Wrestlers continue winning ways

Sarah Mitchell

Scattered across the country on Saturday, Minnesota’s wrestling team met its objectives — but not in the dominating fashion it expected.
Competing in their first dual meet of the season, the second-ranked Gophers claimed seven of ten matches, defeating North Dakota State 27-12 in Fargo. Although their lineup was not reflective of the true varsity team, the Gophers were discontent with their performance against the Division II Bison.
“Going up there we definitely thought we were favored to win all ten matches,” said All-American Chad Kraft, who decisioned Wayne Mooney 10-2.
Assistant coach Marty Morgan was just as disappointed, especially by the performance of freshmen Leroy Vega and Matt Kraft. Vega was decisioned 12-6 by Ryan Lewis at 125 pounds while Kraft was decisioned 8-3 by Steve Saxlund.
“The older guys all looked good, but the younger guys all looked poor,” Morgan said. “Their match preparation was not up to par.”
Only one Gopher claimed his title by a fall; junior Brent Boeshans pinned Bison Dave Clymer in 3:46.
While Morgan held the reins in Fargo, Gophers coach J Robinson escorted five wrestlers to the St. Louis Open in St. Louis. Robinson’s primary interest was to scout his next competitor, Oklahoma State, but the top ranked Cowboys were not at full strength. Only a few of Oklahoma’s starters were listed in the tournament’s brackets.
“For the five guys that went down there it was a good way to gauge where we stand, but not how we match up to Oklahoma State,” said senior Pat Connors, who finished fourth at 133.
Despite a lack of Cowboy representation, Minnesota claimed only one championship title. All-American Tim Hartung beat Northwestern’s Sam Nieder to take the title at 197 and earn the tournament’s most falls and most outstanding wrestler awards. But Robinson remained unsatisfied.
“Certain guys need to become a little more aggressive,” Robinson said. “We need to get after them.”
Minnesota’s freshmen stormed into the Kaufman-Brand Open in Omaha, Neb., with a fierceness that made Gophers assistant Mark Schwab proud. In the two-division tournament, Minnesota’s Jared Lawrence (141), Luke Becker (149) and Garrett Lowney (HWT) earned champion titles in the 20-and-under division.
“Everyone won matches. A lot of guys were one match away from wrestling for the title,” said Lowney, who decisioned South Dakota State’s John Madsen 2-1 in double overtime.
In what promises to be a preview of the battle for the national title, the Gophers will host Oklahoma State on Sunday at Williams Arena.
“Oklahoma State has traditionally been good for 50 years,” Schwab said. “They obviously have some studs and are clearly favored. We’re going to have to win the matches we are expected to win, we’re going to have win the toss-ups and we are going to have to win some of the matches we aren’t expected to win.”