Gophers head to Omaha eyeing several wins

The Kaufman-Brand Open features more than 35 teams.

Mark Mowery

The Minnesota wrestling team heads to Omaha, Neb. this Saturday to take part in the 27th annual Ryan Kaufman-Glen Brand Open. The Open, hosted by the University of Nebraska-Omaha, features more than 600 wrestlers from more than 35 teams across the country. After winning seven titles and sending 14 wrestlers to championship matches at the Bison Open last weekend, the Gophers look to continue to attack in matches early and often. Head coach J Robinson hopes the team can continue utilizing an aggressive and attacking form the team established in the first tournament last weekend. âÄúThe mindset you want them to have is the same. It doesnâÄôt make a difference whether theyâÄôre at the Bison Open or at Omaha,âÄù Robinson said. âÄúWhat we want is to use the Bison, that they had a good mindset about being aggressive, dominating and getting after it. We want them to do the same thing here.âÄù Though the competition is a significant upgrade, the team still eyes championships in several weight classes. Minnesota returns two champions from last yearâÄôs Open: redshirt sophomore Zach Sanders from the 125-pound division and redshirt junior Mike Thorn from the 141 division . While Sanders will not compete in the Kaufman-Brand Open, Thorn looks to repeat as champion. The Gophers also return three second place finishers in senior Dustin Schlatter (157), redshirt junior Ben Berhow (heavyweight) and redshirt junior Scott Glasser (165). Schlatter has since moved up two weight classes to 165 pounds while Glasser has moved up one class to 174 pounds. âÄúWe expect a lot out of this weekend,âÄù senior Jayson Ness said. âÄúPretty much, one thing weâÄôre looking for is guys giving a lot of effort.âÄù The team is poised to continue their mental edge over opponents. âÄúThe biggest thing is just mental toughness. ItâÄôs really hard mentally to get after a guy the whole seven minutes to keep on him and to keep attacking,âÄù Ness said. âÄúWe want to make sure our guys are going out there giving their full effort, just hoping to build that mental toughness.âÄù Regardless of the talent level, Robinson demands intensity and focus. âÄúYou wrestle everybody the same. You get out there and when the whistle blows you take more shots than he does,âÄù Robinson said. âÄúYou push him off the edge of the mat and you control the pace of the match, all those things.âÄù While the rest of the Gopher team travels to Omaha, All-American sophomore Zach Sanders will compete in the NCWA All-Star Classic at California State-Fullerton. Sanders, who was supposed to face redshirt All-American Anthony Robles in the 125 class, will wait to see who he will face at the event after Robles chose to wrestle with the rest of his team in dual meets at Oklahoma State and Oklahoma this weekend. âÄúIâÄôve been thinking about wrestling in it since I was a little kid watching it on TV,âÄù Sanders said. âÄúIt should be pretty interesting, a pretty fun time. ThereâÄôs not too much pressure because itâÄôs like an exhibition, but just go out and wrestle and see what I need to get better at the next time I wrestle.âÄù