Gophers change up postseason preparation

Minnesota opts for more individual work leading to Big Ten tourney.

by Derek Wetmore

As the GophersâÄô wrestling schedule jumps from the regular season to the postseason, the teamâÄôs everyday preparation is also changing. Fifth-ranked Minnesota (12-5 overall, 7-1 Big Ten) is having more intense, individually focused practices as its focus becomes the Big Ten tournament, which will take place March 6-7 in Ann Arbor, Mich. Although his strict training schedule led to plenty of success in the Big Ten this season, head coach J Robinson said the team changed the practice regimen leading up to last FridayâÄôs victory over Penn State in the regular-season finale. âÄúWe had some shorter periods when we were wrestling, and we moved our training schedule around to fit more for not only the team, but the individuals,âÄù Robinson said. âÄúThere are some individual things, technically, that we want to work on.âÄù Practices were generally focused on the whole team throughout the regular season. But since last week, they have been segmented to allow for coaches and wrestlers to do more individual training. âÄúThere are certain times to get the team together, but there are certain times to work with guys one-on-one,âÄù Robinson said. The Gophers have exchanged duration for intensity in practice, said senior Dustin Schlatter (157 pounds). âÄúOur mindset is âÄòshorter, but more intense,âÄô so we can get in and get out,âÄù he said. âÄúBut while weâÄôre in there, itâÄôs 100 percent focus, and weâÄôre going hard.âÄù Junior heavyweight Ben Berhow said the change in focus for practices comes from the program being built for the goals of Big Ten championships and national titles. âÄúIntensity is a learned skill,âÄù he said. âÄúWeâÄôve got to take it up a notch here going into the Big Tens, but weâÄôre just going to go through some tough training cycles, take a couple days off, relax and have a little fun, and then get back to work.âÄù Senior Jayson Ness (133) said that less is more heading into the postseason competition. âÄúTowards the end of the season, weâÄôve already put in a ton of work, so youâÄôre not going to be able to add a lot more,âÄù he said. âÄú[By] making the practices shorter, more intense, weâÄôll be able to get more out of our practice.âÄù That doesnâÄôt mean the Gophers have backed away from putting in the necessary time. The wrestlers had a players-only practice following the loss to top-ranked Iowa on Feb. 14. âÄúSchlatter and Ness took the guys out last Sunday night,âÄù Robinson said. âÄúThey kicked it in the butt, and I think itâÄôs going to pay off.âÄù The wrestlers made no secret that they hope it pays off in the form of championships. âÄúThe teamâÄôs goals and my goals are the same,âÄù Schlatter said. âÄúWe want to win the Big Ten title and the national title. I think, both for the team and for myself, it is within reach, and thatâÄôs what weâÄôre shooting for.âÄù As the team pursues its postseason goals, Schlatter said the new practice routine prevents burnout and keeps wrestlers fresh. âÄúYou want to be excited going into these tournaments,âÄù he said. âÄúThis time is for being selfish, I think. Each person is selfish where we can work on what we need. Obviously, the better the individual [performances], the better the team.âÄù