Morgan sees opportunity

The redshirt junior started for the first time at 133 pounds Sunday afternoon.

Ben Morgan contends against Purdue wrestler Luke Welch in the 133-pound weight class matchup at the Sports Pavilion on Sunday.

Liam James Doyle

Ben Morgan contends against Purdue wrestler Luke Welch in the 133-pound weight class matchup at the Sports Pavilion on Sunday.

Jack White

Transfer student Ben Morgan was ineligible the first half of the season but made his presence known in his Minnesota debut Sunday.
 
 
The redshirt junior earned six points on a technical fall against Purdue in his first dual since transferring from Nebraska last year, and the fall proved to be the difference in a 23-18 Gophers victory.
 
 
“I think it was the spark that we needed to get things going,” head coach J Robinson said. “I think it’s a great example of [how] a lot of times guys are in the room, and they don’t get to show us what they got. … [Morgan] stepped up.”
 
 
Morgan started at 133 pounds for Minnesota’s last dual, replacing redshirt junior Sam Brancale. With Brancale in the lineup, the Gophers were 5-7 in dual meets at 133 pounds, and Robinson said he hasn’t decided who will start moving forward.
 
 
“Those two will probably be stringing it out,” Robinson said. “[We’ll] see which one steps up.”
 
 
Morgan was a two-time state champion at Forest Lake High School and set the program’s all-time victories record before going to Nebraska.
 
 
He committed to the Cornhuskers to stand out among his family members, as his father and uncle both wrestled for the Gophers. His uncle was also a member of the Minnesota coaching staff from 1993 to 2008.
 
 
Morgan wrestled for the Cornhuskers for two seasons before coming to Minnesota. He redshirted his first year and went 13-7 overall and 0-2 in dual his first year competing.
He stayed with the Cornhuskers two years before deciding it wasn’t the right fit.
 
 
“I went to the Cornhuskers because I kind of grew up here my entire life,” Morgan said. “My senior year of high school I kind of wanted to do my own thing, so I went out to Nebraska. But it wasn’t really the right fit after a couple years, and I realized I should finish my career where it started, which was at Minnesota.” 
 
 
He then transferred back to his home state but had to wait to compete in dual meets.
 
 
Morgan had a 16-4 record in open tournaments last year and placed in the top five in all four tournaments he competed in.
 
 
Sunday was his first chance to start for Minnesota. He said he joked with his coaches that he was going to play it cool when he took to the mat, but he ultimately wasn’t able to make it happen.
 
 
“I wasn’t trying to smile when I went out there for the first time, but when I went through the doors … it just felt like home,” Morgan said.