Wrestlers defeat Wisconsin, Illinois

Anthony Maggio

It took 133-pound Ryan Lewis two minutes and four seconds on Friday night to personify the dominance he and the rest of the defending national champion Minnesota wrestling squad has shown all season against tough opponents.

With 56 seconds remaining in the first period of Lewis’ match against fourth-ranked Kevin Black, top-ranked Lewis pinned the Wisconsin grappler.

“Lewis is just building on what he’s been doing all year which is great,” coach J Robinson said. “It’s just really positive.”

The rest of Robinson’s team is also building on its success, as the Gophers extended their winning streak to 32 dual meets by defeating the 16th ranked Badgers 40-4 and 13th ranked Illinois 27-6 over the weekend.

Lewis’ match on Friday was the first of the dual with Wisconsin (10-10, 2-5 Big Ten) and got the ball rolling for the Gophers.

Trent Hatlevig followed Lewis by dropping a major decision at 141-pounds, but it turned out to be Minnesota’s only loss of the evening.

The Badgers forfeited at 149 and 197 pounds, and third-ranked Luke Becker pinned Chris Borchardt at 157 pounds in just 1:34 to score six points for the Gophers. Becker’s pin was his team leading 10th of the season.

“They’re wrestling really well right now,” Wisconsin coach Barry Davis said. “They did the little things they had to do and made them count.

“If they keep that pace up they have a good chance of (repeating as national champions).”

Although the victory wasn’t of the same magnitude of Minnesota’s other border battle with Iowa two weeks ago, it was still big in the minds of the Gophers.

“I think any time you beat Wisconsin there’s that rivalry,” Robinson said. “It hasn’t been all that long since we were on the receiving end from Wisconsin.”

The momentum from Friday’s triumph carried over to Sundays meet with Illinois (11-3, 4-2), but the Illini supplied a couple of hurdles in the Gophers victory path.

After Becker started the meet with a win, third-ranked Matt Lackey of Illinois held off unranked Nate Baker 9-3 in the 165 pound match.

Eighth-ranked Jacob Volkmann followed with a decision at 174 pounds for Minnesota, but the Illini’s 15th ranked Jason Potter upset fourth-ranked Damion Hahn in the 184-pound bout.

Hahn’s match had the 2,372 in attendance at Williams Arena
booing the officials on multiple occasions.

Potter could have been called for stalling many times during the match, but the officials let it slide.

“It just pissed me off,” Hahn said. “I think the refs should’ve taken a little more control of the match than they did, but it happens.”

After Hahn’s questionable loss, the score was tied at six, but 197-pound Owen Elzen shutout Tyrone Byrd 11-0 to put the Gophers ahead for good.

In the heavyweight match, fifth-ranked Garrett Lowney upset Illinois’ third-ranked John Lockhart in double overtime 2-1 by scoring an escape in four seconds. Lowney was able to choose the down position after winning the coin flip before double overtime.

“I hate losing, and I hate winning by the coin flip,” Lowney said. “But I’d rather win than lose.”

The match was also important from a Big Ten tournament standpoint.

“The winner of that match is probably going to be on the opposite side of (top-ranked Steve) Mocco (of Iowa),” Robinson said. “So that puts Lockhart and Mocco in the semis instead of Lowney and Mocco.”

Minnesota swept the remaining four matches to cap off another dominating weekend.

“Everyone wrestled smart matches and wrestled well,” Lowney said. “I think we just keep on rolling as a team.”

Anthony Maggio covers wrestling and welcomes comments at [email protected]