Ventura makes unexpected stop at

by Sarah Mitchell

He’s become a household name over the past few weeks, being spotted on Jay Leno and Meet the Press. The Minnesota Gov.-elect’s most recent sighting, however, was at the end of the Gophers’ wrestling bench.
Decked out in a maroon and gold jersey, Gov.-elect Jesse Ventura calmly sat matside at Williams Arena on Sunday as top-ranked Oklahoma State wrestled to a 21-17 victory over No. 2 Minnesota.
“We were down in the locker room and (Gophers coach J Robinson) said that Jesse would be coming down,” freshman Chad Erikson said. “We all started laughing. We thought he was joking.”
But the ruckus ended abruptly when Ventura entered, offering the wrestlers handshakes and wishing them good luck. Gophers assistant coach Joe Russell said the gesture was the result of a letter written by Robinson.
The Gophers coach wrote a letter to Ventura congratulating him on his election. Robinson added that Ventura shocked the nation by winning and should now shock the school by showing up for the dual meet.
“It means a lot to the team and the coaches that he would take the time off,” Russell said. “I’m sure he has thousands of requests.”
Russell might have been the most excited Gopher. The assistant coach is an old-timer at the wrestling office. Russell wrestled for Minnesota for four years and is in his fifth season as a staff member.
“In all my years with the team we’ve never had anything like this happen,” Russell said. “I’ve never met the governor before, let alone have him sit on the bench.”

Erikson emerging
Following the second match-up of the evening, an upset by the Gophers looked conceivable. Rated no. 14 at 141 pounds, Minnesota’s Chad Erikson gave the Gophers a boost when he downed 8th-ranked Jamill Kelly 15-9.
Based on Erikson’s performance as a redshirt freshman last season, the swift climb to the top might have been expected. Wrestling unattached for Minnesota last season, the four-time Minnesota state high school champion recorded an 11-3 record while claiming the 134-pound title in the 20-and-under division of the Omaha Open.
“The fire he had, I think he’s been dreaming about that for a while,” Russell said.
Erikson and Kelly wrestled head-to-head for most of the match. But a better-conditioned Erikson was able to pull ahead in the final period.
“The way the scoreboard was set above me, I couldn’t see it,” Erikson said. “I just wrestled. I didn’t really know what the score was.”
Unconditioned Cowboys
Less than two weeks ago Damion Hahn — the No. 1 high school recruit in the nation — became the Gophers newest addition, citing Minnesota’s focus on conditioning as a major factor. Despite a loss to the Cowboys on Sunday, Minnesota appeared to be the less-winded team.
“That was one of our big game plans coach focused on all week,” Erikson said.
Even Oklahoma State coach John Smith was disappointed about his team’s sluggish finishes.
“We’re not in third period condition,” Smith said. “I credit J and the Minnesota team for being well-prepared and well-conditioned.”
Cowboy Dave Anderton seemed to be sucking the most air. But in the end, the 16th-ranked heavyweight pinned Minnesota’s Brent Boeshans.
“(Boeshans) is a really small heavyweight,” Erikson said. “(Anderton) had to weigh at least 40 more pounds.”