Wrestling team rallies to beat ISU after slow start

by Allison Younge

AMES, Iowa — Even though the Gophers wrestling team earned a 20-15 victory over Iowa State on Sunday, Minnesota coach J Robinson said the team’s performance was only a success on the scoreboard — and not a win by his standards.
“I don’t think that we were very aggressive at all,” Robinson said. “Some of our guys are more worried about little things. They’re worrying that they’re not feeling perfect, so they can’t wrestle perfect, and they have to get over that. They have to be able to compete however they feel.”
The Gophers came out sluggish in their first match of the new year, falling behind 7-0 after two matches. Minnesota’s usually sturdy 118-pounder, Brett Lawrence, appeared weak in the initial minutes of the first period. Eighth-ranked Cody Sanderson controlled the match, eventually scoring a 13-2 major decision to put the Cyclones ahead 4-0.
“Lawrence had a hard time making weight,” Robinson said. “We knew it was going to affect him, and it did.”
After Pat Connors dropped his match at 126 pounds, the Gophers were in a hole and in danger of falling even further.
But sophomore Bart Golyer, a non-regular, scored the Gophers’ first win in the 134-pound match with a 7-2 decision over Frank Kisley. Golyer’s win might have been the key to the match.
“Bart is always there,” Robinson said. “This is a perfect example of someone stepping in and coming through with a win.”
Two-time All-American Jason Davids followed with a win in the 142-pound match, but not before a jolt from his opponent. Not more than a second had ticked off the clock when Iowa State’s Cole Sanderson scored a takedown on the top-ranked Davids, igniting the home crowd.
“I wasn’t expecting it, but I wasn’t surprised, either,” Davids said. When you come to these schools and you’re ranked No. 1, people are going to be doing that off the whistle. They’re going to give it their best shot. I don’t know what it was. I was a little slow. I didn’t even see him coming.”
After the initial shock, Davids gained control, scoring six takedowns of his own to claim a 16-7 major decision win.
Veterans Zac Taylor (167 pounds), Brandon Eggum (177 pounds) and Tim Hartung (190 pounds) produced a three-match spurt of dominance and gained valuable team points near the end of the match. Hartung’s win gave the Gophers an eight-point lead, clinching the win.
Taylor stepped onto the mat with authority, claiming six takedowns en route to a 15-4 win. His win put the Gophers up 14-12, their first lead of the night.
While several of his teammates didn’t emerge with the same intensity, the senior recognized the importance of the final result.
“I wanted to come back after the break and wrestle a good match,” Taylor said. “As for the team, the win gets us into the cycle of coming into duals and being hungry for the win.”
The flurry of wins by the Gophers turned out to be important when No. 3-ranked heavyweight Shelton Benjamin lost to 12th-ranked Trent Hynek by one point for the second straight year.
With the win over Iowa State, the Gophers’ record improves to 8-0 on the season.
Note: Gophers regular 150-pounder Chad Kraft and regular 134-pounder Troy Marr did not compete against Iowa State. They attended the Great Plains Tournament in Lincoln, Neb.