Grapplers cruise to 33-10 win over Hofstra

Anthony Maggio

It wasn’t a second-straight home shutout for the defending national champions, but Minnesota continued its domination this season with a 33-10 victory over Hofstra on Thursday – pushing its record to 3-0.

The Gophers secured their team lead in the fifth match and won eight of 10 matches overall, losing one by forfeit.

“I was happy with the way they wrestled,” coach J Robinson said. “They wrestled hard, they were aggressive, they wrestled to the edge and put the pressure on the guys right from the start.”

The Gophers came out fast, with 125-pound Leroy Vega posting an 11-2 major decision over ninth-ranked Tom Noto.

But Ryan Lewis, the reigning Big Ten wrestler of the week, forfeited his match at 133 pounds due to a pulled groin, giving Hofstra a 6-4 lead. The injury will likely keep Lewis sidelined this weekend as well.

The Pride then widened the gap with Jon Masa earning a major decision over backup Trent Hatlevig at 141 pounds.

Chad Erikson, the usual starter at 141, sat out in preparation for this weekend’s matchup with third-ranked Sean Gray of Virginia Tech.

From then on, the rest of Minnesota’s regulars went to work.

Jared Lawrence and Luke Becker each scored major decisions in the next two matches, 17-5 and 16-5, respectively.

Then came the premiere match of the evening.

John Hardy, ranked sixth at 165 pounds, faced ninth-ranked Noel Thompson.

Thompson was ahead near the end of the opening period, but Hardy took control and pinned Thompson with three seconds left in the first period.

The Gophers kept the pressure on, putting the meet out of Hofstra’s reach.

Jacob Volkmann and Damion Hahn posted major decisions, while Owen Elzen and Garrett Lowney finished off the match scoring decisions.

Despite not losing a match by more than two points at Oklahoma State last weekend, the Gophers were pleased with the improvement they showed.

“We had some guys that didn’t wrestle the way they wanted to last week,” Becker said. “They came out and wrestled real good tonight. It was a step up for us.”

Minnesota once again showed its endurance, outscoring the Pride in the second period 43-14 and 27-9 in the third period.

“We’re in way better shape than most of the people we wrestle,” Vega said. “We just go out there, stay aggressive and stay in their face and they end up breaking.”

This weekend, the Gophers’ conditioning will get another test, as they wrestle Virginia Tech on Saturday afternoon, followed in the evening by a meet with James Madison.

“Two meets in one day is a little bit harder,” Becker said. “But we train hard enough that it shouldn’t be too bad.”

Virginia Tech boasts two ranked grapplers, Gray at 141 pounds, and ninth-ranked Scott Justus at 184 pounds.

On Sunday the Gophers travel to Washington, D.C., for a trip to the White House and a possible meeting with President George W. Bush.

Anthony Maggio covers wrestling and welcomes comments at [email protected]