Duals to decide 141, 197

Tommy Owen, Quincy Osborn and Matt Koz will be fighting for their postseason lives.

by Matt Anderson

The immediate futures of four Minnesota wrestlers will be decided by one weekend of wrestling, beginning today.

Tommy Owen and Quincy Osborn at 141 pounds and Matt Koz at 197 pounds will all wrestle in the stretch run of their fights for spots in the starting lineup when Minnesota goes on the road against Northwestern tonight and Purdue on Saturday.

Jon Duncombe, who is also competing for the starting role at 197, will not wrestle this weekend because of a knee injury.

“It’s coming down right here where they’re going to make the decision who goes for Big Tens and nationals,” Owen said. “I’ve got to be ready to go mentally.”

Last season, both Osborn and Owen were full-time starters for the Gophers at 133 and 141, respectively. But with redshirt freshman Mack Reiter entering the lineup at 133 this year, Osborn and Owen were forced into competition at 141.

Osborn and Owen also recently returned from injuries, and neither has distinguished himself thus far.

“I think that Tommy might have a little bit of an edge,” coach J Robinson said. “But it just depends a lot on what happens here in the next couple of weeks.”

Heading into the season, 197 was supposed to be a more stable spot in the lineup. Koz, a redshirt freshman, was expected to man the starting spot full time from the beginning.

But after Koz struggled early, Duncombe entered the 197 picture, wrestling up two weight classes from 174, at which he began this season and wrestled all of last year.

Recently, Koz began to show signs of finding the form that made him a prized recruit.

In his last start, Koz pinned Willie Breyer of Michigan on Sunday, while Duncombe dropped an 11-7 decision to Jeff Clemens of Michigan State Friday.

“I can see strides,” Koz said. “It’s just I’m not where I want to be yet; I will be by nationals.”

The picture is also unclear at 149 – partly because of the status of 141.

Danny Williams started at the spot before redshirt freshman C.P. Schlatter returned from injury in late December, and he made the start Sunday when Schlatter moved up to 157.

But Robinson said Williams has yet to establish himself as Minnesota’s 149-pound solution.

“It depends on what happens at some of the other weight classes as to what we do,” Robinson said. “(In) none of those weight classes is anything decided yet.”

But that picture should become much clearer this weekend.

Kish out again

Roger Kish, ranked sixth at 184 pounds, will miss his second weekend in a row with a skin infection.

Robinson said the earliest Kish will return is Feb. 11 at Iowa, and at the latest will be back Feb. 20 versus Illinois in Minnesota’s final dual meet of the season.