Patton goes from walking on to wrestling right away

The freshman has started seven dual matches so far this year at 149 pounds.

Freshman Miles Patton contends against Air Force wrestler Jerry McGinty in the 149-pound weight class matchup on Saturday at the Sports Pavilion.

Liam James Doyle

Freshman Miles Patton contends against Air Force wrestler Jerry McGinty in the 149-pound weight class matchup on Saturday at the Sports Pavilion.

Jack White

Injuries have left the Gophers starting position at 149 pounds wide open, and so far, freshman Miles 
Patton has filled the void. The freshman has struggled in duals with a 0-7 record but has wrestled well in open meets with a 3-2 record.

“Very, very rarely do we have true freshman starting, but with [redshirt sophomore] Jake Short getting hurt, we had to put somebody in there, and [Patton] has done an outstanding job,” head coach J Robinson said. “He wrestles hard, he’s competitive and he was excited about getting the opportunity. We have to put it in perspective that he is a freshman.”

The Gophers rarely have a wrestler compete without taking a redshirt first, but Patton has been an exception.

Injuries cleared a path for him to wrestle right away even though there are no guarantees for his future.

“You get an opportunity to compete,” Robinson said. “Maybe in the next three or four years there’s somebody [way] better in his weight class and he doesn’t get an opportunity. The only thing you got is here and now and you try to make the best of what you got, and that’s what Miles is trying to do.”

The Minnesota coaching staff has been working with Patton on his footwork and his defense so he can continue to compete, often against older competition.

“A lot of the guys he’s competing with are redshirt freshman or sophomores, so they’ve got a year or two years under their belt, and that’s a big deal,” Robinson said. “That’s why we redshirt people. When they come from high school, the difference is very dramatic.”

Patton said he originally wasn’t thinking about wrestling after high school, and he chose to attend the University of Minnesota strictly based on its academics. He still managed to walk on the wrestling team after being a five-time All-Conference honoree and a two-time All-State selection at Mayo High School in Rochester, Minn.

“I was really confused on whether I wanted to wrestle in college or not, and once I made that decision, I knew I wanted to go to [Minnesota],” Patton said.

After walking on, the freshman has received playing time in every dual meet this season.

Patton said he has struggled to make weight at times, but he has been working one on one with volunteer assistant coach Dustin Schlatter on his technique.

“For a guy like Miles, considering how young he is, he’s a true 
freshman, there’s kind of a steep learning curve and there’s a lot of things that we can go over and help him with,” Schlatter said. “We’ve been working a lot defensively.”

Patton made his dual debut at the Gopher Invitational. The freshman dropped all three matches.

He also lost all three of his matches at the Northeast Duals and was defeated by Jerry McGinty of Air Force on Saturday.

It hasn’t been the greatest start for Patton, but Robinson said the experience will help the freshman later in his career.

“Miles now is going to have an understanding of what he really needs to do to get better and to make that [starting] team in the future,” Robinson said.