Liam James Doyle
Redshirt junior Ben Morgan earned a technical fall in his debut match for Minnesota, and the Sports Pavilion responded with a standing ovation. The fall helped the Gophers take the lead a 20-15 Sunday against Purdue, and Minnesota held on to win 23-18.
“I think it was a great statement to the guys being down and coming back,” head coach J Robinson said. “I think that’s what athletics [are] about, and I think you saw the excitement in the crowd when Ben Morgan got that pin.”
Redshirt junior Brandon Kingsley started off the dual for the Gophers at 157 pounds. A reversal at the start of the third period gave him a 4-2 lead over redshirt senior Doug Welch, but Welch had a reversal of his own to tie the match 4-4. Kingsley earned an extra point for riding time to win the match.
Senior Brad Dolezal made his season debut for the Gophers in the dual, starting at 165 pounds. He lost to redshirt senior Chad Welch 4-3 after being taken down once in the first period and twice in the third.
“Brad Dolezal, who weighed in at 157, wrestled up a weight class,” Robinson said. “When he got thrown on his back, it would have been very easy for him to give up and get pinned, but what did he do? He fought his [butt] off.”
After Dolezal’s loss, a fall by redshirt freshman Will Balow put the Gophers behind 15-3.
No. 4 Brett Pfarr won his match at 197 pounds 25-11 to remain undefeated in duals and cut Minnesota’s deficit to 15-7.
No. 9 Michael Kroells added to the comeback with a major decision in his match that gave the Gophers another four points.
“I knew I just needed to keep on the guy, and after I got that first takedown [to] just stay after him, the guy broke a bit,” Kroells said.
Morgan entered the dual one match later after redshirt freshman Steve Polakowski cut the team’s deficit to one. Morgan earned his first start at 133 pounds since transferring to Minnesota last season and pinned redshirt sophomore Luke Welch for a fall in the match.
“I’ve been coming to these meets since I was a little kid, and for me to go out there my first-ever match at home was … really a dream come true,” Morgan said.
Morgan’s pin put the Gophers ahead by five, and then No. 8 Tommy Thorn won his match at 141 pounds 8-4 to make the score 23-15.
Minnesota lost the final match, but Morgan’s pin gave the team enough cushion for its second dual victory in a row.
“I think it was a dual meet of ups and downs,” Robinson said. “We didn’t have everybody we were supposed to in; we had some other guys out there.”