Gophers wrestling place fourth in Cliff Keen Invitational in Vegas

Brett Pfarr and Jake Short won the only titles for Minnesota.

Gophers wrestler Jake Short competes in the wrestling teams home opener at the Sports Pavilion on Nov. 19, 2016, where the Gophers beat South Dakota State University.

Maddy Fox

Gophers wrestler Jake Short competes in the wrestling team’s home opener at the Sports Pavilion on Nov. 19, 2016, where the Gophers beat South Dakota State University.

Mike Hendrickson

Minnesota and 34 other teams competed in the Cliff Keen Invitational in Las Vegas Friday and Saturday, and the Gophers placed fourth overall.

Redshirt senior Brett Pfarr at 197 and redshirt junior Jake Short at 157 were the two title winners for the Gophers.

The fourth-place finish comes a week after No. 10 Minnesota lost 34-3 to No. 1 Oklahoma State.

“I thought the team … had some good improvements over the last couple of weeks,” said interim head coach Brandon Eggum. “It was great to see the guys compete well again this weekend.”

Pfarr continued a great start to his final season for the Gophers.

The No. 2 ranked senior won all five of his matches with bonus points defeating No. 3 Jared Haught of Virginia Tech 14-1 in the 197-title match.

He also defeated No. 12 Kollin Moore 15-7 earlier in the day and is the only Gophers wrestler who is still undefeated.

“He can dominate in all positions,” Eggum said. “He can shoot. He can score. He can beat them on top. He’s better on bottom, so he’s a tough guy to compete against.”

Short was the other title winner for the Gophers.

He defeated No. 10 Colin Heffernan of Central Michigan at 157 in a close 3-2 win.

Short’s title comes after he didn’t compete in the Gophers’ last dual against Oklahoma State.

Earlier in the week Eggum said he wanted to give Carson Brolsma a chance to wrestle and said Short wasn’t wrestling like himself in previous competitions.

Short rebounded well, winning all five of his matches.

“I was pissed off. I had anger. I was mad — not at anyone on the staff but the way I was competing,” Short said. “I put those emotions into my training and then from there brought it to the competition.”

Besides Pfarr and Short, three other Minnesota wrestlers placed in the Invitational.

No. 8 redshirt senior Michael Kroells placed third at heavyweight, freshman Mitch McKee placed fourth at 133 and redshirt junior Nick Wanzek placed eighth at 174.

McKee grabbed his first career win over a ranked opponent Saturday, defeating No. 16 Anthony Tutolo of Kent State 3-0 but lost to No. 18 Mark Grey of Cornell 2-0 in the third-place match.

As a first-year wrestler for the Gophers, he said there were some things he could get away with in high school that he can’t anymore.

“On bottom, I just need to get to my feet and fight hands,” McKee said. “The past couple duals I’ve been flat-footed. It really helped me in a few matches to keep my feet moving and my hands also.”

No. 5 Ohio State won the Cliff Keen Invitational with 118.5 points. Wisconsin placed second with 113.5 points, and No. 7 Virginia Tech had 103 points.

Minnesota finished third on Friday but fell to fourth on Saturday with 100 points, total.

“There’s individuals that I know could do better and probably had higher hopes of finishing stronger,” Eggum said.