Gophers have three chances to rebound from close loss

by Derek Wetmore

The No. 3 Gophers have three chances to rebound from a narrow loss to No. 2 Oklahoma State this weekend, and none pose as big a problem. The Gophers (3-1) will square off at No. 15 Nebraska on Thursday, the final scheduled dual between the two before the Cornhuskers join the Big Ten next year. The team will then fly to California to face Cal State Bakersfield and Cal State Fullerton, both unranked, on Saturday. Their motivation for the trip to the West Coast is twofold. âÄúI think for Cal State wrestling, as well as some other California sports, theyâÄôre in danger of getting cut,âÄù captain Mike Thorn said. âÄúJust going out there as the No. 3 team should help bring in some fans and help their programs out.âÄù Both programs were nearly cut last year but stayed alive as varsity sports after fundraising drives. âÄúWeâÄôre going out to help them with their fundraising efforts to make sure they can keep their program,âÄù Russell said. âÄúItâÄôs important to us that wrestling continues out on the West Coast.âÄù Along with attracting fans and media attention, Jayson Ness and Dustin Schlatter will also put on clinics for kids, donating the proceeds to those schoolsâÄô programs. But the dual against Nebraska will be the true challenge, especially on the heels of SundayâÄôs loss. âÄúThe quick turnaround can be a problem,âÄù Russell said. âÄúYou kind of have to force the guys to get their enthusiasm up, but I donâÄôt think itâÄôll be a problem for us.âÄù Cody Yohn will have a particularly tough turnaround, facing NebraskaâÄôs Jordan Burroughs, the No. 2 wrestler at 165 pounds, after upsetting No. 7 Dallas Bailey on Sunday. âÄúIâÄôm glad to see Cody isnâÄôt backing down from that challenge just because he has two consecutive hard battles,âÄù Russell said. âÄúI can see the gleam in his eye because I think heâÄôs ready for the challenge.âÄù Though Nebraska has yet to join the Big Ten, the Cornhuskers are as close to a conference team as any nonconference opponent the Gophers wrestle. Since head coach J Robinson has been with the program, Nebraska has been on the schedule every year and has become somewhat of a natural geographic rivalry. The team will travel with 13 wrestlers this weekend and will have multiple wrestlers at three weights: Ben Berhow and Tony Nelson at heavyweight; Alec Ortiz and Pat Smith at 157 pounds; and Thane Antczak and Bart Reiter at 133. For wrestlers who arenâÄôt competing with the team this weekend, there is an open meet at St. Cloud State to get work in. ItâÄôs not a team-sponsored meet, so Russell said anyone who can afford it academically and financially will compete unattached.