Physical matchup with Iowa State awaits Gophers on Sunday

Mark Remme

Two Midwest powers with a long history of head-to-head battles will meet again this weekend when the Minnesota wrestling team entertains Iowa State.

The top-ranked Gophers are no stranger to the No. 2 Cyclones, who will meet Sunday at Williams Arena. The dual meet will begin at 2 p.m.

As recent as three years ago, Iowa State dominated Minnesota nearly every time they matched up. The Cyclones won all four meetings between 1999 and 2005.

But the Gophers quickly rebounded in the past two seasons by snagging four meet victories in that span, including two last year. Minnesota won 19-13 in Ames on Dec. 8 and 24-11 in Cedar Falls on Jan. 14.

The Cyclones (5-0) finished second overall in the NCAA Championships with a score of 88.5 to Minnesota’s 98, as the Gophers were headed toward their third national title of the decade.

From the Gophers’ perspective, this meet might be coming at the right time.

This weekend will mark the first dual meet of the season where Minnesota will have just one opponent, as opposed to three last weekend in Rochester. Senior Manuel Rivera said that is crucial when it comes to such a sound opponent.

“We’ll be able to switch it up a little,” Rivera said about the way the team will game plan for the Cyclones. “We’ll be able to focus on individual scouting.”

That will probably be beneficial for the Gophers, because even though they’ve taken the last four dual meets, they still trail in the all-time series versus their rivals from Ames 14-41-2.

Not a typically strong record to hold against any squad.

But this year, like last, Minnesota’s roster is filled with a talented slew of All-Americans and NCAA qualifiers.

That being said, Sunday’s showdown might garner several matchups that could be seen again next March at the NCAA Championships.

Winning streak

The unbeaten Gophers (3-0) are currently riding its second longest winning streak in school history.

Minnesota won 23 straight meets dating back to Nov. 25, 2006. That ties for second place with their streak between Jan. 22, 1999, and Jan. 23, 2000.

The longest winning streak in school history is 33 matches, which was set between Jan. 11, 2001 and Nov. 15, 2002, which was part of the back-to-back national championships in the 2001 and ’02 seasons.

New technique

After Minnesota matches up with Midwest powers Iowa State and Nebraska in the next week, the Gophers will begin a West Coast swing that involves the likes of Cal. Poly and Cal. State Fullerton.

What that means, according to senior Mack Reiter, is that the team will face different challenges than a normal meet against conference or regional opponents.

It all starts with weigh-ins, he said, because the team will get weighed Thursday night for two Saturday meets in California. That means the team will need to watch its food intake to keep their weight levels down to meet class qualifications.

Then, it comes down to dealing with two wrestling programs that match up with a little more speed and a little less emphasis on overpowering strength than their Midwestern counterparts, Reiter said. “They have a different style out there,” he said. “It’ll be good for us to see guys that we probably won’t see again until nationals.”