Minnesota prepares for final conference dual

The Gophers host Penn State to wrap up the 2009-10 regular season.

Derek Wetmore

The No. 5 Minnesota wrestling team is set to take on No. 10 Penn State Friday night at the Sports Pavilion . The dual with the Nittany Lions will be the GophersâÄô final tune-up prior to the Big Ten tournament, which begins Mar. 6 in Ann Arbor, Mich. Minnesota (11-5 overall, 6-1 Big Ten) is coming off a loss at the hands of No. 1 Iowa and was previously undefeated in Big Ten competition. Iowa broke MinnesotaâÄôs streak of six consecutive dual victories. Penn State (13-5-1, 5-2) is riding a four-dual win streak heading into FridayâÄôs competition. The Nittany LionsâÄô last loss came at Iowa. Head coach J Robinson said that the Iowa match was a good benchmark for where the team stands heading into the Big Ten tournament. âÄúWe got an idea of exactly what we have to do,âÄù Robinson said. âÄúWe got to wrestle the best team, so we know where we are so we can improvise, adapt, overcome and change some things.âÄù Sophomore Zach Sanders (125 pounds) echoed RobinsonâÄôs statement about Iowa being a good team to measure up against heading into the tournament. âÄúTheyâÄôre a tough team and I think [losing to Iowa] motivated our team. After the match we came right back [to the training facility] and had a hard work out.âÄù Sanders said. âÄúA few guys had some things to say, and it brought us closer together and motivated us for the future.âÄù Two of the primary motivators for the Gophers are seniors Jayson Ness (133) and Dustin Schlatter (157 ), ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. Assistant coach Brandon Eggum said it is important to have guys on the team who lead by example. âÄúThe other guys see [Ness and Schlatter] doing the extra things, and they see the success theyâÄôve had and they want to follow that,âÄù Eggum said. Sanders, who is ranked No. 6, said he has taken note of what the senior leadership has been doing. âÄúItâÄôs not just an accident that they got to where they are,âÄù Sanders said. Schlatter has a key matchup this Friday as he is set to take on No. 6 Cyler Sanderson . Sanderson is currently on a four-match pin streak and enters FridayâÄôs dual meet as one of Penn StateâÄôs hottest wrestlers. As Minnesota wraps up the season against another top 10 opponent, the focus is on finishing strong and looking forward to the Big Ten and national tournaments. âÄúEnding the Big Ten season on a high note would be great,âÄù Eggum said. âÄúAny time you go into the Big Ten season and youâÄôre on a roll and you have confidence, youâÄôre probably going to have a better Big Ten tournament.âÄù The coaches have stressed over the past couple of weeks that the team needs to clean up some aspects of its game to prepare for Penn State and the tournaments. âÄúThereâÄôs a lot that needs to be done here in three weeks and in this sport, a lot of itâÄôs going to be upstairs (mental),âÄù Eggum said. âÄúBelieving in your tools and in yourself is the biggest adjustment.âÄù Looking ahead, Robinson said he is excited about the prospects of competing in the upcoming tournaments. âÄúWe look forward to the Big Ten tournament,âÄù Robinson said. âÄúI think this team is a lot better than people think it is.âÄù