Wrestlers to open Big Ten schedule

Sarah Mitchell

Ranked 13th in the nation, Gophers wrestler Pat Connors is in danger of losing his spot on the starting lineup to an unranked teammate. The 133-pound weight class has been unsettled since the season’s beginning and Gophers coaches are still waiting for someone to step forward and claim it.
Senior Bart Golyer looks to be one challenger.
“They’re wrestling the same people with the same results,” Gophers assistant Marty Morgan said. “In a couple of weeks, they’ll probably decide their own fates in a wrestle-off.”
Until that head-to-head competition, in which the taker of two of three seven-minute battles is declared the victor, Connors and Golyer continue to split mat time.
Minnesota’s Big Ten season opens this weekend with No. 10 Michigan (5-1 overall, 1-0 in the Big Ten) in town on Friday and No. 14 Michigan State (3-4) on Sunday. Golyer has been given the early nod and will take the mat against the Wolverines’ Joe Warren.
A 1998 NCAA qualifier, Warren has a 19-3 record this season. Golyer met Warren last season but fell short, 6-2, after taking a desperation shot.
“I’d finish my shots,” said Golyer on his strategy for Friday night. “Plus, I’d cut down his riding time (the amount of time a wrestler spends in a position of advantage over the opponent). He’s a good rider. I’m pretty confident I can beat him on my feet.”
Sharing the 133-pound duty, Connors will wrestle the Spartans’ Pat McNamara on Sunday. McNamara, a sophomore from Jordan, Minn., is ranked second in national polls with a 20-3 record.

Under The Weather
With mid-season bumps and bruises and the winter weather taking their tolls, several Gophers have been selected to lead off conference action.
At 141 pounds, 11th-ranked Chad Erikson has the weekend off, as he has been slowed by a cold. Junior Ty Friederichs will take the freshman’s place and, according to Morgan, should have no problem filling in.
“He earned four state titles in high school,” Morgan said. “He’s lean and long and uses his leverage to win.”
Top-ranked Chad Kraft, previously unbeaten until a loss on Sunday to Oklahoma State’s Jimmy Arias, has also withdrawn from the upcoming dual meets because of illness. Either senior Troy Marr or sophomore Brad Pike are expected to wrestle at the 157-pound weight class.

Brock Rocks
The Wolverines’ Matt Brink has been given clearance to wrestle again after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery last season. But the heavyweight might consider postponing his return appearance.
If Brink sports the singlet on Friday, his first opponent of the season will be the Gophers’ Brock Lesnar. Minnesota’s big man created quite a disturbance in Iowa City last weekend at the National Duals, pinning all four of his opponents.
“He’s probably a remarkable young man to make an impression that big,” Spartans coach Tom Minkel said.
Remarkable might be an understatement. Less than three weeks after becoming eligible, Lesnar has a 7-1 record and a No. 2 ranking. Minkel said, “Lesnar’s presence is good for collegiate wrestling” and leaves the sport’s fans anticipating a matchup between Lesnar and the top-ranked heavyweight, Cal State-Bakersfield’s Stephen Neal.
“It will be worth the price of admission,” Minkel said.