ST. LOUIS — In a span of about 15 seconds, Tony Nelson went from wrestling in a tied national championship match to throwing both of his fists in the air, saluting the Minnesota fans and celebrating his first career national championship.
Nelson was the Gophers’ lone champion at the NCAA wrestling championships Saturday in St. Louis, but Minnesota crowned seven All-Americans and finished second to defending champion Penn State in the team standings.
Minnesota had 7 All-Americans, and J Robinson was named Nat’l Coach of the Year.
ST. LOUIS — Minnesota advanced eight wrestlers beyond day one of the NCAA championships and was sitting in second place.
That momentum seemed to halt Friday.
Dylan Ness (149 pounds) and Tony Nelson (heavyweight) are the only two Gophers still vying for a national title at their respective weight classes. Five other Minnesota wrestlers are competing in the loser’s bracket, which is more commonly referred to as the wrestleback bracket.
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.
Minnesota trails Penn State by five points for the team title.
The Gophers wrestling team had three losses in duals this season. On Sunday it will get a chance to avenge at least one of those.
“I definitely think that’s a high motivator for us as a team,” Cody Yohn (165 pounds) said. “Having the fact that it’s more or less a shot at redemption to beat these teams that we know we can beat.”
Minnesota (12-3, 7-1 Big Ten) will get a rematch with Iowa in the first round of the National Wrestlers Coaching Association National Duals final four. Iowa hosted the Gophers in late January and beat them 19-17.
Minnesota might get the chance to avenge two losses from earlier this season.