Grapplers drop a pair of Big Ten matches

Aaron Blake

When Wisconsin came to town Friday, Minnesota wrestling’s 165-pound starter Casey Flaherty knew he would probably battle his brother, Kelly Flaherty. But besides thickening the plot a little bit, the Flaherty match ended up serving as both a microcosm and a turning point for the weekend.

Casey Flaherty, the older of the two, had always been a notch above Kelly Flaherty. But much like the entire Minnesota team, Casey Flaherty got a reality check this weekend, dropping a 17-0 technical fall to his brother while the 12th-ranked Gophers dropped both of the weekend’s duals.

“I’ve been wrestling with my brother all my life,” Casey Flaherty said. “I’ve usually beaten him. But now he’s just gone to another level with his leg-riding and stuff. There was nothing I could do. He was just turning me like crazy.”

The five points Kelly Flaherty earned spurred the 13th-ranked Badgers’ (15-3, 2-1 Big Ten) 17-16 win Friday night at Williams Arena, and then the Gophers struggled through an even less impressive 18-15 loss Sunday to 18th-ranked Purdue (16-4, 2-2).

The Gophers (7-6, 1-3) hadn’t lost to Wisconsin since 1995-96 and to Purdue since 1991-92.

“When they’re not wrestling hard, they’re not wrestling the way that we used to wrestle,” coach J Robinson said. “They’ve got 100 different reasons why. They’re all excuses.”

Minnesota (7-6, 1-3) took just three actual matches from the Boilermakers, earning six points on a forfeit win for Andrew Domingues at 125 pounds.

Flaherty rebounded to score a 5-0 decision over Purdue’s Bryce Markley early in Sunday’s match. But the Gophers still trailed 9-3 heading into the 197-pound match thanks to losses by 157-pounder Matt Nagel, 174-pounder Jon Duncombe and 184-pounder Josh McLay.

National champion Damion Hahn got three points back with a 5-1 decision over the Boilermakers’ Nathan Moore at 197, but his best efforts to score a pin and earn some bonus points for his team went unrewarded.

Eighth-ranked heavyweight Cole Konrad then dropped his match to 11th-ranked Israel Blevins, whom he scored a 14-6 major decision on earlier this season.

After the Gophers got Domingues’ six points, Quincy Osborn lost at 133 and Tommy Owen won at 141, setting up a 15-15 tie before the final match at 149 pounds.

Redshirt freshman Thomas McAlpine, who hasn’t wrestled since Jan. 4, couldn’t quite come through, losing 7-2 to 18th-ranked Dan Jankowski.

In Friday’s action, the Gophers and Badgers split the matches. But Kelly Flaherty’s five-point tech fall trumped Hahn’s four-point major decision earlier in the match to give Wisconsin the win.