Nelson leads his team at Bison Open

The Gophers took home eight titles as a team at their first meet this year.

Minnesota heavyweight Tony Nelson grapples with Virginia Techs David Marone on Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, at Williams Arena.

Image by Mark Vancleave, Daily File Photo

Minnesota heavyweight Tony Nelson grapples with Virginia Tech’s David Marone on Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, at Williams Arena.

by Nate Gotlieb

The No. 3 Gophers wrestling team opened its season Saturday with eight individual titles at the Bison Open in Fargo, N.D.

Minnesota redshirt freshman Brett Pfarr won the 184-pound title, redshirt senior Tony Nelson won the heavyweight title and their teammates added six more individual titles as the Gophers won more than 75 percent of their matches.

“We’ve got a really well-rounded team,” Nelson said. “That’s why I think we walked away with eight titles.”

Minnesota was one of three Division I teams to participate in the event and dominated the mostly Divisions II and III competition.

Nelson, who went 4-0 on the day, pinned the first three wrestlers he faced and won a 2-1 decision over teammate Michael Kroells in the heavyweight final.

Gophers redshirt junior Scott Schiller also recorded three pins and won the 197-pound title. Schiller, an all-American last season, pinned a South Dakota State wrestler in the title match.

Minnesota redshirt junior Chris Dardanes went 5-0 and won the 141-pound title. Dardanes was wrestling competitively for the first time since the NCAA championships last March because of an injury.

Minnesota’s top-returning 125- through 157-pound wrestlers all moved up a class from last season, including Dardanes, who wrestled at 133 pounds last season. He said everyone is feeling good about the change.

“We’re all feeling a lot better — a lot more energetic and ready to roll,” Dardanes said.

Gophers redshirt junior Dylan Ness recorded two pins and beat teammate Brandon Kingsley for the 157-pound title.

David Thorn, Nick Dardanes and Logan Storley also won titles for the Gophers.

Minnesota will compete Saturday at the Harold Nichols Open in Ames, Iowa.

“We’ve got a really good team coming back,” Nelson said. “I’m excited to see what we can do next weekend.”