Not one individual match lacked a nationally ranked wrestler in Minnesota’s home opener against Iowa State.
Seven top-five wrestlers graced the floor of Williams Arena, but in the end, it was the No. 2 Cyclones who broke its four-game losing streak to the Gophers, nabbing the 18-13 victory in front of a crowd of 4,357 fans.
when: 7 p.m., Thursday
where: Sports Pavillion
Iowa State finished second to defending National Champion Minnesota in the NCAA championships last year, and they received a stark reminder of that as the Gophers unveiled their 2007 championship banner before the dual.
But it was the Cyclones (6-0, 0-0 Big 12) who left Williams Arena undefeated and likely to move into the No. 1 spot in the country.
“We just didn’t finish or adjust well,” coach J Robinson said. “They stood around a lot and we didn’t force the issue. We have to be aggressive. When you sit back like we did today, you are going to lose a lot of matches.”
The Cyclones pegged the Gophers well as they picked a game plan and stuck to it.
Match after match, Iowa State waited, stood and stalled as they forced Minnesota (3-1, 0-0 Big Ten) to make some moves.
But match after match, the Gophers were unable or never attempted to do so.
Fourth-ranked C.P. Schlatter and No. 3 Mack Reiter were both upset by Cyclones wrestlers as the two seniors dropped 3-2 and 2-1 matches.
“Of the five seniors we had wrestling today, three of them lost,” Robinson said. “We can’t have that if we want to win.”
Robinson said his team, including some seniors, lacked emotion as they battled against a very good Iowa State club.
Sophomore Jayson Ness got the Gophers started on the right foot with a commanding 10-0 win over Mark Kist at 125 pounds but agreed with Robinson as far as the need for seniors to be as productive as possible.
“We’ve counted on our seniors to lead for the past couple of years here,” he said. “From here we just get back into the room and get after it as hard as we can.”
The biggest inconsistency for Minnesota so far this season has been at the heavyweight spot where freshmen Ben Berhow and Joe Nord have been battling for the task to fill the shoes of four-time All-American Cole Conrad.
Berhow had a tough task at hand Sunday as he faced the fifth-ranked heavyweight in the country in David Zabriskie.
The Gophers trailed 15-13 heading into the final matchup, needing a Berhow victory.
Despite a solid performance and emotional showdown, Berhow fell 7-2, securing the Iowa State victory.
Robinson, though, felt Berhow wrestled one of the best matches of the day.
“I thought Ben competed very well today,” he said. “And that’s what we want. We want guys who are going to go out there and wrestle hard and compete.”
With the loss coming early in the season and dual meets not meaning too incredibly much in collegiate wrestling, the Gophers are far from out of the National Championship picture.
But asked if he thought his team was still the team to beat in tournament play, Robinson responded simply, “Not right now.”