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100 and counting: Skatzka leads the way for Gophers wrestling

The redshirt senior is 23-4 this season.
Redshirt Senior Devin Skatzka competes at Maturi Pavilion on Friday, Nov. 1. 
Image by Kamaan Richards

Redshirt Senior Devin Skatzka competes at Maturi Pavilion on Friday, Nov. 1. 

On a team full of young talent, the veteran leadership of redshirt senior Devin Skatzka is helping lead the way for Gopher wrestling.

The 2018-2019 All-American selection has continued to impress this season. Skatzka is off to a 23-4 start that includes seven pins, five technical falls and three major decisions. In his 174-pound weight class, he’s ranked No. 7 in the nation, according to InterMat Wrestling. On Friday, he hit another milestone, notching his 100th career win in Minnesota’s 25-10 dual victory over Michigan State. For Skatzka, a Michigan native, the moment was extra special. He clinched win No. 100 in his home state in front of family and friends. 

“It’s pretty cool, not too many people get to accomplish that feat,” he said. “And, to have [my family] there meant a lot. They made me a little sign. It was just nice getting to see them, first of all. Second of all, having them there for that was pretty special.”

It wasn’t until a few days before the team’s trip to Michigan that Skatzka found out he was sitting at 99 wins and would have the opportunity to hit No. 100 back home. 

“I wasn’t really keeping a close eye on it or anything like that,” he said. “I was just pretty grateful my family got to see it. They don’t get to make it to too many things being from Michigan. Most of our stuff is either in Minnesota or somewhere else around the country. Just having them there to see something like that is pretty special to me.” 

To Skatzka, 100 wins demonstrates his consistency, something he strives for. After recording 26 victories in his redshirt freshman season, he added 22 more his sophomore year at Indiana University. In his first year at Minnesota last season, he notched a career-high 30 and placed eighth in the NCAA Championships. That consistency on the mat, and his preparation off it, are ways head coach Brandon Eggum says Skatzka leads by example. 

“On the mat, the way he wrestles and competes, he fights for every point. He’s obviously been very successful. Some of the things they’re learning from him, he’s got a great work ethic. So, the way that he trains, the way that he works and all the little things he’s doing that are right,” Eggum said. “He leads in a very positive way, so it’s great for young guys to see that.” 

Skatzka continued to lead in a positive way when the team traveled to Ann Arbor, where he quickly picked up win No. 101. He snagged bonus points too, notching the technical fall over Michigan’s Max Maylor. His dominant performance momentarily put the Gophers up 12-6, but Michigan came back to hand Minnesota its first Big Ten loss of the season, 22-15.

As Minnesota looks to bounce back from Sunday’s loss when they take on Ohio State Jan. 26, they also hope to return two of their top contenders in Gable Steveson and Brayton Lee, who missed the previous two duals due to injury and illness. The Gophers will continue to build off that loss with their eyes set on the 2020 NCAA Championships in Minneapolis. 

“I think we’re all improving in every way. We’ve been fixing a lot of the little things,” Skatzka said. “It still leaves kind of a sour taste in our mouth, but nothing to hang our heads about too much.”

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