Jackrabbits no match for pure power of Minnesota wrestlers at the Pavilion

With a much-anticipated basketball game going in the adjacent Williams arena, the Gophers wrestling team made sure their fans could catch the second half Sunday afternoon.

The No. 5 ranked Gophers (9-3, 0-0 Big Ten) took just one hour and 21 minutes to defeat winless South Dakota State, winning 34-9 while resting many of their top wrestlers.

Head coach J Robinson, knowing his team would have little problem with the Jackrabbits, shuffled most of the lineup and rested seniors Mack Reiter and Manuel Rivera, both ranked in the top-five in their weight classes. The Gophers wrestled four times last week and are preparing to face Michigan State and No. 4 Michigan next weekend.

“The problem with Minnesota is that even when you’re facing some of their backup guys, they’re all so good,” Jackrabbits coach Jason Liles said. “Our kids wrestled hard but we were just undermanned out there.”

Senior Dan Jackson was given a start at the 125-pound division, only the second dual meet match he has wrestled in his five-year career with the Gophers.

Jackson was in control most of the match but lost 7-4. He left to a thunderous applause from the 1,604 on hand.

“We’re all really happy for Dan,” senior C.P. Schlatter, who had the quickest pin of his career at 157 pounds, said. “He comes in every day, and yeah, he gets a little beat up in the wrestling room sometimes but he comes back every day. This is awesome for him.”

Along with Schlatter, sophomore Jeremy Larson also had a first-period pin, while senior Justin Bronson scored a first-period technical fall. Jayson Ness, Luke Mellmer and Tyler Safratowich won their matches by decision.

The sophomore Ness, No. 1 in the nation at 125 pounds, wrestled up in the 133-pound division for the first time in his career. Assistant coach Brandon Eggum said that Ness was offered the weekend off along with Rivera and Reiter, but he chose to wrestle in a higher class to make room for Jackson.

“That just shows you what kind of competitor Jayson is,” Eggum said. “He doesn’t want to take the weekend off, he wants to go out and get a pin.”

Ness didn’t get his pin but did pull out a 14-5 victory and improved his record to 24-0. It was only the eighth time all season Ness has failed to secure a pin – his 16 pins are only four shy of the Gophers single-season record.

Heavyweight forfeit

The Jackrabbits forfeited the heavyweight under unusual circumstances. St. Paul native Mitch Pontrelli, a junior and all-conference football player, wrestled for the first time in his career against Northern State and won. However, Pontrelli decided he would like to pursue a career in the Arena Football League, and promptly left the team, finishing his career with a 1-0 record.