Grapplers sweep Big Ten competition at home

Brian Stensaas

Minnesota heavyweight Garrett Lowney did all he could to hold back a smirk as his right arm was raised signaling victory Sunday afternoon at the Sports Pavilion.

All eyes on him, the junior spent more energy changing out of his warmup uniform than he did earning six team points against Northwestern by simply walking out to the center of the mat and taking the forfeit win.

Turns out the points were all Minnesota needed.

In dominating fashion, the third-ranked Gophers thwarted the Wildcats 41-3, a change from the close 22-12 win over No. 8 Michigan on Friday evening.

“Momentum-wise, the guys are getting what they need,” assistant coach Mark Schwab said. “These duals are important to win because they’re stepping stones along the way. Now we need to ride this through to the end of the season.”

With Iowa’s loss to Michigan State on Friday night, the Gophers are now the only team unbeaten in conference competition.

Minnesota (15-4, 5-0 Big Ten) has won six-straight dual meets and earned bonus points in seven of eight wrestled wins against Northwestern (5-9, 0-5).

Gophers’ 133-pounder Ryan Lewis and 149-pounder Jared Lawrence each recorded pins against the Wildcats. Up 10-0 in the second period against Jon Ott, thanks in part to five near-fall points in the match, top-ranked Lewis finally matted Ott at 4:24 sending the 1,888 fans to their feet.

Two matches later, second-ranked Lawrence used only 2:36 to pin Josh Ballard.

By all intents and purposes, the match was over.

“It’s big for the team score but it gives the other guys a spark too,” Lewis said of the pins. He leads the team with nine on the season. “It makes it easier for the next guy to come out. It lets everyone know how tough we wrestle.”

Tough was an understatement Sunday as Minnesota went seven matches without allowing a takedown while branching out to a commanding 31-0 lead.

Casey Flaherty finally succumbed at 1:13 of his 184-pound match, taken down by Brendan Curran. Flaherty took the team’s only loss in the afternoon.

Friday night, there were a few more losses handed out by the Wolverines, but the Gophers managed to hang on for the win.

Damion Hahn (197) and Lowney got Minnesota off to a 6-0 lead after winning the night’s first two matches. After 125-pounder Bobbe Lowe lost a close 4-2 match with A.J. Grant, the Gophers rambled off four straight wins and held a 19-3 lead.

But the Wolverines (8-5, 3-1) weren’t about to back off.

Unranked Pat Owen pinned No. 5 Jacob Volkmann at 165 to cut the lead to 19-9. In the final match of the night, Willie Breyer blanked Matt Nagel 4-0 but Minnesota had enough to claim victory.

It’s still clear that the team is still not totally where it wants to be.

“We’re getting there,” Hahn said. “We’re back on the right track, but we still need to pull some things together if we want to win another national title.”

Brian Stensaas covers wrestling and

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