Fifth-place finish in St. Louis marks progress, starting point

Cole Konrad, Bobbe Lowe, Matt Nagel and Mack Reiter earned All-America status.

Matt Anderson

ST. LOUIS – A fifth-place finish might not have given Minnesota wrestling senior Bobbe Lowe total happiness.

But it did yield something close.

Minnesota finished the NCAA Championships on Saturday at Savvis Center with 72.5 points – 80.5 behind Oklahoma State, which three-peated as national champion.

“I’m pretty happy – mediocre happy – with the team,” said Lowe, who became an All-American for the first time since 2003. “The thing the people of Minnesota have got to understand is we’ve got six guys on our team that are freshman and sophomores. Those guys are going to be back, and this tournament is going to be a cakewalk for them the next two or three years.”

Although this year wasn’t a cakewalk for Minnesota, finishing in the top five and taking home individual honors were enough to make it relatively successful nonetheless.

After coming to the NCAAs as the only team with all 10 wrestlers qualified, the Gophers left St. Louis with four All-Americans. Lowe placed seventh at 125 pounds, redshirt freshman Mack Reiter finished fourth at 133, junior Matt Nagel took sixth at 165 and sophomore Cole Konrad was second at heavyweight.

Konrad fell 3-1 in the championship bout when he was taken down by Oklahoma State’s Steve Mocco in sudden-victory overtime – his third overtime loss this year to the two-time national champion.

“He just caught me out of position,” Konrad said. “That’s the way it goes. You can’t get out of position.”

Redshirt freshmen C.P. Schlatter and Roger Kish were one win short of All-America status at 157 and 184, respectively.

“I think that they’re going to be great for Minnesota, and I think they’re going to do great things in the future,” coach J Robinson said. “Sometimes, we learn more from our losses than we do when the stakes hit. And I think it’ll bother them enough that they’ll do some things different.”

Kish and Schlatter’s classmate Reiter did win All-America status, but coming into the tournament as Big Ten champion, the expectation level was set higher than fourth place.

The third seed at 133 pounds, Reiter easily advanced to the semifinals before succumbing to second-seeded Shawn Bunch of Edinboro 6-4 on Friday.

Trailing late in the third period, Reiter caught Bunch in a cradle – his go-to move – and appeared ready to put back points on the board that would have defeated Bunch. But before Reiter could record a score, the action was whistled dead because of a potentially dangerous situation.

It was a call Robinson said decided the match.

“I think he would have won the match (had the cradle not been stopped),” he said. “There’s so much inconsistency here with the way they call stuff. One guy calls fleeing the mat, another guy doesn’t; another guy calls potentially dangerous. Somehow, they have to standardize it.”

Though it was only moderately successful this tournament, Lowe said the experience this year’s highly touted redshirt freshman class gained during the weekend has set the team up for future NCAAs.

“It’s a great starting point for these guys,” Lowe said. “It makes them hungry. They got a little piece of the cake, and now they want the whole thing.”