Despite losses, Lawrence and Becker four-time All-Americans

Brian Stensaas

BKANSAS CITY, Mo. Before television cameras could get to him following his semifinal win over third-seeded Jesse Jantzen of Harvard on Friday night at Kemper Arena, Minnesota 149-pound senior Jared Lawrence made a point to give his big brother Brett an All-American hug.

Likewise, moments after losing to Arizona State’s Eric Larkin in the finals Saturday night, Brett was right there in the locker room to console his younger brother.

“It hurts him just as much as it hurts me,” Jared said. “That’s love for ya, I guess.”

Regardless of his loss in the finals, Lawrence and fellow senior Luke Becker (157) became just the second and third four-time All-Americans in Minnesota history, thanks to their performances in this year’s NCAA championships.

Becker also lost his final match as a Minnesota wrestler, succumbing to a pin in the third-place bout.

The two join Chad Kraft, who wrestled for Minnesota from 1996-99, as the program’s only four-time All-Americans.

Despite neither seniors’ returning as NCAA champions in their respective weight class, both leave the Minnesota wrestling room as two of the most decorated wrestlers in the history of the program.

Roommates and best friends, Lawrence and Becker swallowed their losses and took a moment to reflect as the tournament wore down Saturday.

“I didn’t exactly finish out how I wanted to,” Becker said. “But looking back, there’s been some amazing people here that have helped me do something I’ll remember for a long, long time.”

Added Lawrence: “I can’t even comprehend all the memories I have here. I’ve wrestled hard for five years. If anything, I can take away that I never snaked anything out. I always wrestled hard.”

While nothing is set in stone, both plan to continue their wrestling careers outside the University. They could follow in the tracks of former Gophers such as Tim Hartung and Brandon Eggum by training with the Gophers on campus.

Ryan Lewis University?

Though he lost for the second straight year to Oklahoma State’s Johnny Thompson in the 133-pound finals, Minnesota’s Ryan Lewis did some serious damage in this year’s NCAA wrestling tournament.

Lewis, thanks to three pins and a major decision, earned 23 team points for the Gophers. That alone would have put Lewis in 24th place in the team race, tied with Edinboro. The Scots entered the tournament with eight qualifiers.

Lowney injured again

Gophers heavyweight Garrett Lowney, donning a Minnesota singlet for the final time over the weekend, pulled out of the tournament Friday because of a knee injury.

Though no official diagnosis had been completed, the 2001 Big Ten champion said team trainers believed his right knee sustained a sprained lateral cruciate ligament.

“I couldn’t do anything out there,” Lowney said after defaulting his match with Oklahoma State’s Willie Gruenwald. “I was hoping that maybe adrenaline would take over, but that didn’t happen.”

Only a junior eligibility-wise, Lowney, 23, will graduate in May and concentrate on making the 2004 Olympic team. He won a Greco-Roman Olympic bronze medal in 2000.

Mocco nearly DQed

Heavyweight champion Steve Mocco of Iowa was nearly disqualified from the tournament less than a minute into his first bout.

After receiving a bye in the first round, Mocco locked horns with Iowa State’s Scott Coleman in the second round. With 2:02 remaining in the first period, Mocco was called for an illegal hold. Coleman’s shoulder was injured as a result of the illegal move.

Iowa State coach Bobby Douglas could have elected to take the victory by disqualification, thus knocking the undefeated Mocco out of the tournament. Instead, Douglas put Coleman back on the mat for one second then chose default by injury.

“I don’t think taking (Mocco) out like that is good for the sport,” Douglas said. “It just wouldn’t have been the right thing to do. Steve is a bear. He’s a good wrestler on his way to being a great one. I didn’t want him to lose like that and Coleman didn’t want to win like that.”

Brian Stensaas covers wrestling and welcomes comments at [email protected]