Cashed out: Gophers slip to 7th in Vegas

Aaron Blake

Minnesota’s wrestling team finished a disappointing seventh in the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational over the weekend, its final tune-up before its first dual meet of the season.

No. 10 Nebraska took home the team title, winning individual championships at 125, 149 and 184 pounds. No. 7 Michigan finished second.

“It’s a situation we haven’t been in for a while,” assistant coach Joe Russell said. “Doing that poorly in the tournament is not something we planned on going in. But we definitely got to see a lot of the things we need to work on to get where we want to be.”

This weekend’s tournament was the third in four weeks for

Minnesota. Russell said the coaches felt it was important to get their young squad in a lot of matches before the team began competing in dual meets.

By this time last year, the Gophers had already competed in three dual meets. Iowa State, who the Gophers battle at 7 p.m. Friday at Target Center, already has seven head-to-head match-ups under its belt.

“Helping the young guys grow up faster is going to be a real important factor down the road,” Russell said. “We need the young guys to step up a lot more than they are right now. We’re not learning the fun way – by winning – but we’re learning what not to do at this point.”

Redshirt freshman Cole Konrad led the third-ranked Gophers by posting a 5-1 record for the weekend, finishing third in the heavyweight division.

Konrad lost in the round of 16 to Harvard’s Jonas Corl. But he rebounded to win four straight bouts and earn a 3-2 decision over Arizona State’s Cain Velasquez in the third-place match.

The Gophers’ Damion Hahn, the defending NCAA champion at 197 pounds, was hindered by a rib injury suffered two weeks ago in Omaha, Neb., at the Kaufman-Brand Open. He lost in the round of 16 to Dana College’s Wynn Fangmeier and forfeited the subsequent consolation match.

“He hadn’t been able to practice much all week,” Russell said. “He was really just out there to help the team by trying to compete. In hindsight, he wasn’t ready.

“It’s great to see that kind of leadership from a senior when he’s not even close to being as healthy as he needs to be.”

Fellow senior Jacob Volkmann earned fifth place at 165 pounds, junior Bobbe Lowe finished seventh at 125 pounds and sophomore Tommy Owen was eighth at 141.