Bierschenk, Ness come through in the clutch for Minnesota

Anyone whoâÄôs stood alone in his or her backyard, bat and ball in hand, and created this situation âÄî bottom of the ninth, tie game, two outs, bases loaded, full count âÄî understands why Gordon Bierschenk relished the position he found himself in Friday night. With the 10th-ranked Minnesota wrestling team trailing No. 16 Penn State 11-15 and only three matches remaining, Bierschenk knew he needed a win and bonus points. âÄúItâÄôs the situation you dream about as a young wrestler,âÄù he said. âÄúTo go out and come up big for your team when it needs you the most.âÄù He did just that. Bierschenk pinned the Nittany LionsâÄô J.R. Brown at 6:01 in the 197-pound bout, the Gophers jumped ahead 17-15 and never relinquished the lead, squeaking out a 20-18 win in State College, Penn. Two days later, Jayson Ness was in a dream situation of his own. His match against Ohio StateâÄôs top-ranked Reece Humphrey at 133 was the last of the day; his Gophers were trailing Ohio State by only a point; if he wins, Minnesota wins. Thanks to consecutive victories from Bierschenk, sophomore Ben Berhow and redshirt freshman Zach Sanders , the Gophers had climbed back from a 6-16 deficit and put the meet entirely in NessâÄô hands. He wasnâÄôt about to disappoint. His 5-0 decision capped the comeback and Minnesota upset the No. 5 Buckeyes 18-16. NessâÄô win oagainst Humphrey was his second triumph over the nationâÄôs No. 1 wrestler in as many weeks , but it came on the heels of a 4-3 loss to Penn StateâÄôs No. 11 Jake Strayer . The loss Friday may have helped him for Sunday, however. âÄúThat match definitely helped me refocus and get myself mentally prepared,âÄù Ness said. âÄúI went out there on Friday night and just wasnâÄôt mentally ready, and it backfired on me. I talked to the coaches a little bit on Friday and Saturday, they told me what I needed to do and I fixed it for [Sunday].âÄù Not only did Ness hand Humphrey his first loss of the season, he avenged a 5-4 defeat to Humphrey at the National Duals. Though only three weeks removed from that match, assistant coach Luke Becker said Ness has made significant strides in that time. âÄúWhen he goes out there and gets after guys like he did today âĦ thereâÄôs no one that can wrestle with him,âÄù Becker said. No one could wrestle with Mike Thorn at 141 this weekend either. The redshirt sophomore, currently ranked No. 8, started the weekend with a 12-5 decision against Penn StateâÄôs Frank Molinaro , then followed it Sunday with his second win of the season against 12th-ranked defending national champion J Jaggers, this time a 6-4 decision . With such a young team, MinnesotaâÄôs early success in the Big Ten may seem a bit surprising. But if observers are surprised, the Gophers certainly arenâÄôt. âÄúWe believe we can beat anybody,âÄù Bierschenk said Sunday, minutes after NessâÄô clinching victory against the Buckeyes. âÄúThatâÄôs our demeanor, thatâÄôs the way we think. Today, nobody expected us to beat Ohio State except for us, but we went out those last four matches and got the job done.âÄù Added Becker: âÄúGuys are starting to realize how good they can be.âÄù