Last December, redshirt senior Nick Wanzek didn’t do as well as he wanted to at the Cliff Keen Invitational, finishing eighth at 174. This Friday and Saturday, he will have a chance to have a better showing, as the Gophers travel to Las Vegas, Nevada for this year’s Cliff Keen Invitational.
Wanzek had multiple reasons for a subpar performance last year. He was wrestling at 174, which isn’t his preferred weight, and had a back injury. This year, the redshirt senior is at his preferred weight of 165 and is healthy. Wanzek thinks this will help him be more successful this time around.
“Last year, I was at , so the guys were a lot bigger and a lot stronger,” Wanzek said. “I got hurt in the tournament and had to forfeit out. I would have done a little better, but I injured my back and they pulled me out. This year I think it’ll be a lot better... My mindset is to have fun, compete and dominate.”
Wanzek is currently ranked No. 9 at 165. His head coach Brandon Eggum has been impressed with him as a wrestler. He’s seen Wanzek make a lot of progress and become a force on the mat.
“He’s very disciplined,” Eggum said. “He wrestles at a really good pace. He has good conditioning. He’s long, but really strong. Those are things that can really benefit you as a wrestler. He can wrestle really well in all three positions."
Last year’s Cliff Keen Invitational is a good representation of his career as a Minnesota wrestler so far. Wanzek has put up decent statistics, but he hasn’t been as successful as he had hoped to be. As a redshirt freshman in 2014-15, Wanzek posted a 16-12 overall record, had six major decisions and two technical falls.
The next season, he improved his overall record to 21-13 and recorded 2 pins, while his number of major decisions and technical falls decreased to four and zero, respectively. Wanzek improved his overall record again in his redshirt junior year.
He went 29-14 with two pins, six major decisions and one technical fall. Similar to his belief that this year’s Cliff Keen Invitational will be better for him, Wanzek hopes this year will finally be when everything comes together for him.
“In my career as a Gopher, there’s been a lot of up and downs,” Wanzek said. “When I was young I really struggled. Then I moved up to 174 and had a lot of losses there. After five years, I think I’ve settled in at my weight class.”