Tony Nelson took his time exiting the locker room after Minnesota’s dual against No. 1 Penn State on Sunday.
Nelson exchanged pleasantries with fans, posed for pictures and signed autographs for young admirers — all of whom watched the two-time NCAA heavyweight champion wrestle at the Sports Pavilion for the last time.
He surely gave them something to remember.
An announced crowd of 5,603 packed the Pav to the rafters, with more than half of those fans showing up at least an hour early.
While the dual is important, it’s also Senior Day for the wrestling team.
In its first dual since moving back to No. 2 in the NCAA rankings, the Gophers wrestling team pounced on Indiana from the get-go in a 35-6 rout.
It was a dominant win, but it didn’t come without a speed bump — two-time defending NCAA heavyweight champion Tony Nelson dropped another match, his third loss in a row and fourth in his last six matches.
Nelson expressed respect for his opponent after the match, but said he’s looking forward to meeting him again in the Big Ten and, potentially, the NCAA tournaments.
Tony Nelson will face the No. 6 heavyweight in the NCAA.
No. 4 Minnesota traveled to Iowa City, Iowa, this weekend and handed the No. 2 Hawkeyes their first conference loss of the season.
The Gophers’ (8-1, 5-1 Big Ten) win came at an opportune time — the team was upset by Michigan a week ago. It also came in a tough environment — in front of more than 10,000 fans at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Minnesota head assistant coach Brandon Eggum said he was pleased with his team’s turnaround.
The Gophers lost their first dual of the season on the road last weekend.
No. 2 Minnesota split a pair of duals on its road trip to Michigan over the weekend.
The Gophers fell to No. 19 Michigan 19-14 on Sunday afternoon, just two days after they dominated Michigan State 35-3.
The Gophers (7-1, 4-1 Big Ten) fell behind early Sunday after losing five of the first six matches against Michigan (7-2, 3-0 Big Ten), but they won three straight matches down the stretch to pull within two points heading into the heavyweight bout.