Gophers want to make early statement at first dual meet in Rochester

Senior Mack Reiter said showing foes a strong showing early is a definite plus.

Mark Remme

After taking the past two weekends to get acquainted with the 2007-08 season, the top-ranked Minnesota wrestling team will compete in its first dual meet Saturday in Rochester.

The Gophers take on Northern Illinois at 10 a.m., Northern Colorado at noon and North Dakota State at 2 p.m. in Rochester’s Northern Quad meet.

Minnesota is coming off a weekend where four of its top performers in four different weight classes were not available to compete. Sophomore Jayson Ness, junior Dustin Schlatter and seniors Roger Kish and Mack Reiter were all taking part in the NWCA All-Star Classic in Oregon.

But the Gophers still took home two titles, and considering the team should be at full strength this weekend, Minnesota might be looking to make its first dual statement of the year.

After all, Reiter and fellow senior Manuel Rivera have made it known the past two weeks that showing competition the strength of the team early on is a definite plus when potential meetings down the stretch might occur.

Reiter said last week that teams will remember getting dominated earlier in the year the second time a matchup occurs.

While this weekend’s showdowns might not culminate in a second meeting with any of these teams, it certainly will carry weight knowing this is the last tune up the Gophers will have before heading into stiff nonconference matches.

Minnesota will compete for the first time at home Dec. 2 against perennially difficult foe Iowa State.

They’ll follow that up with a showdown with Nebraska Dec. 6 before a radical West Coast swing to face Cal State Fullerton and Cal Poly.

Just like heading into the Kaufman-Brand Open last week, the Gophers will be keeping an eye out for who will take the lead as the top heavyweight to fill graduated NCAA champion Cole Konrad’s spot.

Assistant coach Marty Morgan said heading into last weekend’s Kaufman-Brand that redshirt freshman Joe Nord had the early advantage.

Nord proceeded to go 0-2 at the event while fellow redshirt freshman Ben Berhow went 3-2 at the open and seemed to make progress from his performance at the Bison Open the previous week.

Meanwhile, Northern Colorado is coming off winning four of 10 weight classes at the Old Chicago’s Open in Greeley, Colo., last weekend. Northern Illinois captured two titles Nov. 10 at the Cyclone Open in Ames, Iowa.Schlatter lone winner

Schlatter (149) was Minnesota’s lone winner in the 42nd Annual NWCA All-Star Classic in Eugene, Ore., on Monday.

His second straight All-Star Classic win came over Michigan’s Josh Churella – last year’s NCAA runner-up – by a 3-2 margin.

Ness (125) went head to head with defending NCAA champion Paul Donahoe of Nebraska. Despite beating Donahoe twice last year, Ness dropped a 5-2 decision Monday.

Reiter (133) faced Hofstra’s Lou Ruggirello and dropped a 6-0 decision early.

Iowa State’s Jake Varner outlasted Kish in the 185-pound class. The two are expected to meet again Dec. 2 when the Cyclones visit Williams Arena.