Dramatic finish helps Gophers sweep

Minnesota’s win against Oregon State came down to the last match.

Minnesotas Kevin Steinhaus (184 pounds) wrestles Northwesterns Marcus Shrewsbury on Friday at the Sports Pavilion. The Gophers defeated the Wildcats 33-7.

Image by Emily Dunker

Minnesota’s Kevin Steinhaus (184 pounds) wrestles Northwestern’s Marcus Shrewsbury on Friday at the Sports Pavilion. The Gophers defeated the Wildcats 33-7.

by Dane Mizutani

The Gophers wrestling team bounced back from its first loss a week ago with two wins at the Sports Pavilion  over the weekend.

The weekend sweep was no easy task, though. Minnesota dominated Northwestern 33-7 on Friday night but needed a dramatic win in the final match Saturday to beat Oregon State.

With the score tied 18-18, defending national heavyweight champion Tony Nelson stepped onto the mat for the Gophers. His opponent was the mammoth Chad Hanke  from the Beavers. 

Hanke, the No. 6 heavyweight in the nation, was the aggressor in the match, but Nelson was the better wrestler in the end. His victory gave the Gophers a 21-18 win. 

“We can say if it comes down to the heavyweights, we’ve got the NCAA champion,” Minnesota head coach J Robinson  said. “It was a lot of cat and mouse in the bout because no one wanted to make a mistake.”

Nelson outlasted Hanke in the double-overtime brawl and won with eight seconds of riding time after five overtime periods.

Nelson and Hanke exchanged escapes in the overtimes, but Nelson prevailed in the end.

“It’s a pressure situation, but I’ve wrestled there before, and a lot of times with heavyweights, it’s going to come down to that,” Nelson said.

Robinson said he was satisfied with the result but said his team needs to stay aggressive across the board.

“Tony has to become more aggressive,” Robinson said after the dual with Oregon State. “He’s a lot better as far as offensive-wise than he showed there, and in the national tournament you can’t do those things.”

Robinson offered the same critique of his team after its dominant win over Northwestern on Friday.

Minnesota won eight matches — two via forfeits — en route to a 33-7 victory, but the veteran coach still found areas to improve.

“We had a couple matches that were close at the end, and we can’t do that,” Robinson said. “If we are ahead, we’ve got to be worried about scoring extra points to try and get a bonus.”

Robinson said Seth Lange  (149) and Cody Yohn  (165) focused too much on the win, which hurt their overall performance.

That was not the case for 184-pounder Kevin Steinhaus .

Steinhaus was aggressive all weekend and won with two huge technical falls. He won 15-0 on Friday and 22-7 on Saturday .

 “I always assume that I’m better [than my opponent],” Steinhaus said Friday night. “I went out there and tried to score points and was able to get some turns in.”

Minnesota is still searching for an answer at 157 pounds. Brad Dolezal  and Danny Zilverberg  had a chance to take control this weekend, but both were handled with ease in their bouts.

The answer won’t come until after winter break. The Gophers have about three weeks off from competition before resuming action with the Southern Scuffle on Jan. 1-2 in Chattanooga, Tenn .

Nelson said it was important to enter the break on a high note.

Robinson agreed but said the tournament in three weeks is important because it will sort out the dilemma at 157 pounds.