With only one event under its belt, the Gophers wrestling team will hit the road this weekend for one of its toughest tests of the season.
No. 4 Minnesota will compete in road duals against No. 5 Cornell on Friday and No. 1 Penn State on Sunday. The Nittany Lions are the defending NCAA Champions.
High-profile matches this early in the season are a little out of the ordinary, according to heavyweight Tony Nelson.
âÄúItâÄôs different for us âÄî we usually have a few preseason kind of warm-ups like the Bison [Open],âÄù Nelson said. âÄúIt will be different, but itâÄôs also very exciting to run into some top competition to see where weâÄôre at this early in the season.âÄù
Cornell went 13-1 in 2010-11, winning the Ivy League. The Big Red finished second in the NCAA championships and won the National Dual Championship. Cornell defeated the Gophers 20-16 at the National Duals.
Minnesota and Penn State fought to an 18-18 tie in their only meeting last season at the Sports Pavilion.
Gophers head coach J Robinson suggested after last yearâÄôs match that Penn StateâÄôs 149-pounder Frank Molinaro feigned an injury to catch his breath during a match. Robinson was publicly reprimanded by the Big Ten for his comments.
Redshirt sophomore Jake Deitchler will have a tough matchup Friday against CornellâÄôs Kyle Dake, who is ranked first in the 157 weight class by InterMat. Deitchler is ranked ninth.
âÄúWe were on the same world team my junior year of high school so IâÄôve been around him,âÄù Deitchler said. âÄúHonestly IâÄôm just going to wrestle hard, have fun, score points and do everything in my control and see what happens.âÄù
Deitchler, who sat out all of last season with concussion problems, made his season debut last weekend at the Bison Open, winning his weight class.
âÄúIt was just really exciting to compete,âÄù Deitchler said. âÄúI hadnâÄôt wrestled in about a year and a half so it was my first tournament. [It was] a little nerve-wracking, but itâÄôs kind of nice to get those out of the way and get back into it.âÄù
Another key match-up in FridayâÄôs dual will be at 197. TopâÄìranked Cam Simaz for Cornell will face off against second-ranked Sonny Yohn for Minnesota.
Cornell has seven wrestlers ranked in the top 20 by InterMat; PSU has nine. The Gophers feature a wrestler ranked in all 10 weight classes.
The Nittany Lions opened its season last weekend with a 39-3 win over Bloomsburg.
PSU has three wrestlers who are ranked first in their weight class: Molinaro (149), David Taylor (165) and Quentin Wright (184).
Facing off against those top-ranked individuals for Minnesota will be Dylan Ness (149), Cody Yohn (165) and Kevin Steinhaus (184).
Minnesota has an advantage on paper at the lightweights against the Nittany Lions and will likely look to get off to a quick start against PSU.