Strong wrestling trio leads Minnesota

Brett Pfarr, Tommy Thorn and Michael Kroells have a total duals record of 43-8.

Minnesota wrestlers, left to right, Michael Kroells, Tommy Thorn and Brett Pfarr pose for a portrait together before their practice in the Bierman Field Athletic Building on Tuesday. The trio have a combined duals record of 43-8.

Liam James Doyle

Minnesota wrestlers, left to right, Michael Kroells, Tommy Thorn and Brett Pfarr pose for a portrait together before their practice in the Bierman Field Athletic Building on Tuesday. The trio have a combined duals record of 43-8.

Jack White

The Gophers are ranked No. 18 in the country, and the team has three wrestlers to thank for that.
 
 
Redshirt freshman Tommy Thorn, and redshirt juniors Brett Pfarr and Michael Kroells are a combined 43-8 in duals this season.
 
 
“I think one of the things they do is they play to their strengths,” head coach J Robinson said. “They wrestle where they’re good, and they make their opponents wrestle where they’re good. I think some of the other guys are trying to learn that lesson.”
 
 
Thorn is in his first year starting and is ranked No. 6 in the 141-pound weight class. When Thorn competed in open meets as a freshman, he was 32-5 overall. 
 
 
“My redshirt year was very helpful,” Thorn said. “I wrestled [teammates] Nick [Dardanes] and Chris Dardanes a ton, and they helped get me prepared for this year.”
 
 
Kroells and Pfarr are captains and start at the two heaviest weight classes. Kroells is ranked No. 9 in the heavyweight class, while Pfarr is ranked No. 3 at 197 pounds.
 
 
The two warm up for each meet by wrestling each other since no other heavyweights travel with the team. 
 
 
“It’s kind of a brotherhood,” Robinson said. “They live together, they’re best friends [and] they hang out together.”
 
 
Kroells also started for the Gophers last year and has improved his second this season from 27-17 to 26-6.
 
 
As a captain, he said he’s helped mentor Thorn this season.
 
 
“A lot of times he’s such a talented wrestler that I don’t even know how much I have to offer technically to him,” Kroells said. “Sometimes I mention [tips] to him watching some of his matches if he does something maybe that’s [in that situation] not so smart.”
 
 
Pfarr is a returning starter and has an undefeated dual record this season after moving up a weight class.
 
 
Kroells was an All-American last season, and Thorn will have a chance to join them this season and become Minnesota’s fifth All-American at 141 pounds in team history.
 
 
The trio will have to continue to wrestle well for Minnesota, as the rest of the team has struggled with consistency. The Gophers are 42-77 in dual meets in the other seven weight classes this season.
 
 
“Before you wrestle, you look at who’s going to win. Who can we count on to make sure we win this dual meet?” Robinson said. “Kroells is 
going to win. Pfarr is going to win. Thorn is going to win. So we got three wins. I think that helps the other guys pick up the pace and say, ‘Hey, somebody else has to step up this time; a couple guys have to step up this time,’ and that makes guys want to be the guy that steps up to win.”