Nebraska forfeits two as Gophers cruise to victory

No. 2 Minnesota lost its first two matches but won six of the final eight to get the win.

With the final seconds ticking off the clock in his match and trailing 4-3, senior Mack Reiter stood locked up with Nebraska’s Kenny Jordan. Reiter managed to flip Jordan on his back as time expired, giving him a two-point takedown and 5-4 victory.

Reiter pumped his fist and yelled, careful not to reopen the gash across his chin, which he suffered earlier in the match.

It was the turning point in the meet for the Gophers, who beat No. 12 Nebraska 25-13 Thursday night. Instead of going down 10-6, Reiter’s last-second win gave the Gophers a 9-7 lead, which they wouldn’t give back.

“I could tell he was getting really tired, so I just went for his leg,” Reiter said. “He was so tired he basically just fell over me and I got two points out of it.”

The second-ranked Gophers outscored the Cornhuskers (2-1, 0-0 Big 12) 16-6 after Reiter’s win, winning four of the final six matches.

“That was huge for them,” Nebraska head coach Mark Manning said. “Our guy was trying to win easy, and in this sport you can’t win easy. It ended up making a big difference in the meet tonight.”

The Huskers needed pins in their final two matches to salvage a tie, but Gabriel Dretsch avoided No. 5 Brandon Browne’s attempts and clinched the team win. Roger Kish finished the match with a 6-2 victory in the 184-pound division.

The most anticipated match of the night – between No. 3 Jayson Ness and No.1 Paul Donahoe of Nebraska – didn’t happen. Donahoe, the defending national champion, has been nagged by minor injuries and didn’t make the trip to Minnesota.

The forfeit gave the Gophers (3-1 overall, 0-0 Big Ten) an automatic six points, which is equal to a fall. It was essentially a gift, as Donahoe has been pinned just once in his entire career.

“That gave us a huge boost,” Gophers head coach J Robinson said. “They were up by seven, and all of a sudden they’re only up by one. It makes it really, really tough when you have to give up six points in a match like that.”

The Gophers bounced back from their loss to Iowa State on Sunday, their first in over a year. The loss broke a 23-dual-meet winning streak – the second longest in team history.

It also dropped the Gophers to No. 2 in the W.I.N. Magazine national poll after holding the No. 1 spot since January of last season.

Minnesota’s previous loss came in the 2006 season opener to unranked Hofstra. That team responded to the loss by finishing the season 20-0 and winning the national title.

Reiter said he hopes that the win will set off a similar streak for this year’s team.

“Obviously we didn’t plan it that way; we’d like to win every meet,” he said. “But last year it was a big wake-up call for us, and if the same thing happens this year, I’ll be happy.”