Minnesota’s heavyweights came up big once again and won two individual Big Ten championships this weekend, but the Gophers’ feats were outdone by a strong Penn State team.
The Gophers picked up 134 team points and finished 15 points behind champion Penn State and eight points in front of third-place Iowa.
Kevin Steinhaus and Tony Nelson captured individual Big Ten championships and aided the team to its second place finish.
Steinhaus (184 pounds) used overtime to beat Nebraska’s Josh Ihnen for the third time in his career and pick up the first individual championship for Minnesota. Steinhaus scored a takedown in overtime to beat Ihnen 3-1.
“Steinhaus had a really exciting match,” head assistant coach Brandon Eggum said. “He just wrestled a really sound match. He had a good tournament, and he looked good throughout the whole weekend.”
Nelson (heavyweight) beat Iowa’s Bobby Telford 2-0 for the second time this season. Nelson picked up an escape in the second period and rode Telford throughout the third period to pick up a point for having more than a minute of riding time.
“Tony wrestled great in the finals,” Eggum said. “His opponent came out and looked like he had a goal to keep it as close as he could, and we couldn’t get in on any real deep shots, but he did a good job on top in the third period.”
Nelson’s match secured second place for the Gophers, although Iowa could have tied Minnesota for second place if Telford had won.
Minnesota advanced five wrestlers to the championship matches after the first day of the tournament. The Gophers led the tournament after day one but were unable to hold off the Nittany Lions on day two.
Iowa’s Matt McDonough proved to be Zach Sanders’ (125) kryptonite once again when he beat the Gophers’ senior 6-1 in the championship match. Sanders’ second-place finish was the highest in his career at the Big Ten championships.
With the loss, Sanders is now 0-7 against McDonough in his career. There is a possibility that the two could meet one last time at the NCAA championships in St. Louis on March 15-17.
Frank Molinaro from Penn State won his second Big Ten championship by beating Dylan Ness (149) 15-0. Molinaro dominated all of his matches on the weekend winning by fall, 16-0 and 15-0.
Logan Storley (174) also finished second and fell to PSU’s Ed Ruth, who sealed Penn State’s team win with the 13-2 victory.
After the 174-pound match, the Gophers were fighting with Iowa for second place.
Sonny Yohn (197) dropped an early tournament matchup to PSU’s A.J. Kissel but beat Ohio State’s Andrew Campolattano 4-0 for a third-place finish.
“It was tough on him a little bit,” Eggum said. “Sonny definitely wanted to win a Big Ten title so it was a little bit disappointing when he lost — he kind of took it pretty hard — but he knew he had to comeback for his team. You’ve got to move forward from there; you can’t sit there and dwell on it.”
Chris Dardanes (133) and Nick Dardanes (141) both placed fourth in their respective weight classes, and Cody Yohn (165) placed fifth.
Each of Minnesota’s four freshmen finished in the top-four in their weight-respective weight classes.
“The four freshmen had a real good weekend,” Eggum said. “As far as effort, it was great. I think we learned a lot here this weekend with them.”
Minnesota did not place at 157, where Danny Zilverberg went 0-2.
The nine Gophers that placed will take a weekend off from competition before capping off its season with the NCAA championships, which will follow a similar format to the Big Ten, where team points are based on individual matches.
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