U wrestlers try to shake bad stretch

by Allison Younge

As the Gophers wrestling team prepares for its final weekend of competition at home, two-time All-American Jason Davids has a definite idea about how he’d like to exit center stage at the Sports Pavilion.
“I’d like to put on a show,” Davids said. “I’ve done that my whole four years here, but this year has been kind of slow. I’d like to go out with a bang.”
With 14 pins this season, Davids’ energetic reputation hasn’t been inhibited. But for the third week straight, the Gophers as a team seem to be stuck in low-gear.
The last three road matches did little to advance Minnesota’s title-winning cause. Uninspiring wins over unranked Wisconsin and Ohio State and a disappointing loss to fifth-ranked Penn State have left the Gophers without their usual competitive fire.
“We are kind of down, but it doesn’t matter now,” Davids said. “What matters is in three weeks at the Big Tens. That’s when we’ll be up, and that’s when we’ll have to be up.”
It remains to be seen whether the Gophers will be able to turn up the intensity in time for the postseason tournaments. This weekend, Big Ten rivals Michigan State and Michigan will offer the Gophers a chance to reclaim their spark in front of a home crowd.
“I think the guys realize that the intensity has been down. It’s that time of year,” Gophers assistant coach Mark Schwab said. “But I think they’re coming out of it, they’re ready to make that climb.”
The Gophers will look to continue last year’s domination of the two Michigan teams. Minnesota downed Michigan State twice last season, and Michigan once to claim the 3-0 road series. The Gophers defeated Michigan State 31-7 at this year’s National Duals tournament, but will wrestle Michigan on Saturday for the first time this season.
In addition to holding weight in the Big Ten Tournament seedings, Schwab said that these matches are important confidence boosters for the team.
“This are our last home duals. The guys want to wrestle well in front of the crowd,” Schwab said. “It will be a good way to get our feet back on the ground and hopefully have a good showing against two pretty solid wrestling teams.”
Meeting his Michigan State opponent for the second time this season, Davids is secure in his aggressive plan. He hopes it holds true throughout his final weekend of competition at home.
“He’s decent, but if I wrestle him like I did before, I’ll go out there and just annihilate him,” Davids said. “That’s what I’d love to do in front of the home crowd.”
Note: Gophers 177-pounder Brandon Eggum will not compete in the matches this weekend. Eggum sprained his knee in Minnesota’s dual against Penn State last weekend. Sophomore Delaney Berger or freshman Kenny Howard will replace Eggum in the Gophers’ 177-pound matches.