Gophers bounce back, beat Hawkeyes

Minnesota got two upset wins that paced the team to a win on the road.

Jared Christensen

No. 4 Minnesota traveled to Iowa City, Iowa, this weekend and handed the No. 2 Hawkeyes their first conference loss of the season.

The Gophers’ (8-1, 5-1 Big Ten) win came at an opportune time — the team was upset by Michigan a week ago. It also came in a tough environment — in front of more than 10,000 fans at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Minnesota head assistant coach Brandon Eggum said he was pleased with his team’s turnaround.

“It’s nice to see these guys be able to put a setback from the previous week behind them, then move forward and wrestle a good match,” he said.

Minnesota redshirt freshman Sam Brancale said the road environment was pretty intimidating at first.

“You just have to hone in and focus,” he said. “And once you do that, the crowd noise goes away.”

That strategy worked for him, as his upset win got things rolling for the Gophers.

Brancale earned a first-round pin over No. 3 Thomas Gilman and gave the Gophers an early 6-0 lead.

Though Gilman was heavily favored on paper, Eggum expressed confidence in Brancale.

“In some sense, it was a little surprising,” he said, “but it’s not like we haven’t seen him wrestle like that [at practice]. … It was nice to see the Sam Brancale we know come out and wrestle.”

Brancale said he just wanted to get things started on the right foot.

“I know I just have to get the ball rolling and get the momentum going for us,” he said, adding that he relishes the responsibility of starting matches for his squad.

After that, it was a back-and-forth dual that wasn’t decided until redshirt junior Scott Schiller landed a major decision in the 197-pound bout, putting the score at 19-12 and the dual officially out of reach.

Another upset that helped catapult the Gophers to the win was No. 14 Dylan Ness’ upset of No. 2 Derek St. John at 157 pounds.

Ness trailed 3-2 with 15 seconds left but managed a reversal and three back points for a 7-4 win as time expired.

“It’s the adrenaline,” Ness said, “I knew I had to score, and I just did it.”

That win gave the Gophers a 12-6 lead entering the halftime break.

The Hawkeyes, however, came out firing in the second half. They claimed the next two matches to knot the score at 12-12.

In the 174-pound match, No. 6 Mike Evans beat No. 5 Logan Storley — but not before emotions hit a boiling point.

Some extra shoving at the end of the first period got both benches — and the announced crowd of 10,588 — riled up.

“They are both real competitive, no doubt about it,” Eggum said. “Evans is the kind of guy who is pushing, shoving and talking in every match. That’s just his personality. … He comes out, and he wants to win.”

No. 2 Tony Nelson fell to No. 3 Bobby Telford in overtime — his second straight loss — but the match had no impact on the dual.