The No. 4 Gophers wrestling team split two duals this weekend, falling to No. 5 Cornell on Friday and defeating No. 2 Penn State on Sunday.
As is fast becoming a theme in this young season, Minnesota jumped out to a quick start Sunday in a 23-14 win over the defending NCAA Champions Penn State.
The Gophers boast several quality wrestlers at their lightweights. Zach Sanders (125 pounds) and David Thorn (133) earned wins. Thorn and Nick Dardanes (141) earned major decisions and after three matches, Minnesota led 11-0.
Penn State mounted a comeback, winning three of the next four matches, one by technical fall and the other by fall.
Jake Deitchler (157) won a 9-4 decision over PSU’s Dylan Alton. But sophomore phenom David Taylor beat Cody Yohn (165) 16-1 for a technical fall.
“They’re really strong at 149, 165 and 174, they’re top-ranked guys in the country,” head assistant coach Brandon Eggum said.
“It was nice to see Dylan [Ness] at 149 come back and score a few take downs at the end, he finished really well.”
Kevin Steinhaus (184) and Sonny Yohn (197) ended PSU’s comeback with big wins.
Steinhaus defeated No. 1 Quentin Wright 6-1.
Sonny Yohn won a back-and-forth match against Morgan McIntosh 4-3 on a last-second take down.
“It was good to see Steinhaus and Sonny wrestle a great match,” Eggum said. “Those guys are great wrestlers and for Steinhaus, [he beat] the top ranked guy in the country.”
Nelson sealed the deal at heavyweight when he defeated Cameron Wade 5-0.
Sunday’s win was big for Minnesota, but the weekend wasn’t all positive, as the team fell Friday to the Big Red, 20-16.
The Gophers got off to a quick start in Friday’s dual with wins at 125 and 133.
Sanders defeated Frank Perrelli 6-3, and Thorn needed less than two and a half minutes to pin Cornell’s Joe Stanzione, giving the Gophers a 9-0 lead after two matches.
“Thorn looked great,” Eggum said. “Last year he wrestled that kid, and there was a lot of scrambling and it was fairly close; [this year] he just kind of broke it open early.”
Minnesota lost the next three matches as Dardanes, Ness and Deitchler all dropped decisions and Cornell tied the dual at 9-9 by intermission.
“I think if we wrestle nine times out of ten there again, we win those first four matches,” Eggum said. “And to lose two of them that we were really dominating really hurt.”
Cody Yohn came close to a pin at 165 but settled for a 5-3 decision, regaining the lead for Minnesota.
Cornell again won the next three matches, with the big blow being at 197 pounds, where Cam Simaz pinned Sonny Yohn to put the match out of reach.
“It really hurt giving up a fall there,” Eggum said. “Sonny wrestled a good match for the first four minutes. But I think Sonny needs to get his conditioning up — he’s the type of guy that when he wrestles uses a lot of energy.”
With a match score of 12-21, Tony Nelson (heavyweight) earned a major decision over Jace Bennett, making the final score 16-21.
Eggum said the coaching staff has talked with Nelson about striving for falls when he is capable of dominating an opponent like Friday.
Redshirt sophomore Alec Ortiz jumped up two weight classes to wrestle at 174 pounds for the injured Logan Storley. Storley sprained his ankle during the Bison Open; Eggum said the team hopes to have him back within the next two weeks.
“Ortiz actually wrestled a good match,” Eggum said. “You know he kept the match within striking distance for winning.”
Minnesota did more to beat itself with numerous of freshman mistakes, according to Eggum.
“Because they’re young, a lot of them look forward to the [high-quality] competition,” Eggum said. “We were fine with [the schedule]; we’ve got a young team and want to see where we’re at.”
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