Nebraska might not give U’s Hartung challenge he wants

Allison Younge

Since Gophers junior wrestler Tim Hartung took the mat for his first match this season, a trend has developed. Thirteen out of Hartung’s 16 matches have been completed before the allotted seconds ticked off the clock.
Winning by pin has gradually become a routine for Hartung, who said an increase in confidence led to his series of dominating matches this season.
“I think the biggest thing is attitude,” Hartung said. “Last year, I wasn’t sure that I could go out there and pin guys, and now this year I know I can — so that’s what I’m going after.”
Hartung captured a Big Ten title last season, and proved himself among the best 190-pounders in the country. He was also named an All-American after placing third at the NCAA Championships in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
Early this week, a national caliber battle was brewing. With Nebraska on deck, Hartung eagerly awaited his bout with the Cornhuskers’ two-time All-American Ryan Tobin at 190 pounds.
“I’m looking forward to getting my first test of the year and seeing where I’m at,” Hartung said. “I’m confident that if I keep the pressure on him at all times, I’ll come out on top.”
Hartung, ranked second at 190 pounds, was set to put his undefeated record on the line against third-ranked Tobin. But Nebraska’s coach Tim Neumann said that Tobin would not compete in the Husker’s match against Minnesota. If Friday’s match were a TV movie, it could be billed as a deadly game of cat and mouse.
“Ryan is huge for the weight,” Neumann said. “To cut him down every single week all year long would make him weak and vulnerable to injury by the end of the season.”
Last weekend, Tobin competed at 190 pounds for the first time this season in a dual meet against North Carolina and at the Great Plains Invitational Tournament.
Tobin wrestled at heavyweight during the first part of the season, but he dropped 30 pounds to make the 190-pound requirement. Neumann said that because of the taxing weight cut — which is still nearly 20 pounds — Tobin will be withheld from Nebraska’s match against Minnesota.
“This was a really hard decision for us because Timmy Hartung is a great 190 pounder and that would be a classic matchup,” Neumann said.
Hartung is not the only Gophers wrestler expected to be denied a top-ranked bout tonight at the Sports Pavilion. Neumann went on to say that because of injury and circumstance, only six of Nebraska’s starters will wrestle at Minnesota.
“You’re not going to see it Friday night, but we’ve got a really great team,” Neumann said.
Along with Tobin, Husker’s All-American Temour Terry (ranked No. 4 at 158 pounds) is also expected to sit out of the match, after suffering a shoulder injury last weekend. A Nebraska forfeit at 167 pounds is also anticipated.
During the week, a potential marquee matchup of second-ranked Minnesota against tenth-ranked Nebraska turned into an anticipated blowout.
While it remains to be seen whether Nebraska’s lineup will endure further alteration before the actual match occurs, Minnesota’s preparation hasn’t changed. Hartung said he’s ready for Tobin no matter what has been said.
“Sometimes a coach might say that to get your guard down or something,” Hartung said. “I’m preparing that he’s going to wrestle, and if he doesn’t we’ll go from there.”
It’s this type of determined mind set that has brought Hartung national wrestling recognition. Gophers assistant coach Marty Morgan (one of Hartung’s workout partners) said that persistence is one of Hartung’s greatest advantages on the mat.
“He’s one of those type of wrestlers that never let you go,” Morgan said. “He’s constantly pressuring you, shoving and pulling and he makes you wrestle for a full seven minutes.”
Unless, of course, Hartung doesn’t need that much time.
While Hartung may have to wait until the NCAA Tournament to meet Tobin at center-circle, he is willing to risk his undefeated record and No. 2 rank if the end result is improvement.
“Anytime you can face tough competition, it’s only going to make you better in the end,” Hartung said. “If you consciously try to stay away from it, it’s going to hurt you.”

Note: Minnesota moved from third to second in the National Wrestling Coaches Association Team Rankings. Oklahoma State holds the top position while Iowa, Michigan and Arizona State round out the nation’s top five.
Ten Gophers wrestlers were ranked in the top five in the Big Ten Conference Wrestling Coaches poll. Senior Jason Davids (142 pounds) and juniors Chad Kraft (150 pounds) and Josh Holiday (158 pounds) are all ranked No. 1 at their respective weights.
Davids was also selected as Big Ten Athlete of the Month for December. The No. 1 wrestler in the nation at 142 pounds, Davids has a 19-0 overall record with 12 pins.