Redshirt sophomore Sonny Yohn entered the weekend ranked 18th in the nation and starting for the Gophers in the 184-pound division. He finished the weekend an Elite Division Champion in the 184 weight class at the Kaufman-Brand Open in Omaha, Neb.
This past Saturday marked the second consecutive weekend of individual competition for Minnesota wrestlers as the team looks to prepare for a strong run at another Big Ten title.
Yohn’s performance over the weekend displayed the aggression encouraged by the Gophers coaching staff.
“I think Sonny wrestled at a real hard pace,” head assistant coach Joe Russell said. “I think he was trying to score points all the time and being offensive minded like that led to great results for him this weekend.”
Yohn won by major decision in the quarterfinals and defeated two wrestlers from rival Iowa in the final two rounds, redshirt freshman Grant Gambrall in a 4-0 shutout in the semi-finals, and sophomore Vinnie Wagner by fall in the second period, to capture the title.
While Yohn was able to go undefeated over the weekend, other wrestlers in the Elite Division rebounded from early losses to place in their respective weight classes.
Redshirt juniors Scott Glasser (174) and Ben Berhow (heavyweight) captured third-place finishes at the Open to give Minnesota a strong overall showing.
The other Minnesota wrestler to place was redshirt freshman Cody Yohn, Sonny Yohn’s brother, who took fifth place in the 174 division.
“A couple of guys lost early in the tournament and then came back and beat those guys in the consolation round, so I think that was a positive thing for us,” Russell said.
While Sonny Yohn was the sole champion for the Gophers in the Elite Division, the team also had two Amateur Divison winners in freshmen Kevin Steinhaus and Jake Ketter in the 174 and heavyweight divisions, respectively.
Steinhaus and Ketter both won four matches en route to their championships. Steinhaus recorded a major decision in his first match and took the final by a score of 4-3. Ketter garnered two falls before taking the title match 6-5.
The Open was just another step in preparing for a vigorous conference schedule and allowing individual wrestlers to improve in order to perform at a high level for their team in key conference matches.
While Minnesota currently sits in fifth place in several national rankings, the early season tournaments like the Bison Open and the Kaufman-Brand act as a learning process for the wrestlers.
“I think our guys will learn a lot from it, and that’s what we want from these early tournaments,” Russell said. “It’s good to see the work they put in the fall and kind of see them making progress. For an early tournament I think it can definitely have a positive impact on our team.”
While the Gophers competed in Omaha, redshirt sophomore and All-American Zach Sanders traveled to California to compete in the NWCA All-Star Classic, an exhibition featuring the nation’s top wrestlers, including 19 All-Americans. Results were announced late Sunday.
UMN students have traveled to Florida colleges to collaborate with students on various projects.
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