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Schlatter a reversal at 149

After the trio of Jeremy Anderson, Thomas McAlpine and Keri Stanley combined to go 11-29 and missed qualifying for NCAAs at 149 pounds last year, it was clear Minnesota’s wrestling team needed a change heading into this season.

It took until Dec. 29, but with the recovery of one wrestler, Minnesota was made a more viable threat nationally and in the Big Ten – and finally had its 149-pound starter.

When redshirt freshman C.P. Schlatter returned from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, 149 pounds instantly changed from a long-standing question mark to a spot of strength in the Gophers lineup.

“We couldn’t win there; and with (Schlatter) back, now we expect to win at 149 every time out,” Gophers coach J Robinson said. “In duals, it really helps that he can win there, and that gives a boost to the rest of the team.”

In the three duals before Schlatter’s return, Danny Williams and Tommy Owen combined to go 0-3 at 149 pounds and gave up bonus points in all three matches.

Schlatter has gone 6-1 this season and is undefeated in two dual meets. And he’s trying his best to make up for lost time.

After winning first place in the Greco-Roman competition in July’s Junior Pan Am Games in Venezuela, Schlatter injured his knee during the freestyle event. He tried to wrestle through the injury but aggravated it further and was diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

Because the injury came on the heels of a redshirt season, it meant Schlatter was away from team competition for a year and a half before he was able to return.

“Coming back has been tougher than I thought it would be,” Schlatter said. “I still need to work on getting my weight back where it should be.”

As part of a recruiting class that is regarded as the best in school history, Schlatter is just now taking his spot in the starting lineup alongside fellow redshirt freshmen Mack Reiter, Roger Kish and Matt Koz.

“I know he was itching to get back into competition,” Reiter said. “He was one of the top recruits in the nation, so seeing him sit on the sideline has been tough.”

Schlatter’s first action with the Gophers finally came Dec. 29-30 at the Southern Scuffle in Greensboro, N.C., in which he went 4-1 with two pins en route to taking second place.

But when he faced second-ranked Dustin Manotti of Cornell in the final, the rust from his time away from active competition showed.

Schlatter dropped a 10-2 major decision and was unable to do much of anything against Manotti.

“I think it was a little bit overwhelming,” Robinson said. “I think he got out of his game plan, and C.P.’s a guy who depends on his game plan.”

Schlatter was able to rebound from the loss in the Gophers’ next two dual meets by beating 20th-ranked Chris Nedens of Nebraska and Iowa State’s Jason Knipp – both in duals that Minnesota lost.

With those wins, Schlatter entered the 149-pound national rankings at No. 16.

And despite missing two months of wrestling this season, Robinson said he believes the time off will, in the end, benefit Schlatter.

“In some ways, it’ll help him be more fresh as the season goes on,” he said. “No coach wants to have a kid go down. But, of anybody, you’d want it to be a guy like C.P., who does everything to be ready.”

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