The No. 4 Gophers wrestling team advanced to the final four of the National Wrestling Coaches Association/Cliff Keen National Duals.
Minnesota dominated both of its opponents this weekend, beating Kent State 35-3 and Missouri 26-7.
“As far as team effort, it was excellent I thought,” head assistant coach Brandon Eggum said. “The guys wrestled very well. We ended up just losing three matches in both duals, so I’m very impressed.”
Missouri upset second-seeded Michigan to face the Gophers in the championship match. Eggum said he was a little surprised to be facing Missouri.
“I think we were looking at it on paper, and we could easily see it going five and five,” Eggum said. “We were leaning towards Michigan winning that dual [between Michigan and Missouri] but we did know that Missouri had a good chance.”
Eggum said he was happy to face Missouri, a team the Gophers haven’t seen this season and that wrestling them could help later in the postseason.
Seven Minnesota wrestlers went undefeated in the two duals. Minnesota only lost three matches Saturday.
The weak spot for the Gophers was at 157 pounds, where Alec Ortiz fell to Kent State’s Mallie Shuster and Danny Zilverberg fell to Missouri’s Drake Houdashelt.
“Both Zilverberg and Ortiz are going to be getting some time,” Eggum said. “This weekend we could likely split time with those two as well in the final four — Zilverberg hasn’t had a lot of match time or experience yet — but they both wrestled hard.”
Sonny Yohn (197 pounds) lost to Missouri’s Brent Haynes 10-0.
“There was a couple scrambles where he lost the scrambles and gave up a couple near falls,” Eggum said. “Maybe you see the score and you think that he’s a long ways out of that match, but it was a pretty close match.”
After sitting out the regular season finale, Cody Yohn returned in a big way and pinned Kent State’s Ross Tice. Yohn picked up another win against Missouri’s Zach Toal 6-1. Yohn had struggled in the previous weeks and had lost five of his last seven matches before he was benched.
“It was great to see Cody get a pin in that first round and then come back and win again against Missouri,” Eggum said. “He looked great, he wrestled well, and I think he was feeling well.”
Twins Chris Dardanes (133) and Nick (141) Dardanes had strong showings Saturday. Chris Dardanes had two major decisions against Kent State’s Stevie Mitcheff and Missouri’s Nathan McCormick. Nick Dardanes also picked up two major decisions against Tyler Small and Brandon Wiest.
Minnesota won most of the matches that featured two individually-ranked wrestlers, with the exception of No. 7 Haynes’ defeat of No. 6 Sonny Yohn.
Tony Nelson (heavyweight) needed overtime to close out the dual against Kent State and beat No. 14 Brendan Barlow 5-4.
Dylan Ness (149) also used overtime to beat Missouri’s Kyle Bradley 8-6.
Although the duals were blowouts, there were numerous close matches. The Gophers picked up bonus points in eight of the 20 matches.
Minnesota won the Rutgers region, which was the only region of the tournament decided Saturday. Illinois, Iowa and Oklahoma State will join the Gophers in the final four of the National Duals.
The final four of the tournament will be held in Stillwater, Okla., on the campus of Oklahoma State.
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