Minnesota’s top returning 125- through 157-pound wrestlers gained weight over the summer. But instead of cutting the pounds to stay in their weight classes, the wrestlers decided to roll with it.
Now, they’re competing in a heavier weight class — an unusual move for five men on a team to make at once.
“You’ll see a guy move up here and there, but five people is pretty unheard of,” said redshirt senior David Thorn, an All-America 125-pound wrestler who moved up to 133 pounds.
Minnesota’s coaching staff approached the five wrestlers —Thorn, Chris Dardanes, Nick Dardanes, Dylan Ness and Danny Zilverberg — in September about moving up.
The five wrestlers had gotten bigger and stronger over the summer and would have struggled to make weight in their old classes, Thorn said.
Head assistant coach Brandon Eggum said the coaches made it clear they wanted the wrestlers to decide for themselves.
He said the coaches wanted the wrestlers to focus on getting better rather than making weight or losing pounds to qualify for a lower weight class.
College wrestlers compete in one of 10 weight classes, ranging from 125 pounds to heavyweight. Wrestlers are not allowed to compete below their established minimum wrestling weight and must weigh in on the day of the competition.
“The wrestling season is really long,” Thorn said. “And cutting a lot of weight only makes it that much longer.”
Zilverberg, a redshirt senior and a 157-pound wrestler last season, said he and a couple other wrestlers were initially apprehensive but wanted to do what was best for the team.
Zilverberg competed in the 165-pound class Saturday at the Bison Open and went 3-1, losing a 4-2 decision in the finals to North Dakota State’s Steven Monk, the nation’s third-ranked 165-pound wrestler.
Eggum said Zilverberg controlled most of the title match, and his opponent was “saved by the buzzer” in the first round.
Zilverberg is replacing All-American Cody Yohn at 165 and said he didn’t feel undersized last weekend.
Chris Dardanes, a redshirt junior who moved from 133 to 141, said Sunday that everyone is feeling good about the move.
Eggum appeared confident the move would benefit the team.
“Those guys are strong enough competitors and great wrestlers,” Eggum said. “If we didn’t believe that they had the abilities to be a national champion at that weight, we wouldn’t ask them to do it.”