Wrestlers head to Penn State for National Duals

Every year Major League Baseball’s season is split in half by the All-Star game.
But baseball isn’t the only sport to draw the fans’ attention to a big mid-season event; NCAA wrestling has a winter classic of sorts this weekend at Penn State.
The meet is the National Duals, and the third-ranked Gophers are riding a strong season into State College.
Minnesota (9-0, 2-0 Big Ten) has competed in the tournament — which draws some of the best teams in the country — for the past three years.
Two seasons ago the Gophers won the tournament. Last year they finished a close second when they lost to Oklahoma State 20-17 in the finals.
Minnesota will have a tough road back to the top this year. The field in Happy Valley will have 12 NWCA top-25 teams on the mats at the Bryce Jordan Center, including top-ranked Iowa State and the returning champions, the No. 4 Cowboys. The Gophers are seeded second in the tournament behind the Cyclones.
For Minnesota, this weekend is a good chance to make a statement that the Gophers are for real. Senior heavyweight Brock Lesnar — who has new found fame as a weekly quest on KFAN’s “PA and Dubay Show” — understands that.
“It’s that time of the season where we have to get focused,” Lesnar said. “There isn’t a lot of time left. This weekend is a good test for everybody as a team.”
Coach J Robinson said the team as a whole feels it’s underrated, despite the No. 3 ranking. But if all goes according to plan, the Gophers will get a shot at the top-ranked Cyclones in the finals of the tournament on Sunday to prove they are worthy of the No.1 ranking.
“We think we’re the best dual-meet team in the country,” Robinson said. “(Taking on Iowa State) is something we’re looking forward to. We want to wrestle Iowa State because we think we can beat them. They’re in the march to the NCAAs and that will get our guys fired up.”
But if Minnesota gets that chance to take on the Cyclones and aren’t able to take them out, Robinson said it won’t be the end of the world for the Gophers.
“Although it’s important to win, it’s more important that we go in there to perform,” Robinson said. “If we do what we have been doing the past two weeks we can win.
“But the key is our performance. Win, lose or draw, we need to make a statement. We have to fight and be tough.”
The toughness will start at the top, with the No. 1 Lesnar. As well as a solid team performance, Lesnar said he’s hoping for some personal success this weekend as well — he’s looking forward to taking on No. 2, Trent Hynek of Iowa State.
Big Ten’s best
Minnesota All-American Brandon Eggum was named the Big Ten wrestler of week for his performance against Ohio State and Penn State last weekend. The award is the 184-pound senior’s first.
Second-ranked Eggum has a record of 17-1 on the season (7-0 in dual meets). He has the chance to wrestle top-ranked Cael Sanderson of Iowa State if the Gophers face the Cyclones in the finals at the National Duals.

John R. Carter covers wrestling and welcomes comments at [email protected]