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The Gophers wrestling team defeats Northwestern 29-10

Minnesota has won five straight duals as it turns its attention toward the Big Ten Championships.
Image by Emily Urfer
An Iowa State wrestler takes down Gopher Wrestler Boo Dryden at Maturi Pavilion on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021.

The No. 12 Gophers wrestling team picked up its fifth straight win on Sunday, topping No. 11 Northwestern 29-10 in the team’s final dual of the regular season.

To start at the 157 pound weight class, Minnesota’s No. 6 Brayton Lee took on top-ranked Ryan Deakin. Deakin dominated Lee in a 12-0 major decision as Northwestern took an early 4-0 lead.

Following Northwestern’s early win, Minnesota rattled off six straight wins to pull away in the dual. At 165 pounds, No. 17 Andrew Sparks defeated Northwestern’s David Ferrante in a 14-11 decision. At 174 pounds, No. 16 Jake Allar won a narrow 6-5 decision over the Wildcats’ Troy Fisher.

Minnesota started to pull away when Isaiah Salazar pinned Jack Jessen at 184 pounds, and Garret Joles picked up a decision at 197 pounds, giving the Gophers a 15-4 advantage.

Soon after, No. 1 heavyweight Gable Steveson beat Jack Heyob in a 16-1 technical fall win to increase Minnesota’s lead to 20-4. The win marked Steveson’s third-straight undefeated regular season, and the top-ranked heavyweight has rattled off 26 straight wins.

“I felt good about our team’s last dual. In the Big Ten’s, I know it’s going to be a big challenge, but this right here in Maturi is where the money starts, and we have to get all the bread in March 6-7 like we did today,” Steveson said.

Upset wins also occurred after Steveson’s match, including No. 11 Patrick McKee winning a 9-6 decision over No. 4 Michael DeAugustino in the 125 pound weight class. Michael Blockus also won a 3-2 decision over No. 12 Yahya Thomas in the 149 pound weight class.

“I loved Pat McKee’s body language today, and besides one fortunate event for Northwestern, he really dominated that match. Blockus also had a great one, too, knocking off the 12th ranked guy. He’s tough as nails, and we as a coaching staff, we’re just waiting for him to get a great opportunity to show that,” Gophers head coach Brandon Eggum said. “Salazar also stepping in at [1]84 as a true freshman, competing at such a high level today was also awesome to see.”

At 133 pounds, Chris Cannon pinned Minnesota’s Boo Dryden, and at 141 pounds, Marcos Polanco earned a 3-1 decision victory over Colin Valdiveiz. Blockus’ upset rounded out the win for Minnesota, and the Gophers walked out of Maturi Pavilion with a winning streak and momentum heading into the Big Ten Championships.

“We are taking a couple days to recover this week, and then our practices will be individualized for the guys that will be competing, working on specifics for them that we want to see in Pennsylvania,” Eggum said.

The Big Ten Championships take place on March 6-7 at Penn State.

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