Pair of pins leads to a pair of dual wins over Buckeyes and Lions

by David McCoy

The past two weekends, Minnesota’s wrestling team relied on several big upsets at key weight classes to overcome Oklahoma State and Iowa.

Those upsets didn’t happen this weekend. But this time, that was good news for the Gophers.

Things went just how they were supposed to in No. 1 Minnesota’s first Big Ten road meets of the season, as the Gophers knocked off Ohio State 30-6 Friday and No. 9 Penn State 25-16 Sunday to continue their undefeated tear.

“I think what really carried us is the way we’ve been wrestling,” assistant coach Joe Russell said. “Even matches we lost, the guys went out there and they were working super hard and fighting real hard and firing us up.”

Minnesota (16-0, 4-0 Big Ten) won Sunday’s dual on the strength of a pair of first period pins by 165-pounder Matt Nagel and heavyweight Cole Konrad.

No. 9 Nagel’s pin of No. 13 David Erwin only 50 seconds into the match gave the Gophers a 9-0 lead. That came after No. 5 C.P. Schlatter’s opening match decision over No. 13 Nathan Galloway at 157 pounds.

“That was a big deal to start out the dual with a lot of momentum,” Nagel said. “And I think that was a big part of our success.”

The Nittany Lions (9-3, 1-3 Big Ten) won the next three matches to take a 10-9 lead, inspired by 16th-ranked James Yonushonis’ win over eighth-ranked Gabe Dretsch ” the only upset of the afternoon.

But Konrad’s 84th career pin, moving him into sixth on Minnesota’s all-time list, ended the Lions’ run and sparked the Gophers to win four out of the last five matches.

And after eighth-ranked DeWitt Driscoll pinned Minnesota’s No. 15 Manny Rivera at 141, the bonus points garnered from Nagel and Konrad’s pins proved valuable as Minnesota’s lead was cut to five with one match to go.

“Anything can happen,” Nagel said. “Manny probably would have beat that guy, but he kind of got caught in a flurry and it was a good thing that Cole and I had those backup points. It’s a huge deal any time you can get big pins like that in a dual. It gives you a lot more security.”

After missing Friday night’s win over Ohio State with the flu, top-ranked Dustin Schlatter majored 10th-ranked James Woodall at 149 pounds to seal the win.

Even without Dustin Schlatter on Friday, Minnesota won eight of 10 matches, including major decisions by Roger Kish, Schlatter and Nagel. Travis Lang won by forfeit at 125.

Tyler Safratowich, subbing for Dustin Schlatter, lost 8-6 to J Jaggers at 149 pounds. Dretsch was upset by unranked Blake Maurer at 174 pounds.

Mitch Kuhlman, Mack Reiter, Rivera and Konrad won by decision Friday.

On top of the fact that it kept Minnesota undefeated, Konrad said the wins on the road served to solidify the successful weekend even more.

“It’s good knowing that we can still perform when we’re on the road,” Konrad said.

“We did a lot of traveling this weekend. We’re tired and we’re beat down a little bit. But to come out and still perform well, it’s good for the team, especially from the mental aspect.”