Wrestling team boasts top recruiting class

Also, construction begins on Williams Arena floor.

After a disappointing finish this season, the Gophers wrestling squad is looking forward to a bright future. Last week, the Gophers 2009 recruiting class was ranked No. 1 by Wrestling Insider News Magazine . Their class was ranked fifth in November, but after top-ranked prospect Tony Nelson from Cambridge, Minn. committed to the Gophers, they reached the top spot. All eight recruits have been respective state champions at least once. Head Assistant Coach Joe Russell said he knew this was a special class and thinks it great to see some experts recognizing the talent. Many of the new recruits may redshirt their freshman year, but Russell said they will determine their best squad in the fall. âÄúA lot of times [first-years] are young and hungry, which is good,âÄù he said. âÄúItâÄôs not always a bad idea to try and get them as much experience and you can when theyâÄôre young.âÄù Russell said one reason the team was able to recruit talent wrestlers was the ties many recruits had to the squad. David Thorn (St. Michael, Minn), Danny Zilverberg (Wayzata, Minn.) and Bart Reiter (Gilberville, Iowa) all have brothers that are currently or have wrestled for the Gophers. Only two of the eight incoming wrestlers come from outside Minnesota. Russell said the coaches often try to keep the best Minnesota wrestlers in the state. It is often easier because it is the only Div. I program in the state, and many kids grow up wanting to wrestle for the Gophers. âÄúIt makes it a lot easier when you recruit them and they already are dreaming about it,âÄù Russell said.

New floor to be safer for players

One of the oldest college basketball arenas is getting an upgrade. Williams Arena, built in 1928 is changing arguably the most important part of a basketball court: the court. On May 11, construction began on the 81-year-old floor, a project estimated to cost $680,000. The project is coming out of the athletics departmentâÄôs budget for fiscal year 2010, so they will not begin making payments until after July 1. The possibility of a new floor has been discussed for the past few years and facilities director Michael Dale said it was cheaper to fix the problem now because of the poor economy. Dale said the new floor will create a safer playing environment for players. The old floor had dead spots where the ball would bounce less, and there were cases when other players could feel the effects of another player jumping. The basketball teams have not pressured the athletics department to fix the floor, but Dale felt it was a necessary fix. âÄúThey havenâÄôt been asking for it, but we thought it was an issue that at some point needed to be fixed,âÄù Dale said. In addition to the safety the new court will be more advance technologically. New technologies will be in place to make it easier for broadcasters to air the game. Other additions include a new hoop system and new chairs for the teams. Fans may notice a few other changes as well when they turn out to watch Gopher basketball. Dale said the new floor will be much brighter than the current floor and will don different logos as well. Goldy will be removed from center court to be replaced by a large Minnesota âÄúM.âÄù The border will remain maroon and gold, but the current text will be inverted on the new court. The floor will say âÄúGolden GophersâÄù under the hoops and âÄúMinnesotaâÄù on the sidelines. One of the Big Ten logos will be replaced with a Williams Arena stamp as well. Pieces of the old floor will be available for purchase after construction. Sales will help the department bring in revenue and give fans an opportunity to own a piece of sports memorabilia with quite a bit of history, Dale said. âÄúWe feel that people want to buy a part of history today that they have witnessed or been involved on,âÄù he said. âÄúThis gives them a chance to do so.âÄù The floor is scheduled to be completed by the first week of school.