U wrestlers drop road match

Allison Younge
Staff Reporter

The third-ranked Gophers wrestling team has been struggling through a midseason intensity slump during the past few weeks. After a 21-13 loss to Penn State Friday, February’s beginnings provided the same emotionless monotony of late January.
Even during a 34-9 rout of Ohio State on Sunday, Gophers coach J Robinson said the Gophers’ sleepy trend held true.
“I’ve seen it for the last three weeks. I don’t think they’re wrestling with a lot of enthusiasm,” Robinson said. “They’re kind of going through the motions, waiting for the season to get to where it needs to be. That’s the wrong approach to take.”
Friday marked a meet of upsets on both sides of the mat. Fifth-ranked Penn State captured its biggest win since downing second-ranked Iowa on Jan. 3. In front of a crowd of nearly 5,000, Penn State was primed for the Gophers.
“They were really up for it,” Robinson said. “They had everything to win and nothing to lose.”
With the score 9-3 in favor of Penn State going into the fourth match of the night, the Gophers desperately needed two-time All-Americans Jason Davids and Chad Kraft to win their middle weight matches and bridge the team’s scoring gap. But even the highly ranked starters could not foster points for the Gophers.
Third-ranked Davids was defeated by Penn State’s seventh-ranked Jamarr Billman by a score of 9-3 at 142 pounds. Billman, a true freshman, scored a takedown in the first period to gain control and continued to stretch his lead throughout the match.
“He just handled Davids,” Gophers assistant coach Marty Morgan said. “He caught him in a five point move and pretty much dominated the whole match. It was pretty surprising.”
Top-ranked 150-pounder Kraft suffered his first loss this season at the hands of Penn State’s third-ranked Clint Musser. Musser claimed a 3-1 decision to increase Penn State’s lead to 15-3 after five matches.
Gophers 177-pounder Brandon Eggum tore cartilage in his knee during the second period of his match against Penn State’s Rob Neidlinger. Eggum completed the match, but was downed 4-3 in the end.
“I thought he wrestled pretty good, but he just couldn’t get it done,” Morgan said.
While Troy Marr (134 pounds), Josh Holiday (158 pounds), Tim Hartung (190 pounds) and Shelton Benjamin (heavyweight) managed to earn wins for the Gophers, it wasn’t enough to stop Penn State’s drive.
While Sunday marked a lop-sided win over Ohio State, the Gophers lack of enthusiasm remained. Minnesota went up 18-0 before 10th-ranked Holiday was upset in a double-overtime match at 158 pounds. Ohio State’s only other points were awarded after Minnesota forfeited the 177-pound match because of Eggum’s knee injury.
With a 15-2 overall record, Minnesota still holds position among the nation’s top contenders. But Robinson said that’s not the issue.
“It comes down to pride. When you step out on the mat you’ve got to be ready to wrestle,” he said. “I think as a group they know that I’m not really happy with what they did, but it’s not for me, it’s for them. They’re shortchanging themselves.”
Hoping to snap out of the midseason funk, Hartung said he thinks future matches will resuscitate the team’s excitement level.
“I feel like everyone is just struggling in their own way at each weight class,” Hartung said. “Once we get back on track, we’ll be ready for the end.”

Sunday’s match summary

No. 3 Minnesota — 34
Ohio State — 9

118 pounds: Brett Lawrence (Minn.) dec. Matt Fratta (OSU) 5-2
126 pounds: Bart Golyer (Minn.) dec. Robbie Archer (OSU) 4-2
134 pounds: Troy Marr (Minn.) dec. Brian Baughman (OSU) 8-5
142 pounds: Jason Davids (Minn.) pinned Brian Roskovich (OSU) 4:54
150 pounds: Chad Kraft (Minn.) dec. Peter Rogers (OSU) 7-3
158 pounds: Dan DiCesare (OSU) dec. Josh Holiday (Minn.) 4-3
167 pounds: Zac Taylor (Minn.) maj. dec. Sean Salmon (OSU) 20-6
177 pounds: Pat Feldman (OSU) won by forfeit
190 pounds: Tim Hartung (Minn.) pinned Donovan True (OSU) 1:36
Heavyweight: Shelton Benjamin pinned Matt Mondalek (OSU) 4:43