Comeback falls short as Hawkeyes hang on

Minnesota lost Sunday in Iowa but beat Michigan on Friday.

Comeback falls short as Hawkeyes hang on

Image by Erin Westover

by Drew Claussen

The Gophers wrestling team found itself in an unfamiliar place twice this weekend, trailing at the break to both Michigan on Friday and Iowa on Sunday.

Minnesota (8-3, 5-1 Big Ten) came back to defeat the Wolverines 23-15 but fell short to the Hawkeyes 17-19 on Sunday.

The Gophers lost four of the first five matches against No. 6 Iowa on Sunday.

âÄúThere was some great effort from individuals but we didnâÄôt win,âÄù head coach J Robinson said. âÄúYou come to win, and you need to put that all together. It pretty much went down the way that we thought it would go down; we thought it would be decided in the middle [weights].âÄù

First-ranked Zach Sanders (125 pounds) lost his first match of the season at the hands of No. 2 Matt McDonough, 1-7. Sanders has never beaten McDonough, and he is 0-5 against him in the last two seasons.

Chris Dardanes (133), Nick Dardanes (141) and Alec Ortiz (157) also lost during the first half of SundayâÄôs dual.

Dylan Ness (149) got a major decision victory for the Gophers and the team trailed 4-13 at the intermission.

Minnesota fared better in the second half and won four out of the five matches. However, the HawkeyesâÄô Mike EvansâÄô pin of Cody Yohn (165) was a critical loss for the Gophers. Yohn looked to be dazed after going down early in the first and never seemed the same throughout the match.

âÄúThe trainer said that it bothered him, that he wasnâÄôt the same guy,âÄù Robinson said. âÄúRight off the bat he got hit in the head, he got clocked pretty hard.âÄù

The Gophers won the final four matches of the dual but were unable to erase the deficit the pin created.

Minnesota faced a similar situation Friday at the Sports Pavilion when it trailed Michigan at the break.

Logan Storley (174) trailed 3-4 in his match, and the Gophers trailed 7-15 in the dual. With less than five seconds left in the match, Storley scored a takedown to take a 5-4 lead. His opponent Justin Zeerip received a point for riding time and the match went to overtime.

âÄúLogan Storley wrestled a great match,âÄù Robinson said. âÄú[He had] great intensity and the ability to do something at the end.âÄù

Seconds into the overtime, Storley scored a takedown to win the match. Storley threw his hands in the air, and the smaller-than-average crowd of more than 2,000 erupted. The win sparked a four-match comeback for the Gophers.

âÄúWhen youâÄôre that tired and you get that takedown that seals the match for you, itâÄôs awesome, thereâÄôs nothing else like it,âÄù Storley said.

Kevin Steinhaus (184) won by major decision and Sonny Yohn (197) won by injury after Max Huntley suffered a possible concussion. Tony Nelson (heavyweight) capped off the comeback with a 3-2 win to close out the dual.

The comeback was necessary because Minnesota got off to a rough start Friday, losing three in a row after winning its first two matches.

âÄúThe beauty of it is we found a way to win, thatâÄôs the positive side,âÄù Robinson said. âÄúThe negative side is we werenâÄôt doing what we needed to do to win.âÄù

Sanders picked up a 19-9 major decision victory to open the dual, and Chris Dardanes followed suit and won a hard-fought 5-1 match against Zac Stevens.

Seth Lange (141) then got pinned by No. 1 Kellen Russell. Ness and Ortiz then both lost decisions in their respective matches.

At the break the Gophers trailed 7-12. The team looked for a comeback using its upper-weights. Minnesota was favored in four of the final five matches.

Cody Yohn lost the first match after the break before Storley ignited the GophersâÄô comeback.

The team spent longer than usual in the locker room following the match and Robinson said he expressed his displeasure with their performance.

âÄúI told them, you know a lot of the times when you win you just figure everythingâÄôs alright,âÄù Robinson said. âÄúWell, everythingâÄôs not alright; weâÄôve got things that we have to fix them quickly.âÄù