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Gophers have bounce-back weekend with two victories

Minnesota outscored its opponents 65-21 on the weekend.
A referee gestures a point scored at the Maturi Pavilion on Sunday Jan. 26. The Gophers lost 21-13 to the Buckeyes.
Image by Parker Johnson
A referee gestures a point scored at the Maturi Pavilion on Sunday Jan. 26. The Gophers lost 21-13 to the Buckeyes.

After the the Gophers’ wrestling team dropped their second straight dual to Ohio State, sophomore heavyweight Gable Steveson said the following week would be a “good bounce back” as they prepped for a quick turnaround in Indiana. 

He was right. Minnesota earned two landslide victories over the weekend to get to 9-5 on the season. 

On Friday, the Gophers dominated Purdue, notching a 27-12 dual victory, despite dropping two of the first three matches. Trailing 7-5 early, 184-pound Owen Webster started a three-match win streak with an 8-6 decision over Max Lyon. At 197, Garrett Joles continued to build momentum for the Gophers with another win in a 6-3 decision. Minnesota jumped ahead 11-7 with Steveson up next, who had no trouble with his ranked contest. He landed 12 takedowns in the match en route to a 25-10 technical fall over No. 25 Thomas Penola. 

Leading 16-7, 125-pound Patrick McKee jumped out to a 5-2 lead on No. 6 Devin Schroder, putting himself in position to pick up a big upset, but twisted his knee in the second, completely changing the dynamic of the match. Limping the rest of the way, McKee could only prevent the pin. Schroder took a 20-5 technical fall win, putting Purdue back within reach, trailing only by four.

“[Patrick McKee] gets the opportunity on Friday against the No. 6 ranked guy in the nation, and he’s really dominating the match, up two plus riding time,” said head coach Brandon Eggum. “It looked like a definite win and maybe even a major decision over the No. 6 guy in the country and that would have been really exciting, to see him get injured like that is tough.” 

From there, the Gophers won out their final three matches, including a debut victory at 133 pounds from Boo Dryden, a technical fall victory for Mitch McKee and a sudden victory win from Brayton Lee. 

Sunday was a pin fest for the Gophers. Minnesota secured four pins in its 38-9 blowout dual victory over Indiana. All four pins came in the first six matches. In the second match, 165-pound Bailee O’Reilly notched the Gophers’ first fall win, getting the pin in the second period after a strong first where he landed two takedowns. Redshirt senior Devin Skatzka followed O’Reilly’s pin with a quick technical fall win, leading into three straight Gophers’ pins. After Steveson’s pin less than a minute into his match, Minnesota clinched the dual leading 32-0. Steveson has three pins on the season, all three coming in the first period. 

“To put more points on the board is always a great feeling to me. I feel like that’s what I did this week and a lot of other guys on the team did too,” Steveson said. 

The Gophers took a forfeit at 125 pounds with Patrick McKee’s injury on Friday, giving Indiana their first six points of the dual. There’s no timetable yet for his return, according to Eggum.

Indiana picked up another win at 133 pounds. In a tightly contested match, Indiana’s Cayden Rooks landed a takedown in sudden victory to notch a 5-3 decision over Dryden. Giving Mitch McKee a rest at 141 pounds, Ben Brancale made his first dual start in 716 days and made the most of it. He took an 8-5 decision over Eddie Bolivar as the Gophers dominance continued. 

“Ben Brancale is one of our seniors who’s done an amazing job for us, just a great person and one of our captains,” Eggum said. 

At 149 pounds, Lee closed out the dual with a ranked win over No. 20 Graham Rooks. 

The Gophers return to the mat on Sunday, Feb. 9 in a much anticipated dual against Penn State. 

“We’re doing great right now, we just need to keep pushing forward,” Steveson said. “It’s a long season, we have a good month left and we just need to make sure we get that good month right.” 

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