage in riding time. On Friday, Thorn battled WisconsinâÄôs top-ranked Zach Tanelli, and despite a furious final period effort, Thorn could not overcome the 3-1 deficit he faced after two periods and lost 7-5. Though obviously frustrating, Russell believes the close losses will ultimately benefit Thorn. âÄúMikeâÄôs real frustrated, heâÄôs lost a lot of close matches to the top-ranked guys this year,âÄù Russell said. âÄúHeâÄôs real eager to turn that around and find a way to win those close matches. ItâÄôs a good frustration, heâÄôs working hard to try and figure out how to change from a one-point loss to a one-point win.âÄù