Conrad leads Minnesota at National Duals

The Gophers won the National Duals for the fourth time in seven years.

by Tyler Rushmeyer

The 2007 National Duals ended the same as the 2006: with senior Cole Konrad on top.

The heavyweight’s pin at 2:13 in the final match Sunday gave the Minnesota wrestling team a 20-16 victory over No. 1 Missouri and the championship crown.

With the win, the Gophers figure to be right back where they were to begin the year; ranked No. 1.

This is the place where Konrad believes the Gophers should be.

“I’ve been saying all year that we are the top team,” he said. “We’re solid all the way through.”

The matchup pitting the top two programs in the country began in a back-and-forth manner with redshirt freshman Jayson Ness (125), ranked No. 6, picking up a major decision to finish 4-0 for the tournament.

Missouri responded with a major decision of its own when No. 15 Tyler McCormick defeated freshman Mike Thorn (133) 12-0.

Junior Manuel Rivera, now 26-0 on the season, gave Minnesota the lead again with a major decision of his own, which was followed by a tight 1-0 decision for top-ranked sophomore Dustin Schlatter, decided only by riding time.

His brother, C.P. Schlatter, who is recovering from a knee injury, made his return at the duals, bursting back into the scene with a strong case to re-enter the national rankings. His pivotal match, in which he entered the final period down 3-0 ended with three takedowns and a 6-5 victory.

C.P. Schlatter said the match was huge for the momentum of the team.

“I started off pretty slow and I knew I just needed to make something happen,” he said. “It turned out to be a big swing match Ö every point mattered in this one.”

Up 14-4, the match appeared to be in Minnesota’s hands, but the Tigers responded with three straight decisions that included Gophers junior Roger Kish (184) losing for the first time this season.

Kish, ranked No. 2, was matched up against Ben Askren, ranked No. 1 at 174. The strategy of wrestling Askren at 184 proved to be an effective one as Askren defeated Kish 5-4.

C.P. Schlatter said despite the weight switching, the Gophers proved to Missouri who the best team in the country is.

“Just like last year, we came in No. 2 and, leaving No. 1,” he said. “Didn’t matter what they did, we still came out on top.”

With Missouri closing the gap fast at 14-13, the title seemed to be within its grasp as No. 1 Max Askren of the Tigers took to the mat to do battle with freshman Brent Eidenschink (197), who just won the starting job this past week.

Eidenschink battled the top-ranked Askren to an 11-5 loss, but his efforts kept the overall match score close for the big closer Konrad.

The freshman said he knew what he had to do heading out to the mat.

“(I) just wanted to keep it close so Cole could do his thing,” he said. “(I) didn’t come out on top, but I felt like I did what I needed to do.”

Missouri freshman heavyweight Tyler Perry had a daunting task ahead of him next: defeat the top-ranked heavyweight in the country, one who had won 57 straight matches.

With Missouri leading 16-14, Perry battled through the first period to keep it close, but 13 seconds into the second period, Konrad did what he’s already done six times this season; pin his opponent.

The hard-fought win presumably gives Minnesota the top-ranking in the country and re-establishes the perennial powerhouse as the team to beat.

Coach J Robinson said the championship crown put Minnesota in a good position, but said the season is still young.

“The thing for us is to keep it all in perspective. We finished No. 1 here last year and didn’t get where we wanted to be at the end of the season,” he said. “This is great, let’s enjoy it for a week here, but then lets get back and work on the things we need to do to keep it going.”

Gophers top Cornell

The Gophers began the tournament Saturday with a convincing 32-11 victory over No. 13 Cornell.

Ness (125) got Minnesota off to a fast start with a pin 1:24 into his match to help propel the Gophers’ route.

Central Michigan downed

Minnesota continued to roll in dominating fashion in the quarterfinals with its 31-7 triumph over No. 9 Central Michigan, who had upset No. 7 Oklahoma a round earlier.

Minnesota used a pin from Ness and a pin at 3:46 from freshman Thorn (133) to build an early 9-0 advantage that it would never relinquish.

Gophers top Cyclones

Minnesota opened the second day of the tournament with a 24-11 victory over No. 6 Iowa State, the second time it has beaten the Cyclones this season.

The match was highlighted by junior C.P. Schlatter’s (157) close 5-4 decision over two-time All-American Trent Paulson, ranked No. 2 in the country.