Gophers ninth in Big Ten

Brett Pfarr finished third in his weight class, and Michael Kroells did as well.

Michael Kroells contends against Tyler Kral of Purdue in the heavyweight weight class at the Sports Pavilion on Jan. 24, 2016.

Liam James Doyle, Daily File Photo

Michael Kroells contends against Tyler Kral of Purdue in the heavyweight weight class at the Sports Pavilion on Jan. 24, 2016.

Jack White

The Gophers earned top-three finishes in the Big Ten the last six seasons. This weekend, Minnesota took ninth.
The team finished with 51.5 points at the Big Ten Championships in Iowa City, Iowa, which wrapped on Sunday.
Redshirt junior Brett Pfarr and redshirt junior Michael Kroells, who each took third in their weight class, were the Gophers’ top finishers. Redshirt freshman Tommy Thorn took fourth in his weight class.
All three earned automatic bids to the NCAA Championships, along with redshirt sophomore Nick Wanzek.
Redshirt sophomore Jake Short still has the potential to earn an at-large bid.
“We need to get a better performance out of our guys,” head coach J Robinson said. “We need to have our guys make something happen. Even the guys who are seeded two or three or four, we need them to step up and get one or two [victories].”
Pfarr won his first two matches at 197 pounds before losing in the third round of the tournament. In the third-place match, he won 3-1 over Aaron Studebaker of Nebraska.
Kroells earned a bye in the first round of the competition and picked up an overtime victory in his first match. His second match went into overtime as well, but he was defeated in the semifinal round.
“I don’t like being in those overtime matches,” Kroells said. “I would rather be in matches that are a little bit more high scoring, a little bit more movement. Being in those situations, you’ve been there before; you know what you got to do.”
Kroells won both of his matches on Sunday in the heavyweight class, including a 4-1 victory over Billy Smith of Rutgers in the third-place match.
Thorn won his first match at 141 pounds and lost his second, but he was able to advance to the final day of competition through wrestlebacks.
He won his first match on Sunday to advance to the third-place match, but he lost on a pin to place fourth in his first Big Ten Championships.
“It was exciting,” Thorn said. “It was a great environment [at] Carver-Hawkeye arena, and every match seemed like it was just more and more important, so it was a fun experience for me.”
Wanzek had a 1-2 record on the first day at 174 pounds but still earned an opportunity to wrestle for an automatic berth on Sunday. He wonon Sunday 8-3 against Mitch Sliga of Northwestern to qualify for NCAAs.
Short won twice and lost twice on the first day at 149 pounds to advance to the seventh-place match on Sunday, which he won against Cody Burcher of Ohio State. He will have to wait and see if he is selected as one of five at-large competitors in his weight class for the NCAA field.
“We need to go back and think about some things we need to work on … and get ready for the NCAA tournament in two weeks,” Robinson said.