Hartung: The leader, the follower

Allison Younge

Six years ago, Gophers 177-pound wrestler Marty Morgan capped off an undefeated 39-0 season and became coach J Robinson’s first NCAA champion. Next week at the 1997 NCAA tournament in Cedar Falls, Iowa, Robinson’s current 190-pound hopeful, Tim Hartung, will hold prime position to duplicate Morgan’s NCAA title accomplishment.
“Every match I go into, I’m going in to win,” Hartung said. “I’m planning on getting to the finals.”
Morgan, currently the Gophers’ head assistant coach, recognizes a few remarkable similarities between the Gophers lone 1997 Big Ten champion and himself.
“We wrestle almost identical,” Morgan said. “Our styles are similar. We’re both very methodical, and we don’t wrestle pretty — we just win.”
As a sophomore, Hartung lacks the experience advantage that Morgan possessed during his senior year. But no one would know Hartung’s capabilities better than his coach.
“He’s just as good as anyone in his weight class,” Morgan said. “Even though he’s a sophomore, he’s very consistent — he’s twice as good as I was my sophomore year.”
Hartung (29-1) has met success throughout the season. Besides his one loss to Michigan State’s Brian Picklo in overtime of the Gophers regular season dual meet, Hartung’s only beatings have come against Morgan in the practice room.
“He’s tough,” Hartung said. “I have a lot of trouble with him.”
Morgan still competes in Greco-Roman wrestling. He has participated in two world championships, placing second at the 1996 Olympic Trials. Many of Hartung’s similarities to Morgan have come from Morgan’s numerous coaching tips and hours of grueling practices.
In his Big Ten final bout against Picklo, Hartung won the title using a move Morgan was famous for — the single-leg takedown. In the 1991 NCAA finals, Morgan landed six single-legs to claim the title. Hartung needed only one to break the match, with a final score of 3-1 in overtime.
Morgan would like nothing more than to see Hartung claim a national title at this weeks NCAA’s, but he also looks forward to another day in Hartung’s young wrestling career — a day in the Gophers practice room.
“I know in the next couple years, it’s going to be a war between us,” Morgan said. “Someday, I hope I walk into the room, and he’s so tough that I can’t score a takedown on him.”
Hartung’s numerous battles with Morgan have produced noticeable improvement over the past year. Hartung finished sixth at last year’s Big Tens and went into the NCAA’s as an apprehensive freshman looking to break through.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Hartung said. I was really nervous and I didn’t have much confidence. I was pretty hard on myself.”
This year Hartung boldly enters the NCAAs as a Big Ten champion and tournament favorite. He is positioned among the best and expected to be seeded third at nationals. With a Big Ten title in hand, Hartung invites the chance to follow Morgan’s lead.
“He’s someone I look up to — pretty much idolize because of his work ethic,” Hartung said. “It would be great to follow anything he’s done in his wrestling career.”