Gophers take care of business in season’s first duals

All wins arenâÄôt equal. Yes, the 9th-ranked Minnesota wrestling team recorded a pair of victories over the weekend. But one wasnâÄôt quite as satisfying for head coach J Robinson . After the Gophers 26-12 win over Arizona State in Tempe on Friday night , the atmosphere was less than ecstatic. âÄúDown at Arizona State we were kind of flat,âÄù Robinson said. âÄúBut we just talked about some things that they needed to do and I think they responded really well.âÄù How well? How about a never-in-doubt 30-6 drubbing of Michigan State at home Sunday? ThatâÄôs the kind of performance Robinson was looking for. The Gophers actually had the meet statistically won by the time redshirt freshman Sonny Yohn topped Nick Palmieri 6-3 in the 184-pound bout, the third to last match of the afternoon. On Friday, however, the third to last match didnâÄôt put Minnesota out of reach of Arizona State. In fact, it did nothing more than put the Gophers in the lead. Minnesota and the Sun Devils were knotted at 12 when sophomore Ben Berhow took the mat to battle Imanibom Etukeren in the heavyweight bout. The 18th-ranked Berhow emerged with a 15-5 major decision, the Gophers emerged with a four point lead, and they didnâÄôt look back. Redshirt freshman Zach Sanders, ranked No. 7 at 125, followed BerhowâÄôs lead with a major decision of his own and secured a Minnesota win, meaning junior Jayson NessâÄô win by forfeit at 133 did little more than add to the GophersâÄô margin of victory. The forfeit was actually a bit of an inconvenience for Ness; it meant he missed his last chance for a touch up before taking on the SpartansâÄô top-ranked Franklin Gomez. Plus, his most recent memory was a pair of losses at the National Duals, only his second and third of the year. But two-time All-American that he is, Ness didnâÄôt let the recent struggles or the unexpected day off affect him in the slightest. In SundayâÄôs marquee matchup, the 6th-ranked Ness knocked off the unbeaten Gomez with a 6-5 decision that put the 2,571 fans at the Sports Pavilion in raptures. Maybe the brief Arizona vacation was just what he needed. âÄúIt threw things off a little bit,âÄù Ness said of not wrestling on Friday. âÄúBut still, you have to be ready for [anything].âÄù He clearly was. So were his teammates. NessâÄô upset win came on the heels of SandersâÄô 13th consecutive victory, a 15-5 major decision over Eric Olanowski. Despite battling what Robinson called a stomach flu for the majority of the weekend, Sanders piled on takedown after takedown in the third period against a clearly fatigued Olanowski. âÄúI could sense him getting a little tired so I just kept attacking, trying to get that major decision,âÄù Sanders said. âÄúIt finally came.âÄù Sanders is now 27-1 on the season and has established himself as one of the best wrestlers in the country at 125. Success has come quickly for the redshirt freshman, but Robinson said that doesnâÄôt surprise him. âÄúZach is the kind of guy thatâÄôs totally immersed in wrestling. ThatâÄôs his focus,âÄù he said. âÄúAnytime you get anybody that focuses on what they really want to do and thatâÄôs what they spend their life doing, they usually have pretty good success.âÄù Though he was talking about Sanders, Robinson could have been referring to anyone that wrestled for him Sunday. Not to be outdone, redshirt sophomore Mike Thorn followed NessâÄô and SandersâÄô performances by pinning Collin Dozier and staking MinnesotaâÄôs heavier weights a 13-0 lead. The Gophers dropped their next two matches, but swept the Spartans after the intermission. Adding an exclamation point were Gordon Bierschenk and Berhow, who recorded major decisions at 197 and 285, respectively.