Two wrestlers finish as All-Americans

The Gophers ended 17th in the NCAA, the team’s lowest place since 1996.

Brett Pfarr contends against Drake Stein of Purdue in the 197-pound weight class at the Sports Pavilion on Jan. 24.

Liam James Doyle, Daily File Photo

Brett Pfarr contends against Drake Stein of Purdue in the 197-pound weight class at the Sports Pavilion on Jan. 24.

Jack White

Minnesota placed 17th in the NCAA championships on Saturday at Madison Square Garden, the team’s lowest finish since 1996.
 
 
Redshirt junior Brett Pfarr and redshirt junior Michael Kroells were the Gophers lone All-American honorees, the lowest number for the program since 1994.
 
 
“It’s obviously not where we wanted to be. It’s not where we expected to be. It’s not where Minnesota should be,” head coach J Robinson said. “It’s one of those things to be a benchmark to know what we need to do next year.”
 
 
Pfarr finished third at 197 pounds, earning the first All-American honors of his career. He was pinned in the semifinal round but won his consolation match to advance to the third-place bout.
 
 
In his final match, he wrestled against No. 3 Nathan Burak of Iowa and earned a narrow 2-1 victory.
 
 
“It’s exciting because it’s my first All-American honor,” Pfarr said. “It’s definitely a great relief to get that finally. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s too bad we only had two All-Americans. It would have been nice to get all five guys who qualified onto the stand.”
 
 
Kroells finished in seventh place at the heavyweight class to earn All-American honors for the second time. He lost his second match by major decision but won three matches in a row the next day to secure All-American status.
 
 
He lost in his consolation quarterfinal match, which put him in the seventh-place bout against Max Wessell of Lehigh, who he lost to in his second match.
 
 
Kroells won the second match-up 5-2 to take seventh, after losing in the seventh-place match last season. 
 
 
“I wrestled a lot of good matches,” Kroells said. “I did the same thing last year, but my goal is an NCAA championship, so anything short of that I’m going to be at least a little bit disappointed.”
 
 
Redshirt freshman Tommy Thorn made his NCAA Championships debut for the Gophers and won his first match at 141 pounds. He lost his next one, though, and after winning one consolation match by major decision, he lost again and did not place.
 
 
Redshirt sophomore Nick Wanzek competed at 174 pounds and lost his first match by major decision. He won his first consolation match but lost his second to end his tournament.
 
 
The Gophers last NCAA competitor, redshirt sophomore Jake Short, lost both his matches in the tournament at 149 pounds.
 
 
“We want to come back [next year]. We want to win the national tournament, which nobody is going to bet on it,” Robinson said.