Gophers dominate at Bison Open

Tyler Rushmeyer

The Minnesota wrestling team opened the season in dominating fashion on Saturday, taking home eight individual titles at the 37th Bison Open.

Five wrestlers, sophomore Dustin Schlatter (149), and juniors, Manuel Rivera (141), C.P. Schlatter (157), Gabe Dretsch (174) and Roger Kish (184) all defended their titles from a year ago at the meet in Fargo, N.D.

Three freshmen also got into the title mix with Scott Glasser, making his Gophers debut, taking the 165-title and Joe Nord and Ben Berhow being named co-champions of the heavyweight division.

Rivera, who took home his title with two pins and a major decision, said the weekend was a good way to open the season for a team with high expectations.

“It was great to get out on the mat against some opponents Ö we had a pretty good showing,” he said. “I think we could’ve taken home all 10 (titles).”

Dretsch said the weekend was valuable in assessing everyone’s strengths and weaknesses early on.

“You really find out pretty quickly what your flaws are as individuals,” he said. “It gives you a chance to see what you need to improve on in the coming week. “

Dretsch added that the tournament was a confidence builder for the young wrestlers, many who turned in strong performances over the weekend.

Aside from the eight individual titles, seven Minnesota wrestlers placed in the top five in their respective weight classes.

Redshirt freshman Jayson Ness, a frontrunner for the 125- pound starting position, opened impressively, taking home second place after dropping a close 1-0 decision to Tanner Gardner of Stanford.

Jake Mellmer (133), a true freshman also making his Minnesota debut, finished third after winning his final four matches.

Rivera said Saturday’s meet served as a warm up for more Division-I competition, something Minnesota will see next week at the UNO Open in Omaha, Nebraska, where 42 teams and approximately 650 wrestlers will take to the mat.

Sophomore Tyler Safratowich, who earned a third-place finish at 157 pounds, said the weekend provided a valuable chance to get a look at where the team is at heading into next weekend’s tournament.

“We’ve trained for two months now in the same practice room,” he said. “So the weekend was a good way to get things going.”

Safratowich and Dretsch said one of the most impressive things of the weekend was the performance of the freshmen, three of which are filling in for two injured All-Americans Cole Konrad (HWT) and Mack Reiter (133).

The freshman will need to continue to perform at a high level as the top performers nurse back to health if Minnesota wants to remain on the national title road in the early parts of the season.

“We got a lot of guys that can rack up big-time points,” Safratowich said. “We just got to stay healthyÖIf we are; I don’t think there’s anybody than can beat us.”