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Nagel’s upset at 165 leads way for rebound victory over Northern Iowa in Rochester

W When Matt Nagel stepped to the mat for his 165-pound bout Sunday, No. 8 Minnesota could see its dual meet against No. 17 Northern Iowa slipping away.

The Panthers had just run off 13 consecutive points to take a 17-16 lead, and they

had a rankings advantage in two of the three remaining matches.

Nagel, ranked 14th in the nation, faced the steep task of defeating No. 10 Nick Baima, whom he lost to Nov. 20 at the Kaufman Brand Open.

But Nagel rose to the challenge, upsetting Baima 6-3 to give the Gophers a 19-17 lead. And when 13th-ranked Roger Kish pinned Alex Dolly in the meet’s final match at 184 pounds, Minnesota escaped Taylor Arena at the Mayo Civic Center with a 25-20 victory.

“Any time that you can get down, and your team can come back, and they can win, that’s a good sign,” Gophers coach J Robinson said. “We’re making progress – we’re not where we want to be, obviously – but we’re getting a little break here.”

Minnesota started the day strong. After Matt Koz lost a major decision to No. 6 Sean Stender at 197 pounds to open the meet, No. 2 Cole Konrad, No. 5 Bobbe Lowe and No. 6 Mack Reiter all scored bonus points in the next three matches to give the Gophers a seemingly comfortable 16-4 lead.

But Quincy Osborn went down with an apparent left knee injury late in the second period of his 141-pound match, and his injury-default loss gave Northern Iowa six key points and sliced the deficit in half.

Northern Iowa won the next two matches to take a 17-16 lead with three matches left.

That’s when Nagel seized the opportunity with his big win.

“It was real important for me, a little more as the dual got closer,” Nagel said. “I just felt I wrestled a real focused match and did what I had to do.”

After Gabriel Dretsch was able to keep his match at 174 versus No. 3 Eric Hauan out of bonus-point territory, all Kish needed to do to win the dual for the Gophers was beat Dolly at 184 pounds.

The heralded redshirt freshman did more than just win a decision, pinning Dolly 1:39 into the first period to seal the 25-20 Minnesota win.

“I just felt like the outcome would be there no matter what if I just wrestled hard for seven minutes,” Kish said. “I just wrestled smart and didn’t give up (anything) dumb at the beginning.”

With a 17-day layoff before they next hit the mats at the Southern Scuffle tournament in Greensboro, N.C., Dec. 29 ending the first part on their schedule well was crucial for the Gophers.

“Going into this meet and winning against a tough guy and now having this big break, it gives you a huge mental edge,” Nagel said. “It’s going to be great for my break and my training.”

Robinson said he believes the come-from-behind win will be extremely beneficial for his young team later on in the season.

“It’s important for our guys to go forward and know that they’re making progress,” Robinson said. “We just need to keep going forward.”

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