Gophers newcomer Devin Skatzka continues to impress after downing his former team

Devin Skatzka might be one of the newest members of the Gophers, but he’s on track to have his best season yet.

Redshirt junior Devin Skatzka at 174 competes during the match against South Dakota State on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018 at Maturi Pavilion.

Elle Moulin

Redshirt junior Devin Skatzka at 174 competes during the match against South Dakota State on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018 at Maturi Pavilion.

by David Mullen

As the No. 13 in the 174-weight class, Devin Skatzka’s transition to the Gophers has been nearly flawless.

Skatzka transferred to Minnesota after a three-year stint at Indiana University. He matched up against his former team for the first time on Sunday.

“I enjoyed it. It was fun, but I had a little bit of anxiety wrestling my old team,” Skatzka said after the dual. 

He won his match in an 8-3 decision after getting ahead early in the first two periods with multiple takedowns. 

This makes his season record 21-7, which is one win shy of matching his total from 2018.

“He’s really good in a lot of different areas,” said head coach Brandon Eggum. “Just physically, he is very, very strong … his explosive power on his shots are great.”

Earlier in the week, Skatzka said that going against his former team was a unique opportunity, but it was strange getting prepared to go against his former teammates.

“It’ll be a little weird, I still have a pretty good relationship with a lot of the guys,” Skatzka said. He added that it helped that he was going up against a new addition to the Hoosiers and not one of his friends.

Eggum said it was a rare occurrence where someone like Skatzka transferred to another in-conference program.

“It’s funny because you remember when you were on the other side of the mat,” Eggum said. “You don’t know the other individuals at all … then you get to know them and see he’s an amazing individual.”

During his time in Indiana, Skatzka was an NCAA qualifier twice, had a 60-34 record and finished eighth at the Big Ten Championships in 2018.

Even though Skatzka said he enjoyed his time at Indiana, Eggum said he was looking for a change. 

“He wanted some more opportunities as far as training partners … and a new atmosphere for himself to go and try and grow as a person,” Eggum said.

Eggum said that Indiana’s coaching staff made an unusual move and reached out to him about Skatzka. 

“[They] let us know what a great person he was, which was pretty unique in a lot of ways,” Eggum said. 

Although Skatzka ultimately chose wrestling in college, he was an all-around athlete while attending Richmond High School in Richmond, Michigan. He was a four-time state champion in wrestling, a star two-way football player and participated in baseball and track. He said his heavy involvement in multiple sports prevented him from wrestling at a national level and took away the possibility for more recognition. 

“I didn’t wrestle around the country a lot. In high school I played a bunch of different sports, so I guess I didn’t get as much attention,” Skatzka said.

Skatzka and the Gophers were expected to conclude the regular season against Rider on Thursday, but the dual was canceled due to inclement weather.