Gophers pummel Hoosiers 35-6

Tony Nelson lost his third match in a row in the win against Indiana.

by Jared Christensen

In its first dual since moving back to No. 2 in the NCAA rankings, the Gophers wrestling team pounced on Indiana from the get-go in a 35-6 rout.

It was a dominant win, but it didn’t come without a speed bump — two-time defending NCAA heavyweight champion Tony Nelson dropped another match, his third loss in a row and fourth in his last six matches.

Nelson expressed respect for his opponent after the match, but said he’s looking forward to meeting him again in the Big Ten and, potentially, the NCAA tournaments.

“He’s a really good wrestler,” Nelson said. “But this doesn’t matter. The end of the year is what matters, so that’s what I have to keep working towards.”

Still, head coach J Robinson said he was satisfied with the dual overall.

“They did great,” he said. “There was a lot of great effort today.”

No. 1 197-pounder Scott Schiller and No. 9 133-pounder David Thorn led the way for Minnesota with first-round pins, and five major decisions from other wrestlers on the team widened the gap.

Schiller said he’s happy with the way things have fallen into place for him this year.

“Things are finally starting to come together,” he said. “The things I’ve been working on [the last couple of years] are really starting to shape up.”

He’s right, if “shaping up” is how one describes a perfect 24-0 season featuring eight pins to date.

Thorn refused to be outdone by his teammate. For him, Schiller’s 2:37 pin wasn’t fast enough, and he followed up with a pin at 2:26.

While Thorn’s win was impressive, it was Sam Brancale’s 15-3 major decision at 125 pounds that officially put the dual out of reach.

Brancale’s win came a week after he upset Iowa’s No. 5 Thomas Gilman with a pin just two minutes into the dual.

Robinson wasn’t quite ready to commit to Brancale as the full-time starter, though.

Not yet, at least.

Brancale has been splitting time with redshirt sophomore Jordan Kingsley this season, and neither has seen much more time on the mat than the other.

“It’s still week-to-week for [them],” Robinson said. “But as [Brancale] builds his confidence, we’ll just keep working on him.”

Outside of the heavyweight match, the only other loss for the Gophers was at 141 pounds, where redshirt junior Corey Hodowanic wrestled his first match of the year in place of No. 6 Chris Dardanes.

Dardanes has now missed three of the last four duals, with his only match coming against Iowa last week. The team cited “rest” as the reason for him missing each dual. 

Now the Gophers must move on as No. 1 Penn State comes to town Sunday. The dual sold out all 5,196 tickets last week, according to an athletics spokesperson.

Nelson said he’ll be ready for it.

“It’s Penn State,” he said. “It’s a big dual, and it’ll be a packed [Sports] Pavilion. Plus, it’s my last home dual — there will be a ton of fire there.”