Gophers’ young grapplers find the going slow as rookies

Three of Minnesota’s redshirt freshmen are battling injuries and ineffectiveness.

Matt Anderson

Roger Kish, C.P. Schlatter, Mack Reiter and Matt Koz were supposed to be the blue-chip recruits who led Minnesota’s wrestling team back to national championship glory.

But because of injuries and inconsistency, the redshirt freshman class has a long way to go before it can even claim its first year as a success.

Kish and Schlatter each have missed significant time because of injury, and Koz has underperformed, going 12-13 at 197 pounds.

Coach J Robinson said part of the challenge for his youthful team has been consistency.

“With young people, so much it’s, ‘If I feel good, I do good, and if I feel bad, I don’t do

good,’ ” Robinson said. “I think the older guys, the (Cole) Konrads and the (Matt) Nagels, they deal with consistency Ö so it’s just a learning process for the young guys.”

Reiter is one wrestler who has outperformed expectations in his first year at 133, going 31-4, and being ranked third in his weight class.

“I know I can win an NCAA title this year,” Reiter said. “That’s what my goal is.”

While Reiter has been surprisingly successful in his first season, his classmate, Koz, has been a disappointment.

A three-time state champion in Ohio, Koz went 11-1 competing unattached in his redshirt season.

He was expected to provide punch for the Gophers,

replacing two-time national champion Damion Hahn at

197 pounds.

Instead, Koz has struggled in his first year of NCAA competition, going just 2-7 in the dual season.

It looked as if Koz had turned the corner in January, losing by just a point to eighth-ranked B.J. Padden of Nebraska, and pinning Michigan’s Willie Breyer.

But Koz is winless in three February starts and has yet to score an offensive point in any of his matches this month.

“I think it’s all in my head pretty much,” he said. “You adjust wrestlingwise, and you’ve also got to adjust mentally. I think that’s what maybe I’m lacking right now.”

Hope does still remain for the heralded class this year.

Kish, ranked sixth at 184 pounds, is expected to return for this coming weekend’s dual meets after a six-bout absence with a skin infection. Schlatter, who missed the team’s last two dual meets, is also supposed to return this weekend at 157 pounds.

“There’s a cohesiveness that comes with getting everyone back,” Robinson said. “It’s

going to bring a confidence

and a different air to the team when finally we’re all back

together.”

Owen wins 141 spot

Junior Tommy Owen beat sophomore Quincy Osborn

5-3 in a wrestle-off Monday to win the starting spot at 141 pounds for the remainder of the season.

Starting on top in the third period, Owen earned three near-fall points early in the period to give himself a comfortable 5-2 lead. Osborn and Owen had been alternating starts at 141 for the entire season.