Disastrous day two leaves Minnesota in 8th place

The Gophers had just one win in the championship bracket.

Trevor Born

ST. LOUIS – When Jayson Ness pinned James Nicholson first thing Friday morning, it looked like it might be a good quarterfinals session for the Gophers at the NCAA wrestling championships.

It wasn’t.

The other four Gophers still in the championship bracket all lost, as well as the three Gophers in the consolation bracket as Minnesota finished the morning session tied for eighth. After the night session they sit in 10th place with 56.5 points. Iowa has all but locked up the tournament with 102 points.

Friday night Ness beat third seeded Paul Donahoe of Iowa State to advance to the 125-pound championship Saturday night.

A few of Minnesota’s morning losses were expected ñ Mack Reiter at 133-pounds and Roger Kish at 184-pounds both loss to top-seeded opponents ñ but several were upsets. No. 2 Dustin Schlatter lost to a No. 7 seed in the championship round while No. 8 Gabe Dretsch and No. 5 CP Schlatter both lost to unseeded opponents in the consolation bracket.

“It was horrible,” fifth-seeded Manuel Rivera, who lost to a No. 4 seed said. “Nobody performed the way they needed to, or were capable of.”

Gabe Dretsch and C.P. Schlatter both saw their careers end, while Reiter, Rivera and Kish will all finish their careers without national championships.

Reiter, after losing a close 5-3 match, sat with his head buried in his hands for a few moments before leaving the arena in tears.

“Everything I’ve worked for my whole life, I lost this morning,” he said.

After the disastrous morning, the five Gophers still in the tournament met to prepare for the night session, where the four in the consolation bracket had a chance to finish in the top eight, which means an All-American award. It’s difficult to get up for a consolation match after a tough loss, Reiter said.

“I’ve been dreaming of being a national champion my whole life,” he said. “When you have one dream for 19 years, it’s hard to change dreams that quick.”

Reiter, Rivera and Dustin Schlatter all won their first match of the night session, while 184-pound Roger Kish, who had very little movement from his left arm because of back and neck injuries, lost a close match.

Ness will have a chance to partially redeem the Gophers Friday night, when he wrestles top-seeded Angel Escobedo in the 125-pound championship. It was Escobedo who ended Ness’ 37-match winning streak in the championship match of the Big Ten tournament.

“I know how dangerous he is. He is a great wrestler and we’ve had great battles,” Escobedo said.

A win from Ness could move the Gophers back in to the top five, where they have finished outside of just once in 15 years.