St. Louis — Three pins propelled the Gophers wrestling team to a strong first session Thursday, and Minnesota didn’t stop there.
Minnesota advanced eight of its nine wrestlers in the championship bracket after day one of the 2012 NCAA championships at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
The Gophers sit in second place and five points behind first-place Penn State. They were also in second place after the morning session of the tournament. Minnesota trailed the Nittany Lions by only half a point, 25.5 to 25, at the session break.
Zach Sanders (125 pounds), Chris Dardanes (133) and Kevin Steinhaus (184) all recorded wins by fall for Minnesota. Dardanes pinned his opponent late in the first period while Sanders and Steinhaus waited until the third period.
Dardanes wrestled on a mat adjacent to the mat that his brother Nick Dardanes (141) was wrestling on. Nick Dardanes defeated Northern Illinois’ Kevin Fanta 12-4.
Both of the Dardaneses and Sanders also recorded wins in the nightcap to advance in the championship bracket.
Sanders used an escape and was awarded for having more than one minute of riding time to narrowly defeat Oklahoma State’s Jon Morrison 2-0.
Steinhaus followed up his pin in the first session with a comeback win in the second session. Steinhaus used a last second takedown and a riding time point to defeat Virginia’s Jon Fausey 7-6.
Cody Yohn (165) was the only wrestler to lose on the first day.
Yohn was upset by Cal Poly’s Dominic Kastl 2-1. Kastl led the match in the closing seconds when Yohn gave a last-ditch effort to record the take down. He got Kastl down to the mat, but no points were awarded by the official.
After the loss, Yohn went to the wrestleback bracket, where the best he could finish was third place. But he fell to Virginia’s Nicholas Sulzer 3-2 in overtime and was eliminated.
Logan Storley (174), Sonny Yohn (197) and Tony Nelson (heavyweight) will also advance in the championship bracket for the Gophers.
Like Sanders, Storley used an escape and a riding-time point to beat West Virginia’s Lance Bryson 2-0.
Wrestling will continue at Scottrade center tomorrow, with each weight class being narrowed to eight wrestlers in both the championship and wrestleback brackets in the morning and to four wrestlers in the evening session.
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