“Sneaky” Hofstra tough to pin down for U grapplers

Anthony Maggio

It might be difficult to figure out what Hofstra’s nickname actually is, but the defending national champion Minnesota wrestling team has other things to worry about.

The Gophers must prepare for a match Thursday night against the Dutch – no – the Dutchmen – wait – the Flying Dutchmen – come again – the Pride.

Yes, Hofstra has four nicknames, but its wrestling squad is quickly earning a name for itself.

“(Hofstra coach) Tom Ryan is establishing that program as one of the better programs out on the East Coast,” Minnesota coach J Robinson said. “He always has some guys at the national tournament that are All-Americans.”

The Dutch lost two All-Americans from last season, but are led by ninth-ranked Noel Thompson at 165 pounds, ninth-ranked Tom Noto at 175 and 17th-ranked Jason DeBru at 149 pounds.

Last year the Gophers pounded Hofstra 33-3 in Hempstead, N.Y., then defeated the Dutchmen 22-9 at National Duals.

In Thursday night’s match, Minnesota hopes to shut out Hofstra.

“Guys like J, (assistant coach) Marty (Morgan), and (assistant coach Mark) Schwab expect and demand that you pound the hell out of the people,” junior 165-pounder John Hardy said. “And the fans want to see us shut people out and beat the crap out of people, so hopefully that’s what we can do.”

After defeating No. 2 Oklahoma State 21-12 on Sunday, a match with Hofstra should be a cakewalk.

But the Flying Dutchmen bring a style of wrestling contrary to what the Gophers have seen this season.

“The East Coast wrestles different,” Robinson said. “There’s a lot more mat wrestling. They’re a little more unpredictable.”

The premier match should be at 165 pounds. Hardy, ranked sixth after dropping a hard-fought match with third-ranked Tyrone Lewis of Oklahoma State, will be wrestling Thompson.

Last week Hofstra dropped its second dual of the season, 24-15 to No. 5 Iowa. Ryan expects his team to be solid competition for the Gophers.

“We expect a lot of good matches,” Ryan said. “We’ve just got to win the tough situations, and I’m sure there’s going to be plenty of them.”

Minnesota is being careful not to underestimate the Pride.

The Gopher wrestlers all know Hofstra’s squad brings its own style, and they are prepared to keep it from executing its game plan.

“They like to keep their distance to keep things close,” Hardy said. “If we let them wrestle their style, they’re sneaky, so we’ve got to watch them. If we push them it won’t be problem.”

Unlike deciding what to call them.

Anthony Maggio covers wrestling and welcomes comments [email protected]