Relaxed Gophers take care of business in North Dakota

Minnesota rallied from behind to beat North Dakota State at the Bison Quad.

Dane Mizutani

Minnesota assistant coach Brandon Eggum described his team’s approach this weekend as relaxed.

It didn’t show on the mat.

The Gophers faced their toughest test yet at the Bison Quad in Fargo, N.D., but still dominated, sweeping their three opponents.

Minnesota head coach J Robinson became the winningest coach in program history with the sweep. Robinson passed former head coach Wally Johnson — who finished his career with 392 wins — and improved his record to 394-129-4 in 27 seasons with the team.

Minnesota beat Eastern Michigan, North Dakota State and Itasca Community College and controlled the tournament for the most part.

“It was a good weekend,” Eggum said. “We lost a couple close ones that we’d like to have back, but overall there were some good things.

“It wasn’t a perfect weekend for us, but it wasn’t bad.”

Minnesota started with a 36-4 win over Eastern Michigan. Its only loss came at 133 pounds.

Chris Dardanes, who normally competes at 133 for the Gophers, didn’t compete because he was sick with the flu. Eggum said a few guys on the team had the flu this week, and the sickness might have been passed around. He said Dardanes won’t be out for long.

Jordan Kingsley filled in at 133 pounds and lost 12-2.

The Gophers struggled in the next skirmish with NDSU.

Minnesota trailed for the first time this season after the host Bison won four of the first six bouts. Then the team’s upper weights seemed to flip a switch and rolled through the final four contests for the 22-12 win.

Logan Storley (174 pounds), Kevin Steinhaus (184) and Scott Schiller (197) earned major decisions, and heavyweight Tony Nelson capped the tussle with NDSU with a 5-1 win.

David Thorn lost 4-3 at 125 pounds on a final-second escape by sixth-ranked Trent Sprenkle. But Eggum said Thorn was the better wrestler.

“He didn’t give himself enough opportunities to win the match,” Eggum said. “[Sprenkle] is a good kid, so it wasn’t like that was a match we didn’t think Thorn would have to battle in.”

Eggum said it was a slight disappointment to lose matches at 125, 133, 157 and 165 pounds because his wrestlers had the talent to win. He said it’s nice the team can lean on its upper weights to close out tight matches.

“It’s always a nice cushion to have … and it is nice to know that we are going to finish strong all the time,” Eggum said.

Minnesota finished strong in the final scuffle of the weekend slate with a 39-0 shellacking of Itasca Community College. The Gophers used four pins and one technical fall in the win.

Itasca forfeited three weight classes — 125, 197 and heavyweight.

The Gophers could have added an extra 18 points to the team total, but they forfeited as well.

“We didn’t want to run the score up on them,” Eggum said.

Steinhaus and Nick Dardanes were the only two wrestlers to post a 3-0 record over the weekend. Both accomplished the feat with two major decisions and one pin.

Eggum said the dual with Itasca was about getting in extra matches against a lesser opponent.

He said that overall the weekend was a success, but “sometimes it’s easier to get up for certain matches” and this weekend had more of a relaxed feel.

“I don’t think it was a big weekend that our guys were super excited about,” Eggum said. “We knew we had three duals, and the guys needed to go out and take care of business.”