Immediately following the Minnesota wrestling team’s 43-3 rout of Nebraska Friday at the Sports Pavilion, the Gophers’ focus shifted to their next challenge — the National Dual Championship meet.
Six of the top seven teams in the nation are expected to compete in the two-day event, hosted by the University of Iowa. Along with Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, Arizona State, Iowa State and Penn State will battle for the National Dual team title.
No. 1-ranked Oklahoma State will not attend the National Duals according to an Oklahoma State media relations representative. The Cowboys are already scheduled to wrestle Iowa in a dual meet on Feb. 14, and they do not want to make two trips to Iowa City this season.
This leaves the second-ranked Gophers as the tournament favorite, and the team is taking the position seriously.
“We’re going down there with one thing on our minds, and that’s to win it,” Gophers 177-pounder Brandon Eggum said.
But being the favorite also means that the Gophers have a lot at stake this weekend. In addition to their undefeated 9-0 dual meet record so far this season, five individual wrestlers also have spotless records on the line. Jason Davids (20-0), Tim Hartung (17-0), Eggum (17-0), Josh Holiday (16-0) and Chad Kraft (8-0) will meet many of their highly ranked counterparts at the National Duals.
Marr expected at Duals
All nine of the Gophers returning 1997 NCAA qualifiers will be back in the starting lineup at the National Duals. After competing at 142 pounds in open tournaments in the early part of the season, Gophers junior Troy Marr will take the mat at 134 pounds at the National Duals.
Marr is expected to make the 134-pound requirement for only the second time this season. The first time was Jan. 4 in the Great Plains Tournament in Lincoln, Neb. After losing his first match, Marr strung together seven straight wins to place third at 134 pounds. He holds an 18-5 overall record this season.
J Robinson was complimentary of his team’s performance against Nebraska. He said that the 43-3 win was a positive sign for the Gophers.
“They’re sort of on a roll, they’re wrestling hard,” Robinson said. “That’s how we want to go into that tournament.”