What brings together a handful of high school and college students, a Hennepin County human resources staffer and an architectural drafter on a Friday night? An anti-war protest? Flu shots? Avatar? None of the above. The small, yet disparate, group that met in the frigid plaza of the McNamara Alumni Center early Friday evening was holding a makeshift memorial ceremony for Conan OâÄôBrien, who hours later would host his final âÄúTonight ShowâÄù after just seven months in NBCâÄôs iconic role.
What is there to say about Gophers wrestling as it turns to a new decade and the second half of its 100th season? Plenty, but there are two things especially to keep an eye on during the infancy of 2010: the continued dominance of Jayson Ness and the meteoric rise of Scott Glasser. NessâÄô 19-0 start to his senior season is hardly surprising. Already a three-time All-American in as many tries and MinnesotaâÄôs all-time pin leader , thereâÄôs only the national championship mountain left to summit. No doubt 19 straight wins âÄî with 14 falls âÄî has put him on pace.
TEMPE, Ariz. âÄî In a tale of two fumbles, one apparently wasnâÄôt; another clearly was. Both hurt the Gophers; combined they decided the game. The first: midway through the fourth quarter, at the end of a 26-yard catch by Iowa State running back Alexander Robinson, Gophers safety Kim Royston made his 13th of an Insight Bowl record 15 tackles; the ball popped loose and Minnesota recovered, but after review, Robinson was ruled down. âÄúIt was a big, big play,âÄù Royston said. âÄúIt could have gone either way; it didnâÄôt go our way.âÄù
Minnesota assistant coach Brandon EggumâÄôs prescient abilities were in question for most of ThursdayâÄôs heavyweight match. On Wednesday, Eggum guaranteed an upset win for the Gophers at heavyweight by No. 11 Ben Berhow over No. 7 Tucker Lane. It didnâÄôt start well. NebraskaâÄôs Lane notched two early takedowns, and held a 4-1 lead late in the first period, but Berhow escaped with a single tick left on the clock. The effect on the scoreboard was minimal âÄì Berhow still trailed 4-2. The effect on momentum was critical, both in the match and the dual meet.
With a sly smile, assistant coach Brandon Eggum made his prediction for Thursday nightâÄôs heavyweight matchup between MinnesotaâÄôs Ben Berhow and NebraskaâÄôs Tucker Lane . âÄúIâÄôll call upset at heavyweight,âÄù Eggum said. Upset would mean No. 11 Berhow knocks off No. 7 Lane . It would also mean BerhowâÄôs string of three straight matches against top 10 opponents closes with a win. And with as strong as the Cornhuskers are at the higher weight classes, it would provide the 6th-ranked Gophers with much needed team points in ThursdayâÄôs 7 p.m. dual against No. 12 Nebraska at Williams Arena .
Having just learned of MinnesotaâÄôs bowl fate, senior Nick Tow-Arnett stood in the Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex discussing what will be his third trip to the Insight Bowl in four years. This time the Gophers (6-6 overall, 3-5 Big Ten) will play Iowa State (6-6 overall, 3-5 Big 12) on New YearâÄôs Eve. A year ago they lost to Kansas 42-21 at Sun Devil Stadium. In 2006, Texas Tech mounted a 31-point comeback in Tempe, Ariz., and eventually won in overtime, 44-41. This being his final chance at a bowl win, Tow-Arnett was asked whether the third time would be the charm. He chuckled a bit.
A pair of anticipated debuts took on entirely different forms Friday night in Stillwater, Okla. Redshirt freshman Mario MasonâÄô s collegiate debut went as planned. In his first official match for the Gophers, Mason, already ranked ninth at 149 pounds, recorded a 13-9 decision over Oklahoma StateâÄôs Quinten Fuentes. Two matches later, top-ranked Dustin Schlatter , returning to MinnesotaâÄôs lineup for the first time since March 2008 after redshirting a season ago , had his senior season debut ruined by No. 17 Alex Meade in a 3-2 loss.
Parity is an unfamiliar concept in college wrestling. Consider this: In the last decade, three teams have won the Division I NCAA championship. Oklahoma State has four, Minnesota and Iowa each have three. Another fun fact: in 78 years of Division I NCAA championships, two teams âÄî Oklahoma State and Iowa âÄî account for more than 70 percent of the national titles.
The chronology seems backwards. Dustin SchlatterâÄôs college wrestling career couldnâÄôt have started any better. The four-time high school state champion from Ohio won the 2006 national title at 149 pounds as a freshman. The following year, a perfect season was derailed by the most agonizing of margins. Regardless, his third-place finish was a critical piece of the GophersâÄô 2007 national title.
The 4th-ranked Minnesota wrestling team begins its dual meet season against Cal State-Bakersfield Saturday at 7 p.m. in Williams Arena. Wrestling unattached at the Bison and Kaufman-Brand Opens, a handful of Gophers notched early season championships. Last weekend in Omaha, sophomore Sonny Yohn captured the 184-pound title, an encouraging start to 2009 since Yohn missed the early part of last season coming off of shoulder surgery .
Minnesota's reigning Mr. Football and Gophers recruit ...READ MORE
It's been a busy couple of days for the Gophers hockey ...READ MORE
All-WCHA teams were announced today, with junior goaltender ...READ MORE