Unattatched once more, Gophers face stiff competition in Nebraska

Minnesota wrestlers crammed into cars and hotels again this weekend as they wrestled unattached at the Nebraska-Omaha Open on Saturday. This was the final time this season that each member of the team wrestled individually and apart from the University of Minnesota. Still, Minnesota wrestlers made the trip together, stayed in the same hotel, and were side-by-side all weekend. âÄúItâÄôs kind of a big step in our team coming together,âÄù redshirt freshman Zach Sanders said. Sanders knows all about the unity and relationships within the team. âÄúItâÄôs not really just when we go on trips and stuff, but we hang out all the time on campus,âÄù Sanders said. Even though no one was sporting the maroon and gold, it was clear they were a team. âÄúEveryone knows youâÄôre wrestling for the Gophers, and itâÄôs important that we make a statement early in the season,âÄù sophomore Ben Berhow said. Also known as the Kaufman-Brand Open , this tournament provided some challenges to Minnesota wrestlers that they didnâÄôt see at the Bison Open last weekend. âÄúThis is a big step up from our first week of competition, so it was good to see our guys in a tougher tournament. I think the guys performed well, and we can learn a lot from it. And thatâÄôs kind of the key, right now, is trying to learn what worked and what didnâÄôt work for you,âÄù assistant head coach Joe Russell said. Most of the team knows where there can be areas of improvement as the regular team season approaches, including Berhow. Berhow finished runner up in the 285-pound Elite class. âÄúWe made some good improvements this week, but we understand we have to make more as the season progresses,âÄù Berhow said. Each Gopher wrestled individually through an exhausting day of intense competition. Wrestlers, depending on how far they advanced, had anywhere from four to seven matches over the 12-hour day. But Minnesota wrestlers were there for each other the whole day. âÄúIt seemed like the guys stuck together when we were warming up. Throughout the whole day, we didnâÄôt really talk to anyone. We just sat in a corner with each other and concentrated on wrestling. ThatâÄôs a long day to just be concentrated on wrestling,âÄù Sanders said. Through it all, there were some big bright spots for the Gophers. Sanders was champion of the 125-pound Elite class, defeating higher-ranked opponent Michael Martinez of Wyoming. Also defeating a highly ranked opponent was sophomore Mike Thorn, who defeated All-American Cody Cleveland of Tennessee-Chattanooga to win the 141 Elite class championship. âÄúMike wrestled outrageous. HeâÄôs doing great. HeâÄôs worked very hard over the last couple of months, here,âÄù Berhow said. âÄúThose guys, it hasnâÄôt come by chance. TheyâÄôve really, really worked hard.âÄù