Minn. dominated in matchup of top-5 teams

The Gophers won three of the first four matches but lost the last six.

Austin Cumblad

A pair of anticipated debuts took on entirely different forms Friday night in Stillwater, Okla. Redshirt freshman Mario MasonâÄô s collegiate debut went as planned. In his first official match for the Gophers, Mason, already ranked ninth at 149 pounds, recorded a 13-9 decision over Oklahoma StateâÄôs Quinten Fuentes. Two matches later, top-ranked Dustin Schlatter , returning to MinnesotaâÄôs lineup for the first time since March 2008 after redshirting a season ago , had his senior season debut ruined by No. 17 Alex Meade in a 3-2 loss. It was a dual that started promisingly for the No. 5 Gophers (1-1) but quickly deteriorated as the third-ranked Cowboys (2-0-1) rattled off six-straight victories to close the evening and win 21-8. âÄúIt was, in a word, disappointing,âÄù head assistant coach Joe Russell said. This after sophomore Zach Sanders (125) and senior Jayson Ness (133), as they so often do, staked Minnesota an early lead with respective decisions of 11-5 and 3-0. Neither forfeited a takedown, fourth-ranked Sanders easily defeated No. 8 Chris Notte and second-ranked Ness rode and escaped his way to a decision over No. 11 Jordan Oliver . âÄúThey always set a good tone for your team,âÄù Russell said. âÄúAfter the first two matches, we were feeling pretty good about where we were.âÄù But the Gophers quickly went from strong to shaky. At 141, No. 4 Mike Thorn was upended by No. 5 Jamal Parks , 4-1. In the heated match, Thorn was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, resulting in a point for Parks. After the third period, both received unsportsmanlike penalties, and both teams were docked a point. âÄúI knew heâÄôd be fired up for it and that he was going to wrestle real hard for us for seven minutes, and thatâÄôs great and important,âÄù Russell said. âÄúBut I think that keeping a little better control of his emotions would have been a better option.âÄù MasonâÄôs win at 149 was MinnesotaâÄôs last. If he was feeling any pressure, he didnâÄôt admit it and wrestled like a man used to the spotlight âÄî which he is after attending the prestigious Blair Academy in New Jersey, winning four state championships. âÄúIâÄôm used to big matches and having a little bit of pressure,âÄù Mason said, âÄúbut itâÄôs still awesome to come out for the team and wrestle well.âÄù After Mason, sophomore Joe Grygelko was shut out 7-0 in the 157-pound match, not exactly a surprise against seventh-ranked Neil Erisman . Instead, it was MeadeâÄôs upset of Schlatter that surprised and sealed the GophersâÄô fate. An early takedown and a late escape gave Meade a 1-point victory and leveled the team score. What followed were four-straight Oklahoma State wins to transform a nail-biter into a blowout. Even heavyweight Ben BerhowâÄôs chance for a bit of Minnesota redemption via an upset of No. 2 Jared Rosholt came up just short in the final bout of the night. After ending regulation tied 6-6, Rosholt scored a takedown in the sudden victory period for his 100th career victory. âÄúI went out there expecting to win, but the guy is tough to score on,âÄù the eighth-ranked Berhow said. This was BerhowâÄôs second of three-straight top-tier matchups. He lost to Cal State BakersfieldâÄôs fourth-ranked Mitch Monteiro on Nov. 28 and will face current No. 7 Tucker Lane of Nebraska on Thursday.