U beat in Duals finals by No. 1 OSU

by Sarah Mitchell

Despite a lower ranking, Minnesota was stripped of the underdog role heading into Sunday’s championship match at the National Duals wrestling tournament. No. 2 Minnesota encountered top-ranked Oklahoma State as a heavy favorite in seven of the 10 weight classes.
But for the second time this season, the Gophers were unable to overcome an early deficit against the Cowboys, falling 20-17 in Iowa City.
“Some really weird things just happened,” senior Josh Holiday said. “Maybe it has become psychological.”
The most unexpected event was the defeat of No. 1 Chad Kraft, a 3-2 loss to 5th-ranked Jimmy Arias. The 157-pounder’s first defeat since the final round of last season’s national championships caused controversy over a safer style of wrestling and the art of stalling.
Oklahoma State wrestlers are known for a timid style, loitering on the outside of the mat and allowing themselves the option to wiggle out in times of danger. Gophers coach J Robinson said “that’s where (Arias) got his whole career.”
“He backs to the edge of the mat, that’s all he does,” Robinson said. “He never shoots at the center. If the referee doesn’t force him to the middle, you put the guy at risk who has to chase the other guy.”
Arias scored the first takedown and then sought refuge on the outside of the mat. To Robinson, Arias was stalling. But as Cowboys go, he was just wrestling wisely.
“My mind-set is to score as many points as I can,” Arias said. “I try to be an offensive wrestler. I get pushed back a lot, but I usually try to take as many shots as possible.”
At 141 pounds, a weight class that was also in Minnesota’s grasp, the offensive exhibition was equally as stingy. Normally hyper 12th-ranked Chad Erikson was slowed down by unranked Charles Walker.
The two worked their way through a scoreless first period. Walker struck first, scoring an escape early in the second period. Tied 1-1 in the final period, Walker recorded a takedown with three seconds remaining to wrap up the win and strengthen the Cowboys for the remainder of the match.
“It won’t define who wins the national title, it just tells you where you are,” Gophers coach J Robinson said. “Are we disappointed? You bet, but I’m sure we’re not the only team.”
Third-ranked Iowa fell into the disgruntled category. After cruising through the first two rounds on Saturday, defeating Augsburg College 48-0 and downing No. 7 Central Michigan 25-9, the Hawkeyes drew their nemesis — Minnesota — in the semifinals.
And like last year’s championship match, in which a Gophers heavyweight pinned Iowa’s Wes Hand to secure an 18-17 victory, Hand’s confidence was shelled again. This time, No. 9 Brock Lesnar pinned the 2nd-ranked Hand in 2:36, helping the Gophers break down a psychological barrier.
“You wear that black and gold singlet and a lot of guys are afraid of it,” Robinson said. “The more you win, the more it dispels that mystique.”
The Hawkeyes will seek revenge against the Gophers on Jan. 30 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Minnesota has two home dual meets before that, with Michigan on Friday night and No. 18 Michigan State on Sunday.