Wrestling opens season at Bison Open tournament

The Gophers are looking at the tourney as a chance to find out where they’re at.

Bridget Haeg

After a disappointing eighth- place finish at nationals last season, Minnesota’s wrestling team opens the season Saturday armed with the artillery to improve.

Last year’s finish in the NCAA Championships in St. Louis marked the first time since 1996 that the Gophers failed to place in the top three.

The team competes at the Bison Open in Fargo, N.D., ranked seventh in the nation by the National Wrestling Coaches Association, with eight Gophers nationally ranked.

“The biggest thing is, it’s a new year,” coach J Robinson said. “We get to start all over again.”

Minnesota returns seven starters who qualified for the 2004 NCAA Championships including sophomore All-American Cole Konrad.

The Gophers also sport the nation’s top recruiting class, which mostly redshirted last season.

“We’ve got some young guys who have a different attitude,” Robinson said. “I think it’s really positive.”

Saturday’s tournament features mainly Division II and III opponents, but Robinson said the team wanted this type of season opener to gauge its ability.

“It’s not the top-of-the-line competition, but that’s what we wanted,” Robinson said. “We don’t want to throw them into the jungle right to begin with.”

Rowing heads to Seattle

Minnesota’s rowing team sends its top rowers west to Seattle this weekend, as the Gophers conclude their longest fall season in program history.

Their entrance into the Head of the Lake regatta extended their racing season by two weeks, which coach Wendy Davis said has given the team an extra focus.

“We were still making selections as to who was going to be the first eight until Saturday,” Davis said. “So it gave us an extra week of people saying, ‘Am I, or aren’t I?’ “

The team, which comes off a sweep at the Head of the Iowa on Oct. 31, expects a batch of fresh competition this weekend, including Washington, Washington State, Oregon State and Gonzaga.

A favorable finish could propel the Gophers into a top-20 spot in the preseason rankings, which would be a first for Minnesota’s program.

Though a ranking would gain them recognition, the Gophers are approaching their final race with a more general plan of attack.

“Ultimately, the rankings don’t matter toward the end of the season,” Davis said. “It’s who you beat and who didn’t you beat.”

Men’s tennis at B-Tens

If last year’s finish at the Big Ten Singles Championship was any indication of how the Gophers might fare in the future, Minnesota’s men’s tennis team can look to this year’s competition with confidence.

Former Gophers player Chris Wettengel captured the Big Ten singles title last year, with current Minnesota sophomore Brian Lipinski winning the consolation bracket.

“We would expect to keep it in the family,” assistant coach Adam Cohen said. “(But) it’s going to be a tough tournament.”

The Gophers hope to build on last year’s finish Saturday at the Madison, Wis., tournament.

This year, the Gophers send six players in the main draw, including senior Avery Ticer; sophomores Andres Osorio, D.J. Geatz, Nick Edlefsen and Brian Lipinski; and freshman Adrien Debreyne.

Sophomores Sion Wilkins and Mikey Kantar, and freshman Chi Pham will compete in the qualifying draw.

The tournament will wrap up the Gophers’ fall season.