Minnesota perfect, wins Big Ten crown

It’s the fifth time in coach J Robinson’s career the Gophers won 20 dual meets.

Tyler Rushmeyer

What was expected to be a challenging weekend for the Minnesota wrestling team became just another three-day span of utter supremacy as the Gophers picked up a Big Ten title in the process.

Minnesota wrapped up the successful weekend by silencing over 8,000 Iowa Hawkeyes fans with a compelling 29-13 victory Sunday and making the rest of the conference very nervous as the Big Ten tournament approaches.

With the win, the Gophers (20-1) closed out the regular season on a 20 dual-meet win streak, the third longest streak in school history. They also finished a perfect 8-0 record in the conference, the first time since 2002 when Minnesota went on to win the NCAA Championship.

Junior Mack Reiter, an Iowa native, said it felt good to push around an old rival in its house.

“It’s a good message to send heading into the postseason,” he said. “Looking at our dual scores, everybody in the nation knows who the top team is.”

Redshirt freshman Jayson Ness got things rolling early in front of the traditionally hostile crowd when he picked up a 8-0 major decision over No. 5 Charlie Falck at 125 pounds, which the ninth-ranked Reiter followed up with a third-period pin at 5:38 to give the Gophers an early 10-0 advantage.

The fourth-ranked Ness said he relishes his opening role.

“It was a huge crowd tonight, probably the biggest I’ve wrestled in front of in college,” he said. “To silence them right off the bat was big.”

The Hawkeyes got their biggest boost next, albeit against a weaker opponent than many expected at 141.

Minnesota, which had given top-ranked Dustin Schlatter the night off just two days before at 149, made the decision to give No. 2 Manuel Rivera the night off instead, and his replacement, unranked freshman Mike Thorn, got pinned at 1:16 by No. 6 Alex Tsirtsis.

Gophers assistant coach Marty Morgan said both Schlatter and Rivera were dealing with minor knee injuries over the weekend.

“Both could have wrestled if we really needed them,” he said. “But it’s important to play these things safe.”

The conclusion of the first three matches saw Iowa cut the to deficit to just four points before Minnesota responded with a Dustin Schlatter decision at 149, his 59th straight victory, followed by C.P. Schlatter’s 9-4 decision at 157 to give the Gophers a comfortable 16-6 advantage at the intermission.

But Iowa wasn’t ready to pack things up at the midway point, storming back with a major decision at 165 followed by a decision at 174 to cut the Gophers’ advantage to 16-13.

A Hawkeyes upset was not to be, however, as the Gophers closed out the match with No. 2 Roger Kish’s major decision at 184, Yura Malamura’s decision at 197 and a forfeit of the heavyweight match to Cole Konrad, to give the intimidating senior his 67th straight victory.

Minnesota now heads into its off week, shifting its focus to the Big Ten tournament looming less than two weeks away.

Reiter said the comparisons to the Gophers’ national title teams of 2001 and 2002 are beginning to fly.

“We’re on a really good run, so you expect those comparisons,” he said. “We just have to follow suit.”

Gophers down Badgers

Minnesota claimed the Big Ten regular season crown Friday night in Madison, Wis., thanks to its 28-12 trouncing of border-foe Wisconsin.

With the win, the Gophers extended their dual meet victory streak to 19 while remaining perfect in the conference at 7-0.

The marquee matchup of the night occurred at 157 pounds, where No. 5 Craig Henning of the Badgers narrowly defeated No. 6 C.P. Schlatter of Minnesota after Schlatter was handed three warnings for stalling in the final period.

Top-ranked heavyweight Cole Konrad and junior Manuel Rivera, 141, extended their winning streaks to 66 and 34 matches, respectively.