Grapplers whip D-II Mankato

by Sarah Mitchell

Gophers freshman Chad Erikson is steadily developing into one of the nation’s top wrestlers at the 141-pound weight class. With a 16-5 decision over Minnesota State senior Travis Shives on Thursday, the No. 11-ranked Erikson improved to 11-2 in his first season.
“I’m starting to feel like I’m at the point where I can go out there and wrestle hard for seven minutes,” Erikson said.
As a senior ranked fifth in Division-II, Shives has proven himself at that level. But a much more inexperienced Erikson nearly recorded his sixth pin in the waning seconds of the first period. The period-ending buzzer was Shives’ saving grace.
Two Shives bloody-noses later, a raring-to-go Erikson walked off the mat with a resounding victory.
“I’m kind of hyper on the mat,” Erikson said. “I get a little bit emotional sometimes.”
Led by Erikson’s four-point gainer, junior Delaney Berger’s first pin of the season and freshman Leroy Vega’s first collegiate dual-meet pin, No. 2 (in Division I) Minnesota defeated Division II opponent 45-0 on the road. The Gophers climbed to 2-1 overall, as the seventh-ranked Mavericks fell to 0-1.
“If you look at who got out there and scrapped, it was our upperclassmen,” Minnesota State coach Jim Makovsky said. “We’ve got some underclassmen in the lower weights and they just weren’t scrappy.”
One scrappy upperclassman was senior Troy Szydel. At 149 pounds, Szydel is ranked No. 1 in Division II and is the Mavericks’ lone national champion.
In taking the next step, Szydel faced Gophers senior Troy Marr. Despite a 6-3 loss, Szydel, who said he expects to win every match, ran over to shake the hand of Gophers coach J Robinson.
“(Szydel) is a dangerous guy,” Minnesota assistant coach Mark Schwab said. “But Marr just wrestled very smart and very basic.”
Unlike Szydel, Minnesota’s lone national champion from last season added a tally to the win column. All-American Tim Hartung, wrestling at 197 pounds, remained perfect on the season at 11-0 while claiming his team-leading seventh pin of the season. Mavericks Senior Chad Kranz was Hartung’s victim, falling halfway through the first period.
Hartung’s pin helped him in his hunt for a school record. Hartung now owns 36 career pins and ranks fourth on Minnesota’s all-time list. Former Gopher Billy Pierce is No. 1 with 51 pins.
“I kind of came down here with the idea of doing that,” said Hartung of 50th career dual-meet victory.
Minnesota’s season continues Dec. 13 with two west coast dual meets. The team has an early-afternoon match-up at Oregon State before putting on a late show against Portland State.
“It’s kind of a vacation,” Hartung said. “It’s our Christmas trip in a way.”