Gophers take on Cyclones after huge win

by Tyler Rushmeyer

The Minnesota wrestling team learned a valuable lesson the last time it was the top-ranked team in the country — don’t overlook anyone.

Just two weeks ago, the Gophers — ranked No. 1 in the country at the time — fell to No. 11 Hofstra in their season-opening dual meet and spent the next week and a half looking up at No. 1 Oklahoma State.

Now, with Minnesota presumably back on the No. 1 perch after its upset over the top-ranked Cowboys on Wednesday, the Gophers will have another opportunity tonight to begin defending it.

Minnesota travels to Ames, Iowa, to face No. 7 Iowa State at the Hilton Coliseum at 8 p.m.

The Cyclones (2-1) are coming off a crushing defeat against in-state rival lowa, 24-6, on Sunday.

Iowa State is led by a pair of brothers, Trent and Travis Paulson.

Both two-time All-Americans rank No. 1 at 157 and No. 4 at 165, respectively.

The Cyclones also have redshirt freshman Jake Varner (184), ranked No. 3 with a 10-0 record.

Gophers coach J Robinson said his team needs to quickly refocus after Wednesday’s meet to face off against another tough opponent in a matter of days and avoid a letdown.

“In wrestling, you have to have a good day everyday, otherwise you got a Hofstra,” he said. “Iowa State is a great matchup in a lot of ways. A 6-4, 5-5 match Ö should be the same thing all over again Friday night.”

Minnesota took six of 10 matches against Oklahoma State in an emotionally draining contest, coming away with a 21-15 triumph.

Junior Gabe Dretsch (174), ranked No. 13, won the pivotal match Wednesday night and said the Gophers will need to get used to the grind, something they will deal with for the rest of the season.

“It’s going to be tough,” he said. “But we got the ball rolling now with a lot of momentum. Hopefully, we can carry it over into Friday night.”

A perennial favorite for Minnesota is top-ranked sophomore Dustin Schlatter (149). With Wednesday’s 15-0 victory, he has now won 40 consecutive matches and continues to wrestle relentlessly, already picking up four shutouts and two pins in his nine matches this season.

But don’t expect the defending national champion to let up anytime soon.

“Beating (Oklahoma) State obviously gives us a lot of confidence heading into Friday,” he said. “But we’ve been in this No. 1 position before and got beaten. So we just need to keep wrestling like we did tonight.”

The Gophers last trip to Iowa to face the Cyclones ended with a 32-6 Minnesota victory, its second of the season against Iowa State. The victories ended a 10-year drought against the Cyclones dating back to 1995.

Dretsch said Minnesota has to be prepared to face off against a historically tough opponent.

“Every match, we need to go out with the same mentality, whether it’s the first team or the last,” he said. “No matter what, they’re ranked – we’ll be ready Friday.”