Final home meet for top-ranked Minnesota

The Gophers will head to Nebraska to take on the Cornhuskers on Sunday.

Tyler Rushmeyer

The Michigan State wrestling team comes to the Sports Pavilion tonight looking to complete a near-impossible task: knock off the top-ranked team in the country.

And if that wasn’t intimidating enough, No. 1 Minnesota is on a 16-win dual-meet streak stretching back almost two months.

Sophomore Tyler Safratowich, who stormed back into the lineup last weekend with wins over two ranked opponents, said despite the Spartans’ No. 20 ranking, he is not concerned about getting knocked off.

“It seems like every dual we’ve had this year, it’s been hyped up like it’s going to be close,” he said. “And we’ve beat everybody, and we’ve beat them bad. So I’m not too worried about it.”

For the Gophers, the key might be in the lowest three weight classes, a place where both Minnesota (16-1 overall, 5-0 Big Ten) and Michigan State (3-6, 2-2) are stacked.

The Gophers will send No. 4 Jayson Ness to do battle with No. 5 Franklin Gomez at 125 pounds, presumably followed by No. 9 Mack Reiter against No. 2 Nick Simmons at 133.

Minnesota junior Manuel Rivera, ranked No. 2 at 141, will complete the marquee trifecta when he faces off against No. 4 Andy Simmons.

Rivera said the lower weight classes will be pivotal in the Gophers’ chances against the Spartans.

“It’s important to take those tough matches,” he said. “If we can, it hopefully will get the team rolling.”

Probably the big story of the night will be the final home match of senior heavyweight Cole Konrad.

Coach J Robinson said Konrad’s legacy at Minnesota will be felt for years to come, and he encouraged fans to come out to see Konrad one last time.

“People have a chance to come out and see the best wrestler in Minnesota history,” he said. “He’s a great story. A kid that had a dream, came to school here and proved he could do it.”

Seniors to be honored

Alongside Konrad, two other seniors, Juan Martinez and Danny Williams, will be honored at intermission for their contributions both on and off the mat.

Robinson said that although Martinez and Williams are not featured wrestlers within the program, they played an important role on the team throughout their time at Minnesota.

“They’ve helped a lot of our younger wrestlers develop into some of the best today,” he said. “They’re here to do anything we ask them to do, and that’s a big part of being a member of a team.”

Gophers face Nebraska

Minnesota will conclude its weekend in Lincoln, Neb. against No. 21 Nebraska on Sunday.

The Cornhuskers (7-6) bring three ranked opponents to the mat to do battle with the Gophers.

The top matchups will take place in the 125- and 141-pound weight classes where Ness will battle No. 13 Paul Donahoe, and Rivera will take No. 7 Dominick Moyer.