2/10/2014, 12:00am

Column: Raucous crowd lifted Gophers, ya feel me?

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.

2/6/2014, 12:00am

Minnesota preps for No. 1 Penn State

No. 1 versus No. 2. Check. A sold-out arena. Check. A rivalry matchup to close out the dual season. Check. The matchup has been building, and now all that’s left are the actual matches. No. 2 Minnesota will host No. 1 Penn State this weekend in a battle of Big Ten and NCAA powerhouses. The Gophers wrestling team has lost only one dual this year — an upset loss to then-No. 19 Michigan. The Nittany Lions haven’t lost yet.

2/4/2014, 12:00am

Column: Only the postseason matters for Nelson, ya feel me?

It’s one of the oldest clichés in all of sports: It’s not about how you start; it’s about how you finish. It became a cliché because it’s applicable to almost every situation in sports. It’s about how you finish out halves or periods. It’s about how you finish out games or matches. It’s about how you finish out seasons. And in senior star wrestler Tony Nelson’s case, it’s about how you finish out a career.

2/4/2014, 12:00am

Off the mat, an even fiercer fight

Gophers wrestling matches at the Sports Pavilion usually start off with a 125-pound bout. If head assistant coach Brandon Eggum had his way, though, the matches would instead kick off with a fashion show. A catwalk, flashing lights, bumping walk-out music — anything that would allow the Gophers coaching staff to “strut their stuff” down the runway in the name of winning best-dressed. Minnesota’s coaches have been competing for the honor at every home dual meet since 2011, and they take it seriously.

2/3/2014, 12:00am

Gophers pummel Hoosiers 35-6

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.

1/30/2014, 12:00am

Nelson hopes to rebound

Senior heavyweight Tony Nelson doesn’t lose often. And losing twice is almost unheard of. In fact, the two-time defending NCAA heavyweight champion’s 2-3 record in the last three weeks matches his losses from the last two seasons combined. So, what’s going on? His teammate, junior Logan Storley, said he thinks Nelson has a target on his back. “Guys wrestle him hard,” Storley said. “They are trying to slow him down.” And so far, they have ­— to a degree.

1/27/2014, 12:00am

Gophers bounce back, beat Hawkeyes

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.

1/23/2014, 12:00am

Minnesota looks to bounce back at Iowa

While bouncing back from a loss isn’t always easy, doing so on the road against the No. 2 team in the nation in one of college wrestling’s oldest rivalries isn’t any easier. That’s exactly what the No. 4 Gophers are tasked with this weekend as they travel to Iowa City, Iowa, to take on the Hawkeyes. After a disappointing loss to then-No. 19 Michigan on Sunday afternoon, the Gophers know the importance of this match. “We have a lot to prove,” junior Logan Storley said after Sunday’s loss.

1/21/2014, 12:00am

Minnesota loses its first dual of the season

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.

12/9/2013, 12:00am

Steinhaus leads team past Oklahoma State

Gophers redshirt senior Kevin Steinhaus won a major decision in his return to the lineup as No. 2 Minnesota beat No. 5 Oklahoma State 16-15 on Sunday in Stillwater, Okla. The Gophers and Cowboys both won five matches, but Steinhaus recorded the bonus point that ultimately decided the dual. “That was a big win for us,” head assistant coach Brandon Eggum said of Steinhaus’ match, “especially going out there and getting the major decision.”

12/5/2013, 12:00am

Schiller leads team as a redshirt junior

Gophers wrestler Scott Schiller was a 4-year-old and had just lost his first match. He was sitting in his father’s lap sobbing when another dad asked if Scott would wrestle his son. Scott said yes. He won the match, kept wrestling and went on to become a three-time North Dakota state champion. “He experienced the trials and tribulations of wrestling in a very quick way,” said Scott’s father, Brad Schiller. “And he was hooked.”

