The Gophers looked like they were losing at the wrong time, dropping their last four duals heading into the weekend.
When the team went on the road for their most recent duals, however, that streak snapped.
No. 21 Minnesota (7-6, 4-4 Big Ten) went on the road and beat Rutgers 20-12 on Friday and Maryland 26-22 on Sunday.
The Gophers won five of the 10 matches in the dual against Maryland. In the five matches Minnesota won, it was dominant. They had four matches decided by falls and another by a major decision.
“It was a tighter team score than we would have liked, but overall, I thought the guys we had out there wrestled really well,” head coach Brandon Eggum said after the Maryland dual. “I liked the way the guys wrestled.”
Ethan Lizak won his match with an 18-2 tech fall at 125. Mitch McKee followed Lizak’s lead with a 15-0 tech fall at 133.
“McKee keeps on getting better every weekend,” Eggum said. “He’s looking very dominant.”
Jake Short pinned his opponent in the second period of his match at 157 and Chris Pfarr pinned his opponent early in the first period at 174. Nick Wanzek earned a 15-7 major decision victory at 165.
Minnesota’s victory over Rutgers was its first conference road victory of the season.
The Gophers won six of the 10 matches in the dual against the Scarlet Knights.
“There was really good intensity by all 10 guys that went out there,” Eggum said. “I think that’s really important especially when we’re coming down to the end of the season.”
Minnesota got off to a hot start and built a 14-0 lead before Rutgers tallied any points. In the first match of the evening, heavyweight Rylee Streifel won a 2-0 decision to put Minnesota ahead 3-0. Ethan Lizak added to the lead when he earned a 16-0 technical fall at 125. McKee and Tommy Thorn both won decisions at 133 and 141, respectively.
The most impressive performance by a Gopher may have come in a match that didn’t end with a victory for the team. At 149 pounds, Miles Patton was competing in the first Big Ten dual of his career and his first dual since Nov. 21, 2015 against Air Force.
Patton battled No. 11 Eleazar DeLuca to a narrow 6-4 defeat. Patton had held a 4-3 lead with just over a minute to go in the match. The effort Patton put forth left a good impression on his coach.
“At 149, with Miles Patton filling in, I thought he did a great job and almost got a big upset,” Eggum said.
Minnesota also earned victories from Short and Dylan Anderson. Short won a 4-3 decision at 157 and Anderson won an 11-4 decision at 197 in the last match of the dual. Wanzek lost a very close decision to No. 8 Richie Lewis. He fell 3-1 due to a takedown in the last minute of the match.
“I like the way the guys are wrestling,” Eggum said after the dual Sunday. “It was a good weekend. We didn’t have our full lineup in there. You can see that when our guys go out and wrestle that way and score a lot of bonus points, it’s pretty impressive.”
Minnesota will come home and practice before traveling back to the east coast for its last dual of the regular season. Minnesota wrestles Rider University on Friday.