Grapplers best Spartans 22-14 in lackadaisical meet

Brian Stensaas

Suspended from Saturday’s match for a minor NCAA violation, Minnesota wrestling coach J Robinson was no where to be found as his team opened the Big Ten dual season against No. 15 Michigan State.

He didn’t miss much.

In what was for the most part a sleeper of a meet, the fifth-ranked Gophers used what little intensity there was in the Sports Pavilion to send the Spartans home with a 22-14 loss.

“It kind of drags the crowd down when you have guys not wrestling well,” said assistant coach Marty Morgan, who stepped in for Robinson. “It’s not so much the fact that some guys lost, it’s that they were pushed around.”

Not all was a snooze fest, however.

While referee Bill Rothe was forced to call double stalling five times in the meet, top-ranked Ryan Lewis got the crowd going with his 12-1 major decision over Shane Martin at 133 pounds.

The victory gave Minnesota a 4-3 team score lead, one the Gophers wouldn’t give up, though they came close.

After Derek Phillips won his Minnesota debut match over Eric Keith at 141, Tommy Owen was beaten by Spartans 149-pounder Karl Nadolsky a match later. Nadolsky particularly dominated the third period where he recorded an escape and three takedowns en route to a 14-4 major decision win.

Owen was filling in for normal 149-pounder Jared Lawrence who was resting a sore shoulder.

Luke Becker got Minnesota back on the winning track at 157 as the No. 1 wrestler earned a 7-3 win over No. 6 Gray Maynard. Becker produced Minnesota’s most exciting moment of the evening as he nearly pinned Maynard in the second period on a nifty reversal.

Fourth-ranked Jacob Volkmann essentially won the match for Minnesota at 165. The junior was awarded a six-point disqualification win after Michigan State’s Arsen Aleksanyan was terminated in the third period for too many stall warnings.

Wrestling at 184, Minnesota freshman Matt Nagel – who is listed at 157 and weighed in at 168 – earned a 5-1 decision over Jeff Clemens. It was Nagel’s first win at 184 after going 0-4 at last weekend’s National Duals.

“Giving up so much weight, the only thing you can do is go out there and wear the guy down,” Nagel said. “I’m still adjusting; I can’t be out there doing my usual moves. I have to out-slick guys now.”

Though the team won its Big Ten opener for the fifth-straight season, the days of Gophers’ squads taking it to other teams with authority are over. Closer, more intense duals are in store now. And the intense part is still yet to be discovered for some wrestlers.

“We’ve had so many guns the last few years,” Becker said. “People look at it as bad when we’re not completely killing teams. But this type of match is what we have to expect now. I’d like to crush everybody, but we have to roll with the punches a little bit first.”

Hahn ineligible

Joining Lawrence on the bench Saturday was 197-pounder Damion Hahn.

Hahn, who moved up to 197 from 184 earlier this year after coming back from off-season knee surgery, is contesting a grade change and is currently ineligible. Morgan said he hoped the situation would be resolved by the end of the week.