Ness claims national title, Minn. 7th

The senior ended his storied career going undefeated at 133 pounds.

Derek Wetmore

Led by No. 1 Jayson Ness, the GophersâÄô wrestling team placed seventh in the NCAA Tournament over the weekend. Ness (133 pounds) earned his first national championship in his fourth and final trip to the national tournament . He was also named NWCA Outstanding Wrestler of the Championships. Minnesota scored 63 team points as rival Iowa garnered the national title behind the strength of 134.5 team points. The top-10 finish is the 13th for the Gophers in the past 14 seasons. âÄúWe had some really cool things happen during the tournament,âÄù Minnesota head coach J Robinson said. After a disappointing first round, Robinson said the team came back and finished strong. It showed on the score sheets. Minnesota tied for the second most All-Americans in the tournament, with Ness, No. 6 Zach Sanders (125), No. 3 Mike Thorn (141) and No. 8 Sonny Yohn (197 ) all receiving the honor. Ness attained All-American status for the fourth time in his storied Gophers career, as he became just the sixth Minnesota wrestler to achieve the feat. âÄúItâÄôs definitely up there,âÄù Ness said of the importance of the victory in a press release. âÄúI donâÄôt have a top list but itâÄôs up there. I usually donâÄôt show much emotion but it was an exciting one for me.âÄù Ness finished the season undefeated âÄî including five victories in the national tournament âÄî and completed a stretch of 33 straight wins to close his collegiate career. It is just the sixth undefeated season ever for Minnesota. The first place finish added to his fifth, second and third place finishes from the past three years, earning Ness a spot alongside Cole Konrad as the only two Gophers wrestlers to average better than a third place finish over a four-year stretch at the NCAA Championships. Ness said he doesnâÄôt concern himself with extraneous details like that. âÄúI was just thinking about getting a takedown to tie it up. I came after him as hard as I could,âÄù Ness said in the release. âÄúGood things happen when you wrestle for a full seven minutes âĦ All you can do is wrestle your best.âÄù Ness was trailing in the third period when he got kneed in the face; Robinson said he was nearly knocked unconscious. Ness was able to recover and secure the near fall with time expiring in the match to take the lead and win 6-4. Sanders, a sophomore, took fifth place at 125 to earn his second consecutive All-American honor. MinnesotaâÄôs other All-Americans, Yohn and Thorn, placed eight and seventh, respectively. All three wrestlers will be among the eight Gophers starters set to return next season. Minnesota senior Dustin Schlatter , who medically forfeited out of the Big Ten Tournament in order to prepare for the NCAA Championships, once again had to forfeit because of injury. Robinson said Schlatter was dealing with a torn MCL and ACL and wrestled despite doctorsâÄô advice that he should sit out. âÄúI knew that this was my last time, and if I didnâÄôt give myself a chance IâÄôd always regret it,âÄù Schlatter said in a statement. âÄúItâÄôs definitely not the storybook ending I was hoping for.âÄù Amidst the disappointment, Schlatter still finished his Gophers career as one of the most decorated Minnesota wrestlers ever, including a national title in his freshman season and 114 total wins in his career. âÄúItâÄôs hard,âÄù Robinson said, âÄúbut Dustin was here talking to the guys every round supporting them, pushing them, helping them, and that speaks a lot towards DustinâÄôs character.âÄù Schlatter finished 20th on the GophersâÄô all-time career wins list. Ness finished third on the list with 148 wins and first in pins.