Minnesota Drops First Big Ten Dual

Minnesota lost to Ohio State 31-7

Owen Mageau

  

The No. 14 Gophers (4-2, 1-1 Big Ten) traveled to Columbus, Ohio for a dual with the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes (9-0, 4-0 Big Ten) on Friday. The Gophers came up short and dropped their first Big Ten dual of the season 31-7. Nick Wanzek at 165, and Tommy Thorn at 141 were the only gophers to earn victories in their respective matches.  

“This team that we competed against is a really, really tough team,” said head coach Brandon Eggum. “I was excited about a couple guys and overall, I really liked the fight that some of our guys had. They just went out there and weren’t focused on rankings or names; they just did their best.” 

It would have been easy for the Gophers to get distracted by their opponents’ national rankings. All ten of Ohio States starters were ranked in the top 11 of their weight classes coming into Friday’s dual. Among them were three wrestlers ranked No. 1 at their weights. 

Due to Ohio State’s high rankings, Minnesota wasn’t expected to have much success, and they didn’t. The Gophers managed to earn just two victories.  They came at 141 and 165. At 141, No. 11 Tommy Thorn knocked off No. 6 Joey McKenna in a 13-3 major decision. At 165 Minnesota got an 8-5 decision victory from No. 9 Nick Wanzek. Wanzek defeated No. 13 Te’Shawn Cambell. 

“Tommy Thorn had a really nice win, getting an upset there was great,” Eggum said. “It’s good for him, especially as you look forward down the road towards Big Ten rankings and those things. Those quality wins really mean something. He’s looking really good right now. At 165, I thought Nick Wanzek wrestled a good match too.”

Minnesota came close to earning upset victories in a couple of the other matches as well. At 197, Bobby Steveson lost No. 1 Kollin Moore in a 7-4 decision. Steve Polakowski came close as well, losing an 8-6 decision at 133. The Gophers head coach found these close results to be an encouraging sign that suggests the team is improving. 

“I know we want to win so there’s disappointment there, but at the same time I see that our guys are getting better,” said Eggum. “We lost some close ones and if we can turn those around between now and March, that’s the goal.” 

The trip to Columbus was a disappointment, but the Gophers can’t dwell on it. They need to shift their focus to a home dual against Illinois on Sunday and try to use it as an opportunity to bounce back and continue to improve. 

“Overall there were some things that got away from us no doubt,” said Eggum. “We have to get better and we feel like we’re making those steps to get there. We have another match coming up here on Sunday, the No. 13 ranked team in the county, so we get an opportunity to knock off a team that is ahead of us in the rankings. I know that’s what we are focused on.”