After redshirting a year ago, Thorn back in full force

Mike Thorn admits it âÄî redshirting last season was a drag. âÄúThere were a couple times when I was getting kind of bored,âÄù the sophomore said. It didnâÄôt help that Thorn already had a full year of collegiate wrestling under his belt. He was slated to redshirt as a true freshman, but after All-American Mack Reiter injured his knee in the fall of 2006, Thorn stepped into the starting role at 133-pounds for much of the season, then redshirted the following year when Reiter returned. But itâÄôs not like Thorn was idle. He wrestled unattached in a number of open tournaments, piled up 19 wins and eight pins in 20 matches and moved up into the 141-pound weight class. Still, he got antsy. âÄúJust being at the NCAA tournament and not competing last year made me want to get back into it,âÄù Thorn said. HeâÄôs back into it now, and early signs indicate he might be putting on quite a show at the tournament come March. Three tournaments and three duals into the season, Thorn is 15-2. HeâÄôs risen to No. 10 at 141-pounds in the most recent InterMat/NWCA/NWMA Division I Individual Rankings . At last weekendâÄôs Las Vegas Invitational, he knocked off Ohio StateâÄôs J Jaggers, the reigning national champion at 141. So while the year off may have been frustrating and come at an atypical time for Thorn, it clearly wasnâÄôt wasted. Instead, assistant coach Joe Russell believes the fact that he had significant experience before redshirting was a major boon. âÄú âÄòWhat do I need to do to be great in college?âÄô âÄù Russell asked rhetorically. âÄúHe got to find that out firsthand instead of just coaches telling him. And so last year when he redshirted, I think he prepared himself well for what heâÄôs done so far this year.âÄù He must have. ThereâÄôs been no letdown or rust after a significant hiatus from collegiate wrestling. âÄúI think with some guys it can hurt if they donâÄôt prepare properly,âÄù Russell said about coming back from a year off. âÄúBut [Mike] definitely did prepare.âÄù Thorn has quickly become a key cog in MinnesotaâÄôs 2008 wrestling machine, which has been especially dominant in the lighter weight classes. Redshirt freshman Zach Sanders (125), junior Jayson Ness (133) and Thorn have a combined record of 44-4 in 2008. âÄúThe beginning of the season is the time to prove yourself and show that youâÄôre in the mix with all the top guys,âÄù Thorn said. ItâÄôs doubtful anyoneâÄôs asking him to prove that at this point âÄî heâÄôs right in the mix.