Minnesota heads east for change of pace at Pennsylvania tourney

Matt Anderson

When Minnesota’s wrestling team heads east this weekend, the changes it will face go beyond simple geography.

The team will travel Saturday to Lock Haven, Pa., for the Mat Town Invitational and, for the first time this season, will wrestle in an event with team scoring, Eastern opponents and Eastern referees.

The last two weekends, team scoring was not tallied.

“It picks up your team intensity level,” 141-pound junior Tommy Owen said.

The tournament will also be the Gophers’ first exposure this season to Eastern wrestlers.

Maryland, North Carolina, Rider and Pittsburgh are among the schools competing in Lock Haven, and they will present Minnesota with a different wrestling style than is typically seen in Midwestern competition.

“Styles are a little different in different parts of the country,” assistant coach Joe Russell said. “On the East Coast, there’s a little more strategy involved.”

In the Midwest, wrestling tends to be more straight-ahead and aggressive than in the East.

“We learned last year at the Southern Scuffle (in Greensboro, N.C.), they hang on the edge of the mat and don’t shoot as much,” Owen said. “East Coast guys seem to get more tired.”

In addition to a different wrestling style, Eastern referees will also present a new challenge, because, Owen said, they do not call stalling as much.

The team hopes Lock Haven serves as a meaningful introduction to the East Coast style that it will see at the NCAA Tournament in March.

As the final event before the dual season begins Dec. 5, Mat Town is the last chance for wrestlers who are jockeying for starting spots to impress coaches.

Owen, who is fighting for a starting spot at 141 pounds after qualifying for the NCAA Tournament and a 27-15 record last year said he feels little pressure after having success so far this season.

“If I go out there and wrestle hard, everything should fall into place,” he said. “If I carry myself as a starter, it helps.”

Russell concurred.

“Wins and losses, they can’t control,” Russell said. “Effort, they can.”

Homecoming for Koz

For Strongsville, Ohio, native Matt Koz, the Mat Town Invitational is a rare opportunity to wrestle close to his hometown.

“I’ve got a lot of family going out there,” he said. “I’ve got to put on a better performance than I did last week.”

Konrad loses to Mocco

Heavyweight All-American Cole Konrad dropped a 2-1 double-overtime decision to Steve Mocco of Oklahoma State at the Marines-All Star Classic on Monday in Edwardsville, Ill.