Wrestlers lose to Cowboys, beat Badgers

Allison Younge

All-America duo Jason Davids and Chad Kraft rallied for back-to-back technical falls Sunday to lead the No. 3-ranked Gophers to a 28-9 domination of Big Ten rival Wisconsin at Williams Arena.
Both teams forfeited the match at 118 pounds because of an ankle injury to Minnesota’s Brandon Paulson and the Badgers’ inability to make the weight.
Wisconsin then stepped out to a 6-0 lead following two decision wins at 126 and 134 pounds. At this point, the Gophers (12-4, 2-1 in the Big Ten) reversed their fortunes and took control.
Davids, ranked No. 2 at 142 pounds, fired up the fans by putting the Gophers on the board in a commanding 24-9 win over Wisconsin’s Dusty Coufal.
Immediately after Davids’ victory, Kraft took over at 150 pounds. Wisconsin’s Zach Anderson was tentative, and Kraft took advantage of every opportunity to attack and score, producing a 21-6 victory.
“I just wanted to come back home, wrestle hard and take another step,” Kraft said of the team’s two previous losses against No. 1 Oklahoma State and No. 2 Iowa. “After two hard losses, we needed to get back on the winning track”.
After Kraft’s and Davids’ five-point wins, the Gophers claimed a 10-6 lead. Davids and Kraft set the tone for a Badger blowout.
With the Gophers leading 13-9, undefeated standout Tim Hartung (ranked No. 3 at 190 pounds), took command of Wisconsin’s Steve Alf. Hartung (22-0) dominated the first period, recording a take down and two near falls. The Durand, Wis., native continued his intensity in the second period and pinned Alf after 6:47.
“It feels good to get a pin,” Hartung said. “I felt like I wanted to prove something to these guys, coming from my home state.”
Josh Holiday (158 pounds) and Brandon Eggum (177 pounds) also claimed victories for the Gophers. Both Holiday and Eggum suffered minor knee sprains during their matches, but managed wins regardless.
The upset of the day came in the 167-pound match. In the third period, with the pressure building, Wisconsin’s fifth-ranked Kevin Wilmot held a 3-2 lead over Minnesota’s No. 3-ranked Zac Taylor. During the final 30 seconds, Wilmot scored a take down, securing a 5-2 win.
“It came down to one take down. Zac was in it, but he’s got to be able to finish,” Gophers coach J Robinson said. “He’s seeing where he is now, and he has a lot of time to make up the difference and progress.”
Wisconsin’s Matt Schneider surrendered the heavyweight match to Shelton Benjamin because of injury. Benjamin captured three final points for Minnesota.
Sunday’s win over Wisconsin marked the Gophers’ second dual meet of the weekend. On Friday night, Minnesota traveled to Stillwater, Okla., to face the top-ranked Cowboys.
Oklahoma State, which has ranked wrestlers at every weight class except heavyweight, convincingly proved its raking by downing the Gophers, 26-10.
Oklahoma State took advantage of Minnesota’s forfeit at 118 pounds, and rallied two major decision victories at 126 and 134 pounds to jump out to an early 14-0 lead.
“Forfeiting at 118 pounds takes away the momentum of the whole match,” Gophers assistant coach Marty Morgan said.
Davids put the Gophers on the board in the 142-pound match with a 7-3 win over Scott Reyna (ranked No. 4 at 142).
Following Davids’ strong performance, Kraft defeated No. 9 Jimmy Arias 3-2. The Gophers’ win at 150 pounds cut the Cowboys’ lead to eight.
This was as close as Minnesota would come to breaking Oklahoma State’s perfect 16-0 record. The Gophers lost three straight decisions at 158, 167 and 177 pounds, widening the gap to 23-6.
After sitting out last week’s match against Iowa, Tim Hartung (190 pounds) returned to the Gophers lineup against Oklahoma State. Hartung dominated No. 10-ranked Aaron Strobel, recording a major decision with a score of 10-1.
Benjamin lost 5-3 in overtime to fellow heavyweight, Ben Lee, to finish the meet, 26-10.
“I think that we took the loss at Oklahoma State well,” Morgan said. “They are a top contender, but we will be right in the mix with them at nationals.”