Minnesota wins dual meet at Northern Iowa, improve to 5-0 on year

David McCoy

Minnesota’s wrestling team went to Northern Iowa on Friday expecting to put a “thumping” on the Panthers, 165-pounder Matt Nagel said.

No. 4 Nagel had to eat his words when 11th-ranked Nick Baima upset him with a 6-3 win.

But the rest of the Gophers made sure Nagel’s premonition became a reality.

No. 5 Minnesota (5-0) won eight of 10 individual matches against Northern Iowa on Friday, leading to a 31-6 win and its best start since the 2001-2002 season.

“Our effort our guys are putting on the mat has been good,” assistant coach Joe Russell said. “They’re starting to believe in themselves and have confidence. And believing in yourself and having confidence is a huge thing in any sport.”

Nagel said he allowed Baima to dictate the match too much.

“First period, I was able to get in on his legs pretty easy and I should have just kept doing that,” Nagel said. “Instead, I tried to ride him out more and he took me out of my match. I wrestled his match instead.”

Minnesota’s only other loss in the meet was at 141 pounds, where Manuel Rivera was beaten by C.J. Ettelson 19-16.

But Rivera impressed his teammates and coaches alike with a strong showing of character in the loss.

Rivera trailed Ettelson 12-0 after two periods, but then Rivera rattled off seven takedowns and a near fall to fall just short of a comeback win.

“He lost, but he wrestled an awesome match there,” heavyweight Cole Konrad said. “He was struggling, but he came back in the third and he never gave up. That kid could barely stand afterwards, and that sets a statement right there.”

After Nagel’s opening match loss, Minnesota strung together six straight wins as No. 14 Gabe Dretsch beat No. 12 Alex Dolly 8-4 at 174 pounds, No. 6 Roger Kish beat Dan Dunning 8-4 at 184, Mitch Kuhlman beat Andrew Anderson 4-2 at 197, No. 2 Konrad pinned Tyler Rhodes with 2:56 left, Andrew Domingues beat Seth Wright 10-6 at 133 and No. 3 Mack Reiter beat No. 19 Chris Hegelson 16-1 with a technical fall with 6:24 left.

After Rivera’s loss, the Schlatter brothers finished off the meet with a pair of solid wins.

True freshman Dustin Schlatter destroyed Colby Geotsch 18-1 with a technical fall with 5:36 left at 149 pounds and No. 8 C.P. Schlatter beat No. 18 Chris Bitetto 3-2.

Out of those wins, Kuhlman’s win at 197 was especially notable. Although the Gophers lost 197-pound starter Matt Koz just before the start of the season because of personal reasons, Kuhlman has risen to the occasion and is now 3-0 this season.

Kuhlman wrestled the first two tournaments of the season at the 174-pound weight class.

“He’s been doing good,” Russell said. “He’s gaining a lot of confidence, and confidence goes a long way. He’s starting to get some offense, which he struggled with early in his career here, and to see him taking shots and stuff like that has been very positive. The more confident he gets the better he’s going to be.”

And as Russell said, so will the rest of the Gophers.