Wary of an upset, Minnesota dominates

The No. 4 Gophers took an early lead against Ohio State and never looked back.

by Derek Wetmore

The Gophers wrestling team controlled the action from start to finish Saturday as they throttled underdog Ohio State 31-9.
Though the dual didnâÄôt start at 125 pounds, where the teamâÄôs strength at lower weights often gives it an early lead, 4th-ranked Minnesota (14-3, 5-0 Big Ten) still found a way command the evening. Joe Nord (197) was the victim of a fall, and the Gophers trailed 6-3 after two matches, but then they hit the gas and never bothered to look in the rearview mirror.
Tony Nelson (heavyweight) pinned his opponent in his first action since returning from a staph infection and quickly righted the ship after NordâÄôs loss.
Leading 9-6 heading into the 125 match, Zach Sanders and Daivd Thorn earned back-to-back major decisions before the break.
âÄúI thought they showed great effort. They were relentless going after bonus points and trying to find ways to score in matches,âÄù head assistant coach Joe Russell said.
After intermission, Minnesota picked up where it left off with Mike Thorn (141) earning a 17-0 technical fall to give the Gophers a 23-6 edge.
In the next match, Danny Zilverberg mathematically secured the victory with a 7-1 decision that put Minnesota up 25-6 with only three matches remaining.
Matt Mincey (157) earned an impressive win by decision in just his second dual of the year. Mincey filled in for regular starter Joe Grygelko, who was unable to compete this weekend because of a skin infection.
The lone disappointment of the night for Minnesota came when Cody Yohn (165) dropped a 5-2 decision to No. 7 Colt Sponseller in what the Big Ten Network âÄî which aired the dual âÄî dubbed as the feature match.
In the other match that featured two ranked opponents, Scott Glasser (174) earned a come-from-behind 4-2 decision with a late takedown.
âÄúThe way Scott finished that match is the kind of intensity we like Minnesota guys wrestling with, just a relentless effort and kept going until he scored,âÄù Russell said. âÄúItâÄôs a big boost for him to get a win against a ranked guy.âÄù
Glasser may have been in need of a boost. In the dual with Wisconsin last weekend, in which he dropped an 8-4 decision to an opponent ranked below him, he appeared flat and lacked energy as the match progressed.
On Saturday he quashed any doubt about his health or energy, fighting from behind to earn a takedown late in the third period and close out the dual with an exclamation point for the Gophers.
âÄúThatâÄôs great for our younger guys to watch too. I hope the guys who stayed at home this weekend were watching that one, because thatâÄôs how you win sometimes in college,âÄù Russell said. âÄúItâÄôs not always pretty, but you do what youâÄôve got to do.âÄù
Minnesota did not get complacent Saturday, even with big leads in the dual and individual matches. Without exception, wrestlers chased bonus points relentlessly, and Russell said it was a great sign for his team this late in the year.
âÄúWe wanted them to wrestle with more emotion and really push the pace. Last time we were on the road with Purdue and Illinois we really struggled with guys getting ready for matches with emotion,âÄù Russell said.
âÄúEspecially going into these last three duals where weâÄôll face three great teams, I think it gives them confidence and help them believe in their training to see this result tonight,âÄù he said.
The Gophers will now face Michigan on the road Friday before coming home to face national title contenders Penn State and Iowa to close the regular season.
Sonny Yohn (197), who was expected to return this weekend from a knee injury that has sidelined him since late December, did not compete in the dual but was on hand shooting video for the team.
âÄúWe want to avoid rushing him back, but the temptation is definitely there. Sometimes itâÄôs tough not having your All-American captain out there, but youâÄôve got to think more long-term than just one dual,âÄù Russell said, adding the ultimate goal is to have him healthy for the Big Ten championships. Yohn will likely be back well before the postseason, possibly as early as next weekend.