Veterans shine as Gophers take first at Mat Town

Aaron Blake

With most of the attention focused on the progress of a heralded redshirt freshman class, Minnesota’s wrestling team’s more experienced grapplers made the most of the team’s final predual-season tournament Saturday at the Mat Town USA Invitational in Lock Haven, Pa.

Senior Bobbe Lowe, junior Matt Nagel and sophomore Cole Konrad all won individual titles, joining 133-pound redshirt freshman Mack Reiter, and the Gophers took the tournament title with a team total of 154 points.

Lowe had perhaps the most impressive weekend, downing two top-10 wrestlers en route to his title.

A 2003 All-American at 125 pounds, Lowe beat Buffalo’s seventh-ranked Mark McKnight 7-4 and Indiana’s sixth-ranked Joe Dubuque 4-2 in the semifinals and finals, respectively.

“I think I’m just doing the right things at the right times,” said Lowe, who is now 13-0 on the season. “Things are just coming together for me right now.”

Assistant coach Joe Russell said Lowe was able to outpace his opponents, going at them hard for seven full minutes.

Nagel, on the other hand, cruised to the title at his new weight, 165 pounds.

The Gophers’ starter at 157 pounds last year and 184 two years ago, Nagel said he’s finally able to focus on winning matches instead of keeping his weight what it needs to be.

“It’s really become pretty comfortable for me, and I’m able to take myself to a different level,” said Nagel, who is 11-1 this season. “I can outwork my opponents.”

Konrad, the second-ranked heavyweight in the nation, rolled through his bracket as expected, defeating Indiana’s Pat DeGain 5-3 in the final.

But the redshirt freshmen got theirs too.

Besides Reiter’s title at 133 pounds, the redshirt freshmen who placed in the top seven were: Nik Lentz at 157, Gabriel Dretsch at 174, Roger Kish at 184 and Matt Koz at 197.

Kish finished second, losing 5-4 in the finals to Penn State’s sixth-ranked Eric Bradley.

At 141 pounds, sophomore Quincy Osborn finished fourth.

Osborn is battling for a starting spot with junior Tommy Owen, who got hurt early in the tournament.

Russell said 141 will continually be up in the air this season.

As for the rest of the team, Russell said it was good to see them come together in a team-format tournament and come away with a victory.

And it only gets tougher from here with defending national champion Oklahoma State coming Dec. 5 to the Sports Pavilion.

“We better be ready; we don’t have a choice,” Russell said. “It’s going to be a great measuring stick for where we’re at early in December.”