Lesnar calls for strong efforts to lead Minnesota wrestlers

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. Following Brock Lesnar’s loss to Iowa’s Wes Hand two weeks ago, Gophers wrestling coach J Robinson put the clamps on media access to his star heavyweight.
Then, when Lesnar gave a lackluster performance in his semifinal win at the Big Ten tournament, Robinson chewed Lesnar out and appeared to spit him onto the mats at Mackey Arena.
Lesnar responded.
The senior came out in the finals Sunday to earn revenge over Hand and capture his second consecutive conference crown.
“That is why J is there — to put the piss and vinegar back in me,” Lesnar said. “When somebody sparks my fuse, I react better.”
Although it was a defensive battle — a 2-1 decision — Lesnar was clearly more aggressive than he was when he lost to Hand in February.
Lesnar was close to a couple of early takedowns, but one was outside the circle, and the other came as the clock ran out in the second period.
“It’s a “W,” and it’s in the record books now,” Lesnar said. “It’s history. Nothing you can do about it now.”
It was a win, but Robinson said Lesnar still needs to be more aggressive at nationals in two weeks.
“I think he could have done more; he could have taken more shots. He knows that,” Robinson said. “But at the same time, he did what he had to.”
Following the match, Lesnar was pleased with his performance at Big Ten meet despite his team losing to Iowa.
Lesnar was quick to point out that if all nine Minnesota wrestlers who qualified for the NCAA meet focus on their own task, the Gophers will be in good shape come nationals.
“From the beginning I have said this: ‘If everybody worries about themselves, things will pull together,'” Lesnar said.
“A team (title) would be good for everybody, but I tell you this is an individual sport. You go down to the practice room every single day for yourself. The “I” and “we” all pull together in the end. If you wrestle hard seven minutes for yourself, good things will happen for the team.”
The NCAAmeet is in two weeks in St. Louis. The Gophers have no other meets for the remainder of the year.
Freshmen on fire
The Gophers’ two freshmen, Jared Lawrence and Luke Becker, were impressive at the Big Ten tourney.
Both wrestlers made the finals of their respective weight classes before falling in the championship. Minnesota hasn’t had a freshman Big Ten champion since 1988.
“They wrestled great matches,” Minnesota assistant coach Marty Morgan said. “Both the guys they lost to are obviously real experienced.”
The lack of “big” meet experience might have hurt the pair. Sunday was their first chance to feel the pressure of a postseason tourney. But they’ll get another shot in two weeks at the NCAA meet.
Lawrence was disappointed with the outcome but remains optimistic about his chances at nationals.
“Better to have it happen here than two weeks from now,” Lawrence said.
Host hell
Minnesota and Iowa fans were easy to spot as the two largest groups of fans in the stands of Mackey Arena.
But a look around the half-empty arena showed very little support for the Boilermakers — the host team.
The lack of Purdue fans reflected the struggles of the Boilermakers wrestling team. Purdue became the first host school since Illinois in 1966 to finish in last place.

John R. Carter covers wrestling and welcomes comments at [email protected]