Illini no match for Gophers

Tyler Rushmeyer

The Minnesota wrestling team concluded an undefeated weekend with a convincing 28-12 victory over No. 11 Illinois on Sunday in Champaign, Ill.

up next

Michigan State
when: 7 p.m. Friday
where: Sports Pavilion

With the triumph over the Illini (8-1), previously undefeated in the conference, the Gophers (16-1) now hold sole possession at the top of the Big Ten wrestling hill with a perfect 5-0 record and a streak of 16 consecutive dual-meet victories.

Assistant coach Marty Morgan said the team responded well in the tough environment that is Huff Hall.

“Opposing crowds really fire our guys up,” he said. “It’s a difficult venue and opponent, but we took care of business today.”

The meet began with what has become a familiar pattern for the Gophers, a Jayson Ness victory and emotional boost in the 125-pound match.

This time around, the redshirt freshman, ranked No. 4, picked up a huge pin at 2:25 over No. 6 Gabe Flores. With the win, Ness continues a stretch of over two months of undefeated dual-meet wrestling.

Ness said his match was no doubt crucial for setting the tone early.

“They got a rowdy crowd there, yelling and booing,” he said. “Taking the first match in big fashion turned the whole place silent.”

Two-time All-American Mack Reiter, who made his return to the starting lineup Friday against Indiana, dropped his first decision of the season, 6-3, to No. 8 Jimmy Kennedy.

Reiter said there are aspects of his wrestling that need improvement as he continues his reintegration into the lineup.

“Some things worked this weekend, some didn’t,” he said. “I made some mistakes that I shouldn’t have, but I know they can be fixed.”

Junior Manuel Rivera, ranked No. 2, made sure any momentum gained was quickly lost with his 6-3 decision at 141 pounds, his 31st consecutive victory, which was followed by top-ranked sophomore Dustin Schlatter’s technical fall at 4:19 over junior Dan Zeman to give Minnesota a 14-3 advantage and Schlatter his 56th straight decision.

Junior C.P. Schlatter, ranked No. 3 at 157 pounds and who had defeated the seventh-ranked wrestler in Indiana’s Brandon Becker less than two days before, did battle next with top-ranked Mike Poeta.

In a tight match, which saw a scoreless first period, Poeta picked up an escape and takedown in the second and held on for the close 3-2 decision.

The Gophers’ Tyler Safratowich, who returned to the lineup at 165 pounds, capped off a perfect weekend with a 4-0 shutout decision, which No. 12 Gabe Dretsch followed up with an 11-3 major decision in his first action of the weekend.

Morgan said Safratowich made big strides over the weekend in perhaps capturing the starting job at 165 pounds.

“Both of his wins over ranked opponents were impressive,” he said. “We’re not ready to declare anything yet, but he definitely took a big step forward.”

After No. 2 Roger Kish picked up a 9-5 decision and freshman Brent Eidenschink lost by default to bring Minnesota’s advantage down to its lowest of the afternoon at 24-12, undefeated and top-ranked senior heavyweight Cole Konrad stepped onto the mat, where he proceeded to pick up a 15-1 major decision to add to his school record for consecutive victories, now sitting at 63.

As for the team’s 16-win dual meet streak, Reiter said the team doesn’t concern itself with it.

“Streaks mean nothing to us,” he said. “We focus on our next opponent and only our next opponent, week-in and week-out.”

Gophers down Hoosiers

Minnesota began its weekend road trip by handing out a 29-7 defeat to No. 18 Indiana on Friday night in Bloomington, Ind.

The match was highlighted by Rivera’s 25-10 tech fall against sophomore Scott Kelly, a match which saw Rivera pick up eight takedowns in the third period alone to rattle off his 30th straight victory.

Top-ranked wrestlers senior Konrad and Dustin Schlatter picked up their 55th and 62nd consecutive victories, respectively, to help lead the Gophers to their 15th straight dual meet triumph and a perfect 4-0 record in the Big Ten.