Injuries send Gophers to pair of losses

Without a full lineup, Minnesota dropped its first two Big Ten duals this weekend.

Matt Anderson

After finishing third at the NWCA National Duals on Jan. 22-33 in Cleveland, Minnesota’s wrestling team appeared to have hit its stride heading into the Big Ten season.

Because of a trio of injuries this weekend, the Gophers will have to wait a little longer before they can reach top speed.

No. 5 Minnesota (6-6, 0-2 Big Ten) dropped both of its dual meets during the weekend at the Sports Pavilion, falling 28-14 to No. 15 Michigan State (6-2-1, 3-0-1) in its Big Ten opener Friday and 24-19 to No. 7 Michigan (11-3, 3-0) on Sunday.

Minnesota was without seventh-ranked 184-pounder Roger Kish because of a skin infection after heading into the weekend without alternating 174-pound starters Josh McLay, who is out for the season, and Gabriel Dretsch.

“It’s really frustrating, because you’re getting beat by teams that, if you had everybody in, you wouldn’t get beat by,” Gophers coach J Robinson said.

Minnesota was pinned at 184 and gave up bonus points at 174 in each dual.

Against Michigan, Nik Lentz, who usually wrestles at 157, suffered a major decision at 174 at the hands of 15th-ranked Nick Roy.

Joshua Weitzel’s pin of Jeremy Larson at 184 clinched the meet for the Wolverines, giving them an insurmountable 24-10 lead with two bouts remaining. The win avenged their 21-16 loss to the Gophers in the quarterfinals of the National Duals.

“It’s nice to rebound,” Michigan coach Joe McFarland said. “We’ve always had a hard time wrestling up here, but it was nice to leave with a win.”

In addition to injury, Minnesota had to contend with highly touted redshirt freshman C.P. Schlatter moving up to 157 pounds Sunday after wrestling at 149 pounds for the first part of the season.

“I couldn’t wrestle at 149,” Schlatter said. “Third period, I just couldn’t do it. I was getting beat by kids that weren’t even close to as good as I was.”

Friday, in his last bout at 149, Schlatter dropped a key match to No. 20 Darren McKnight of Michigan State.

Schlatter led 8-5 going into the third period but was taken down with seven seconds remaining to drop the match 10-9.

That win gave the Spartans a 10-4 lead after four bouts, and with the Gophers lineup weakened by injury, Schlatter’s loss effectively killed the Gophers’ chances for a win.

Larson also got pinned Friday, this time at 174, while redshirt freshman Jason Waidzulas was pinned at 184.

On Sunday, the result of the meet was again decided by the time the heavyweight bout was contested.

But for second-ranked Cole Konrad, individual victory was still crucial.

Konrad won for the second time in eight days against third-ranked Greg Wagner of Michigan, taking a 7-2 decision Sunday. Dating back to last season, Konrad has three straight wins against Wagner.

“Last year, I had lost to him twice going into the Big Tens; this year, I’ve beaten him twice,” Konrad said. “I’ll just have more confidence knowing that I can beat him.”

Even with Konrad’s win and a pin from Matt Koz, who had been struggling at 197 pounds, injuries meant that at the end of Sunday, Minnesota stood 0-2 in the Big Ten.

“There’s nothing you can do about it, so all you do is you kind of focus on it and get everybody healthy and get ready for the Big Tens,” Robinson said. “In the end, nobody will remember who beat everybody, they’ll remember how you did at the Big Tens.”