by Allison Younge

Gophers wrestling coach J Robinson announced Tuesday that a new maroon and gold banner will adorn an unspecified wall in the Bierman Field Athletic Building. It will be hung in honor of the Gophers’ first Interactive Sports Challenge Champions — the Minnesota wrestling team.
Last Saturday, aided by the unique skills of Jason Davids, Tim Hartung and Josh Holiday, the wrestling team downed the football team in the final round of an intricate obstacle course to claim first place. Since the event, the team has reveled in the title.
“We had been gearing up for this for a good three months,” Hartung said. “We set up a course in J’s backyard and have been training two to three times a day.”
All 11 men’s varsity teams were represented at the Gold Country Run Fun Fest event. CPC Event Design Group brought in an elaborate stage and disc jockeys who controlled the interactive games and worked the crowd.
Three of the most well-rounded athletes were chosen from each Gophers team. The participants were required to execute the entire course. It involved putting on a jersey, picking up a football, running through a set of tires and maneuvering around cones.
A basketball was then added to the mix. The athletes had to make a basket, take the football and run around the cones and through the tires again. The final task included pumping up a balloon until it popped and handing the jersey to the next team member in line.
“The patented wrestling-shirt exchange was the key to our success,” Hartung said.
The wrestlers’ jersey exchange was accomplished with help from the third team member. Two wrestlers exchanged by putting their heads together and arms out while the third person pulled the jersey off of the first and onto the next in line.
“If they’d have known how to dress themselves, it would’ve looked a little more civilized,” Gophers track and field senior Rick Obleman said.
The track and field trio was eliminated in the semifinal round of the games by the wrestling team, but they defended their own talents.
“They are lucky, and by no means can they run,” Obleman said. “Overall, it was a fun competition.”
The tricky part of the course for most of the teams was the shirt exchange. Gophers freshman Derek Rackley and the football players caught onto the wrestlers’ exchange tactics, but they weren’t quick enough in the finals.
“We had the advantage on the tires and the cones — we run those every day.” Rackley said. “But we weren’t as fluent as the wrestlers on the shirt exchange.”
The Gold Country Run Fun Fest Sports Challenge offered Gophers fans a final chance this season to support their favorite teams. Approximately 1,100 fans attended the day’s festivities, which included a 5K run, a kids run and the Fun Fest.
The end-of-the-year party was sponsored by the Gophers men’s athletic department. About 140 men’s athletes gathered to say thank-you to their fans by visiting, signing autographs and handing out team posters.
Until next year, the Gophers wrestling team will lay claim to the Interactive Sports Challenge Champion banner. However, rival teams are sure to return to the course next year better prepared for the day’s events. This fact, however, does not intimidate the title holders.
“Anyone — minus the hockey team — can run through tires and around cones,” Hartung said. “But it takes true athletes to conquer the rest of the course. Next year, we’ll come back as the No. 1 seed looking to repeat.”
Members of the Gophers hockey team could not be reached for comment.