Wrestlers open season with a thud

by Brian Stensaas

It was supposed to break the single dual meet attendance record, but it didn’t.

Top-ranked Minnesota, the two-time defending NCAA wrestling national champion, was supposed to defeat No. 3 Iowa for the fifth time in six meetings, but it didn’t.

In the end, a lot of things that were expected to happen at the showdown between the two teams at St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center didn’t Friday night.

When it was all said and done, the Hawkeyes had the last laugh back down I-35, going home with a 24-11 win.

It was the Gophers’ first dual loss in 33 contests, dating back to Jan. 7, 2000, when Oklahoma State came to Williams Arena and gave Minnesota a 25-12 drubbing.

“Days like this are wake-up calls,” Minnesota coach J Robinson said. “We got out-wrestled and out-hustled in a few matches. They know who they are. It doesn’t take rocket science; you have to win the ones you’re supposed to win.”

One match where it was painfully obvious Minnesota was out-dueled was at 133 pounds.

Ryan Lewis, last year’s national runner-up at the weight, took the mat against Cliff Moore with the Gophers already down 4-0.

Rather than sticking to basic, locked heads wrestling, the second-ranked Lewis admittedly wore himself out. He did so by somersaulting several times in the seven minutes, with minimal success. What resulted was the fifth-ranked Moore claiming a 12-8 decision over Lewis thanks to a late takedown.

“I made so many mistakes,” Lewis said. “To go out there and roll around like I did, it’s a freaking disgrace. I feel absolutely terrible about the way I wrestled.”

Seventh-ranked 141-pounder Luke Moffitt decisioned Minnesota newcomer Tommy Owen 6-3 to give Iowa a 10-0 lead. But then the Gophers’ stars began to shine.

Defending individual NCAA champions Jared Lawrence (149) and Luke Becker (157) made short work of their respective opponents, both notching major decision wins to cut Iowa’s lead to 10-8 heading into intermission.

Following the break, Jacob Volkmann – who was originally slated to wrestle up at 174 – took the mat at 165 and defeated Jason D’Agata 8-3 to give the Gophers a 11-10 lead.

It would be short-lived, however.

Minnesota lost the next four matches as Iowa took one away from the home crowd of 12,180.

Though disappointed with the loss, Robinson was confident this adversity, not seen at the team level in nearly two years, might help his team in the long run. Becker agreed with his coach.

“Everybody has to take something out of this,” he said. “We now know we have some things to work on and have some time to correct them before March rolls around.”

Lowney set for surgery

one of the surprises in the match was Minnesota heavyweight Garrett Lowney losing by major decision to Steve Mocco in the final dual of the evening. The two are ranked third and second, respectively.

Lowney never really put up a fight in the 12-3 loss and Robinson explained why after the event. Lowney was hobbled from an injured shoulder, suffered over the summer, and will have surgery Tuesday. He is expected to miss up to three weeks.

Gophers ink five

minnesota wrestling also inked five recruits over the weekend.

Michigan’s Roger Kish (189), Ohio’s C.P. Schlatter (145), Iowa’s Mack Reiter (119), Matt Koz (215) and Mitch Kuhlman (165), both of Minnesota, have all signed letters of intent, giving Minnesota what is believed to be the top recruiting class in the nation during the early signing period. All five are state champions at their respective weights.

Brian Stensaas welcomes comments at [email protected]