Wrestlers regain form with home wins

Allison Younge

After three weeks of enthusiasm hibernation, the Gophers wrestling team awoke revitalized this weekend, capturing large-margin victories over Michigan State and Michigan. The fourth-ranked Gophers downed the Spartans 39-6 on Friday, and the Wolverines 27-10 on Saturday to sweep their final home dual meet series.
“They looked great,” Gophers coach J. Robinson said. “I think they’re back on track. They had a week of good practice, they were intense and wrestled hard. Up and down the line, they were aggressive.”
Going into the 142-pound match Saturday with Michigan leading 10-0, senior Jason Davids was called upon to ignite match excitement. In a situation not uncommon to him, the two-time All-American earned a 13-4 major decision over Michigan’s Corey Grant, launching a seven-match win streak for the Gophers.
From that point, Minnesota’s intensity heightened to inferno. Seniors Zac Taylor and Shelton Benjamin capped off their final home matches by earning upset wins over their Wolverines opponents. Taylor, ranked ninth at 167 pounds, needed only one offensive drive to down Michigan’s fourth-ranked Jeff Catrabone by a score of 2-1. The Gophers’ captain scored a reversal in the first period, and fended off Catrabone’s attempts for two more periods to secure the match victory and boost Minnesota to a 14-10 lead.
Already assured a team victory going into the heavyweight match with the score 24-10, Benjamin provided the Gophers’ final exclamation point. With the score tied 1-1 with 45 seconds remaining, Benjamin landed a takedown to capture a 3-1 victory over Michigan’s second-ranked Airron Richardson.
Four other Gophers also participated in the string of domination on Saturday: juniors Chad Kraft (150 pounds), Josh Holiday (158 pounds) and Tim Hartung (190 pounds) as well as sophomore Delaney Berger (177 pounds) earned match wins for the Gophers.
Kraft upheld his No. 3 ranking by edging Michigan’s No. 4 Bill LaCure by a score of 3-1 in the 150-pound match. Hartung captured the only pin of the night (his tenth career pin) against Michigan.
While the Gophers’ veterans held attention Saturday, newcomers highlighted Friday’s match. After recently receiving the starting nod at 126 pounds in place of last year’s All-American Pat Connors, junior Bart Golyer pinned Michigan State’s sixth-ranked Pat McNamara to earn his eighth dual meet win this season.
A whirlwind of energy, Golyer caught McNamara (a Jordan, Minn., native) on his way out-of-bounds during the second period, locking him to the mat. In an instant the match was over, surprising Gophers fans, team members and even Golyer himself.
“I just praise God,” Golyer said. “I was losing that match. He took a bad shot, and I took advantage of it and got him on his back. I pulled him in as hard as I could to keep him in bounds, and the next thing I knew the ref was slapping the mat.”
A usual 167-pound replacement, Berger successfully filled in for the Gophers’ injured 177-pounder Brandon Eggum. Berger nearly pinned Michigan State’s James Brimm two times, but ended up finishing the match with a 12-1 major decision victory. Wrestling up a weight class didn’t seem to bother the confident sophomore.
“I tried to focus on what I needed to get done, instead of the weight,” Berger said. “Usually you don’t want to wrestle a muscle match with a guy like that, a bigger guy. You want to move him and get him tired. That’s what I tried to do, and he sort of fell into my hands.”
No. 11 Michigan State and No. 13 Michigan proved no contest for the intensified fourth-ranked Gophers. In the two matches, Minnesota outscored its opponents 66-16 and seem returned to its tenacious wrestling ways just in time for the post season. Minnesota (17-2, 4-2 in the Big Ten) has two conference duals remaining before the Big Ten Tournament.

Friday’s match summary
No. 4 Gophers — 39
No. 11 Michigan State — 6

118 pounds: David Morgan (MSU) pinned Brett Lawrence (Minn.) 4:16
126 pounds: Bart Golyer (Minn.) pinned Pat McNamara (MSU) 5:47
134 pounds: Troy Marr (Minn.) dec. Issac Miller (MSU) 5-4
142 pounds: Jason Davids (Minn.) tech. fall Nick Curry (MSU) 21-6, 4:57
150 pounds: Chad Kraft (Minn.) maj. dec. David Hughes (MSU) 16-5
158 pounds: Josh Holiday (Minn.) dec. Greg DeGrand (MSU) 8-2
167 pounds: Zac Taylor (Minn.) won by injury default
177 pounds: Delaney Berger (Minn.) maj. dec. James Brimm (MSU) 12-1
190 pounds: Tim Hartung (Minn.) maj. dec. Nick Muzashvili (MSU) 12-3
Heavyweight: Shelton Benjamin (Minn.) maj. dec. Matt Lamb (MSU) 15-3

Saturday’s match summary
No. 4 Gophers — 27
No. 13 Michigan — 10

118 pounds: Chris Viola (Mich.) maj. dec. Brett Lawrence (Minn.) 16-2
126 pounds: Joe Warren (Mich.) dec. Bart Golyer (Minn.) 6-2
134 pounds: Damion Logan (Mich.) dec Troy Marr (Minn.) 10-6
142 pounds: Jason Davids (Minn.) maj. dec. Corey Grant (Mich.) 13-4
150 pounds: Chad Kraft (Minn.) dec. Bill LaCure (Mich.) 3-1
158 pounds: Josh Holiday (Minn.) maj. dec. Jason Rawls (Mich.) 16-5
167 pounds: Zac Taylor (Minn.) dec. Jeff Catrabone (Mich.) 2-1
177 pounds: Delaney Berger (Minn.) maj. dec. Joe DeGain (Mich.) 14-6
190 pounds: Tim Hartung (Minn.) pinned Ryan Balcom (Mich.) 2:43
Heavyweight: Shelton Benjamin (Minn.) dec. Airron Richardson (Mich.) 3-1