Not many teams go without the services of four All-Americans and take home five titles against the best teams in the nation.
But for the Minnesota wrestling team, it’s just another day on the mat.
The Gophers put together another impressive outing in last week’s Kaufman-Brand Open and they’ll try to ride the momentum heading into this weekend’s Northeast Duals in Albany, N.Y.
It’s the first dual tournament of the season for Minnesota, which will continue to be without the services of senior Cole Konrad (HWT) and junior Mack Reiter (133).
Assistant coach Brandon Eggum said last week’s open tournament, in which the Gophers competed without sophomore Dustin Schlatter (149) and junior Roger Kish (184), gave the team confidence heading into the New York tournament.
“They really made a big statement against some of the best,” Eggum said. “Other teams take notice of that. Ö I think it gives us a bit of an intimidation factor.”
Minnesota will have the intimidation factor along with two of its top performers in the east coast meet, and will try to settle into roles.
Junior Justin Bronson (197) said the team is beginning to gel.
“I think we’re ready for the weekend,” he said. “We got some new faces, but the expectations are the same.”
Bronson added that the loss of Konrad and Reiter early could be a positive for the team.
The junior said the losses will force everyone else to wrestle that much harder.
“With those guys out, we know we just have to score more points,” he said. “If we can build our confidence up in their absence, when they come back, it’s just that much more steam to get us rolling.”
The dual meet will be the first at the collegiate level for many of the Gopher freshmen.
Eggum said although the younger wrestlers on the team typically get more time to develop before stepping into big meets, they have adjusted well and are wrestling strong.
“They’re wrestling the style that we want them to,” he said. “We’re throwing them into the fire a bit and so far they’ve responded.”
Junior Jeremy Larson (165) said the dual meets are a departure from the unattached tournaments the freshman have seen the first two weekends.
“(The duals) have a different feel to them,” he said. “It will definitely be a valuable experience for some of our younger guys.”
Defending national champion and top-ranked Dustin Schlatter (149) defeated second-ranked Matt Storniolo of Oklahoma Monday night at the National Wrestling Coaches Association’s All-Star Classic in Dallas.
The event pitted the nation’s two best wrestlers in each weight class against each other.
Junior Roger Kish lost his decision in the 184-match 10-2 to top-ranked Jake Herbert of Northwestern.