12/3/2013, 12:00am

Rangell trades paintball for the mat

Not many athletes can say they’ve embarked on a professional athletics career before college. Gophers wrestler Conrad Rangell can. Rangell spent five years playing professional paintball and returned to school in 2010. He won California community college state wrestling championships in 2010 and 2011 before transferring to Minnesota in fall 2012. At 26, Rangell is the Gophers’ oldest wrestler, even though he’s just a redshirt junior.

12/2/2013, 12:00am

Gophers beat Oregon State

Redshirt freshman Sam Brancale won his first dual match and redshirt junior Scott Schiller defeated the nation’s top-ranked 197-pound wrestler, as the No. 2 Gophers defeated No. 18 Oregon State 28-12 on Saturday in Corvallis, Ore. The Gophers won eight of 10 matches in the dual — a year after squeaking past the Beavers with an overtime decision in the final match. “We just started out on a really good note,” head assistant coach Brandon Eggum said. “Right now, they’re all competing very well.”

11/27/2013, 12:00am

Gophers watch weight

Gophers wrestlers won’t indulge in an extra slice of pumpkin pie or portion of mashed potatoes Thursday, even as the average American consumes 4,500 calories. The wrestlers need to stay conscious about what they’re eating Thanksgiving Day because they have a dual meet against No. 18 Oregon State two days later. “They can’t snack as much as some of us like to,” head assistant coach Brandon Eggum said, “but they should be able to eat a full meal.”

11/25/2013, 12:00am

Gophers wallop Wyoming 41-5

David Thorn, Dylan Ness and Tony Nelson all recorded pins as the No. 2 Gophers dominated Wyoming 41-5 on Sunday at the Sports Pavilion. The Gophers won nine of 10 matches and improved their dual-meet record to 2-0 on the season. The team hasn’t lost a dual meet since January. “For us to win national tournaments, we’ve got to score bonus points,” assistant coach Luke Becker said. “And I thought we did a great job of that today.”

11/21/2013, 12:00am

Minnesota signs third Thorn, plus six others

Seven Gophers wrestling recruits signed national letters of intent last week, including one whose brothers have already wrestled for Minnesota. Tommy Thorn of St. Michael, Minn., will become the third member of his family to wrestle for the Gophers starting next fall. Thorn, the youngest of four siblings, is a three-time Minnesota high school champion, a two-time member of the FILA Cadet World Team and winner of a Junior Freestyle National Championship.

11/18/2013, 12:00am

Minnesota wins seven titles at Open tourney

The Gophers won seven of 10 titles at the Harold Nichols Open in Ames, Iowa, on Saturday without two of their top wrestlers in the lineup. David Thorn and Dylan Ness, Minnesota’s 133- and 157-pound wrestlers, did not make the trip because of schoolwork and minor injuries, head assistant coach Brandon Eggum said. Eggum said both could have wrestled Saturday and both will return Friday for Minnesota’s dual meet against Purdue. The Gophers displayed their depth and durability without Ness and Thorn.

11/14/2013, 12:00am

Gophers adjust, five wrestlers move up a class

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.

11/11/2013, 12:00am

Nelson leads his team at Bison Open

The No. 3 Gophers wrestling team opened its season Saturday with eight individual titles at the Bison Open in Fargo, N.D. Minnesota redshirt freshman Brett Pfarr won the 184-pound title, redshirt senior Tony Nelson won the heavyweight title and their teammates added six more individual titles as the Gophers won more than 75 percent of their matches. “We’ve got a really well-rounded team,” Nelson said. “That’s why I think we walked away with eight titles.”

11/7/2013, 12:00am

Nelson, Gophers ready to start season

The Gophers wrestling team opens its 2013-14 season Saturday at the Bison Open in Fargo, N.D. Minnesota is ranked No. 3 in InterMat’s preseason national poll. The Gophers finished third at the NCAA championships last season and will return eight All-Americans, including redshirt senior heavyweight Tony Nelson, a two-time defending Big Ten and NCAA champion.