Season to close at home with title chance

No. 4 Minnesota will face No. 7 Nebraska for a shot at the Big Ten title.

Senior Sonny Yohn wrestles Michigan's Max Huntley during Jan. 27 dual at the Sports Pavilion.

Erin Westover, Daily File Photo

Senior Sonny Yohn wrestles Michigan’s Max Huntley during Jan. 27 dual at the Sports Pavilion.

Drew Claussen


When the Gophers face Nebraska Sunday at the Sports Pavilion, the team will likely be wrestling for at least a share of the Big TenâÄôs regular season title.

Minnesota (9-3, 6-1 Big Ten) has only one conference dual remaining and currently sits alone atop the conference standings.

Nebraska and Penn State are tied for second with a 5-1 record, but each has two duals this weekend. WhatâÄôs interesting is that Nebraska and Penn State wrestle each other on Friday, meaning that both teams cannot lose both matches.

Confusing, right?

Penn State has won every dual since losing to Minnesota in November and also took first place at the Southern Scuffle in early January. ItâÄôs likely that the No. 2 Nittany Lions defeat Nebraska on Friday and Michigan on Sunday âÄî meaning that the Gophers would be wrestling for a share of the Big Ten crown Sunday.

The Big Ten is a very top-heavy conference with eight of its 12 teams in the top-25 so this weekendâÄôs matches are far from predictable.

Minnesota is coming off a two-point road defeat to rival Iowa. The loss left a bitter taste in the wrestlersâÄô mouths, said seniors Zach Sanders (125 pounds) and Sonny Yohn (197).

âÄúAgainst Iowa, again [like Michigan], a tough team with close matches,âÄù Sanders said. âÄúWeâÄôve got to win those close matches if we want to win the dual meet âÄî itâÄôs that simple.âÄù

Yohn said that the teamâÄôs morale is still high despite its loss and the fact it needed a comeback to beat Michigan.

âÄúWeâÄôre a way better team than that; we could have shut [Michigan] out,âÄù Yohn said. âÄúOn Sunday, it just didnâÄôt go our way. We didnâÄôt wrestle to our potential âÄî thatâÄôs all there is, we didnâÄôt get the job done.âÄù

SundayâÄôs dual will feature five matches between two individually-ranked opponents, and the Huskers are favored in three of those five matches.

Yohn and Sanders, the only seniors in the GophersâÄô lineup, will face unranked opponents on senior day.

âÄúIâÄôm looking forward to that,âÄù Yohn said. âÄúItâÄôs going to be nice to get back out there and compete again. ItâÄôs hard to wait a whole week to compete after a loss like [Iowa].âÄù

Kevin Steinhaus, ranked seventh at 184 pounds, will face No. 8 Josh Ihnen in the dayâÄôs premier matchup.

Other interesting matchups are No. 7 Chris Dardanes (133) versus No. 18 Ridge Kiley; No. 11 Nick Dardanes (141) versus No. 5 Jake Sueflohn and No. 4 Tony Nelson (heavyweight) versus No. 9 Tucker Lane.

Cody Yohn, ranked No. 15 at 165 pounds, will face No. 6 Robert Kokesh. Yohn has lost five of his last seven matches, twice by fall, including last Sunday when IowaâÄôs Mike Evans pinned him.

The six points Iowa received from the pin made the GophersâÄô comeback much more difficult, and Minnesota lost by two points.

Even with his brotherâÄôs struggles and the teamâÄôs loss to Iowa, Sonny Yohn said there is no question the Gophers are an elite team.

âÄúI have no doubt that when it comes to Big Tens and Nationals that weâÄôre going to be the team on top,âÄù Yohn said. âÄúItâÄôs embarrassing to lose to [Iowa], but itâÄôs over, and weâÄôve got to move on.âÄù

Storley to be honored

True freshman Logan Storley will be honored before SundayâÄôs dual with the 2011 Junior Hodge Trophy. The award is given to the nationâÄôs top high school wrestler by Win Magazine.

Storley went 42-1 during his senior season at Webster High School in Roslyn, S.D.