Hawkeyes win elite border battle

No. 5 Minnesota could not compete with No. 1 Iowa, winning just three matches Sunday.

Minnesota senior (#1 overall) Jayson Ness throws down Iowa senior (#3 overall) Daniel Dennis on Sunday at Williams Arena.

Jules Ameel

Minnesota senior (#1 overall) Jayson Ness throws down Iowa senior (#3 overall) Daniel Dennis on Sunday at Williams Arena.

by Derek Wetmore

No. 5 Minnesota hosted No. 1 Iowa in a battle between two of the nationâÄôs top wrestling teams Sunday night at Williams Arena. In the end, the Gophers were unable to match IowaâÄôs firepower and dropped the dual by a final team score of 28-9. Minnesota had seven of its 10 wrestlers starting ranked in the top 20 at their respective weight classes, while Iowa had eight. The Gophers could only secure three decisions while Iowa earned one decision, five major decisions and a technical fall. IowaâÄôs No. 1 Brent Metcalf (149 pounds) earned the technical fall against No. 16 Mario Mason . Top-ranked Minnesota senior Jayson Ness (133 ) wrestled well against No. 3 Daniel Dennis, winning by decision. His decision got Minnesota back into the match after falling behind early with Zach SandersâÄô loss by major decision. Ness jumped out to an early lead with two takedowns in the first period and never relinquished control of the match. The victory put Ness at 22-0 on the season, 10-0 in duals and 3-0 in the Big Ten. Beyond the Ness match there were few high points for a Gophers team that was riding a six-meet win streak in the Big Ten and hadnâÄôt lost since Jan. 10 . Injuries have been a concern lately for Minnesota, but the Gophers had all their wrestlers healthy for SundayâÄôs dual. Sanders was slowed after sitting out last weekend with an ankle injury, but Ness was back to full strength as well, and showed it in his decision over Dennis. No. 2 Dustin Schlatter (157 ) recorded a decision and afterward received high praise from IowaâÄôs head coach. Iowa head coach Tom Brands said Schlatter deserves the No. 1 ranking at 157 for the way heâÄôs been wrestling this season. Minnesota head coach J Robinson was also impressed by Schlatter. âÄúHeâÄôs taken a real leadership role in getting some of the younger kids to do extra stuff,âÄù Robinson said. âÄúI think that will kick in once we get to the Big Ten and national tournaments.âÄù Robinson said he was disappointed with the results but viewed this matchup with Iowa as a benchmark for where the Gophers stand as the postseason tournaments approach. âÄúWeâÄôve got three weeks until the Big Ten tournament, and you need to bring youâÄôre A game to the Big Ten tournament,âÄù Robinson said. âÄúWe got to wrestle the best team, so we know where we are.âÄù Robinson said he was unhappy with some of his wrestlersâÄô effort levels. A team can often fall into the trap of admitting defeat before the match is over, and Robinson said attitudes like that are unacceptable. Taking on the No. 1-ranked team in the country can be a daunting task, but one of this teamâÄôs credos all year long has been âÄústrive to wrestle a full seven minutes.âÄù By merely avoiding takedowns and not attacking and going for points of their own, several Gophers wrestlers may have missed opportunities to impress Sunday. Minnesota will take on Penn State this Friday in its final tune-up before the Big Ten Tournament. The conference tournament begins March 6 in Ann Arbor, Mich.