Home stretch the toughest stretch

Minnesota wrestles No. 2 Oklahoma State and No. 4 Michigan in back-to-back duals.

David McCoy

Now the easy part’s over.

After back-to-back weekends in which coach J Robinson said his team could afford to take it easy, Minnesota’s wrestling team hits a tough stretch run starting this weekend.

The top-ranked Gophers (18-0, 6-0 Big Ten) wrestle at No. 2 Oklahoma State and at No. 4 Michigan in their next two duals before closing out the regular season at No. 18 Michigan State.

To be ready for those challenges, Robinson said, he’s putting the team on a different training regiment for the next three weeks.

Robinson didn’t care to reveal any secrets, but said the goal is to take the pressure off his wrestlers.

“It’s hard to be number one all the time because everybody’s gunning for you, so you carry that all the time,” Robinson said. “So what you’ve got to do is artificially get that pressure off of them. So there (are) some things we’re going to do this week and next week to do that, where they can kind of relax a little bit and have a little more fun and not worry so much about it.”

Streaks going and coming

When Minnesota upset then-No. 1 Oklahoma State to win National Duals on Jan. 15, the Cowboys loss snapped a 30-match winning streak.

Minnesota’s Cole Konrad’s win at heavyweight also ended two-time defending national champion Steve Mocco’s 85-match winning streak.

This time around it will be the Gophers coming into the match with winning streaks.

Minnesota will put its 18-match winning streak on the line, along with Konrad’s 29-match winning streak, 149-pounder Dustin Schlatter’s 14 straight and 184-pounder Roger Kish’s 10 in a row.

Back in the win column

After having not won since National Duals, Gabe Dretsch came away from the weekend with a pair of wins to get back on the right track.

“Last weekend I wasn’t wrestling as aggressive as I usually (am),” Dretsch said. “(This weekend) I went out there and pushed the pace out there ” I wrestled my pace ” and that usually allows me to get people more tired, then I can start picking them apart.”

Dretsch, who previously had lost four matches in a row, majored Wisconsin’s Michael Felling 14-3 Friday and took down Marc Bennett in overtime Sunday for a 10-8 win.

Dual on ESPNU

Minnesota’s showdown with Oklahoma State at 2 p.m. Sunday will be broadcast live on ESPNU.

Another Eslinger honor

Minnesota football’s senior center Greg Eslinger was named Outstanding Lineman of the Year by the Columbus, Ohio, Touchdown Club on Monday.

The award complements the Outland Trophy and Rimington Trophy, both won by Eslinger this year. He was also a consensus first-team All-American and named a unanimous first-team All-Big Ten.

Hockey to No. 1

Minnesota’s men’s hockey team jumped to No. 1 in the newest USCHO national rankings, released on Monday. It’s the first time the Gophers are ranked first since the first week of the season.

Minnesota also moved into a tie for first in the projected pairwise rankings, also released on uscho.com on Monday. The pairwise rankings are used to seed and select the 16-team NCAA Tournament.