Minnesota has 117 team points, Iowa 112.5 and Penn State 111
After trailing by 19.5 points at the conclusion of the morning session, the top-ranked Minnesota Golden Gopher wrestling team kicked it up a notch in the afternoon session. The Gophers lead the overall field with a team total of 117 points. Iowa sits in third with 112.5 points and defending champion Penn State has 111 points.
The Maroon and Gold grapplers advanced five wrestlers into the championship matches tomorrow. Senior All-American Zach Sanders, redshirt freshman Dylan Ness, freshman Logan Storley, redshirt sophomore All-American Kevin Steinhaus and redshirt sophomore All-American Tony Nelson, all will be on the center stage tomorrow afternoon.
Championship action gets underway at 3 p.m. EST and the matches will be broadcasted live on the Big Ten Network. Jim Gibbons, Tim Johnson and Shane Sparks will have the call from Mackey Arena.
Sanders advanced to the finals after defeating Penn State’s Nico Megaludis by a 6-2 decision. The three-time All-American will square off against top-ranked Matt McDonough of Iowa. The match will start off the explosive championship field that will be in stored for tomorrow afternoon. Sanders will be looking for his first career win against the Hawkeye, as he is 0-6 all-time against McDonough.
Ness who hails from Bloomington, Minn., scored a thrilling 9-7 decision over Michigan’s Grajales. Ness, who lost to Grajales earlier in the season (5-3 dec.), was down early, but was able respond and turned the momentum towards the Gophers. He will face defending champion Frank Molinaro of Penn State. The two have squared off twice this season, with Molinaro winning both matches.
Minnesota’s third wrestler in the championships tomorrow is at 174 lbs. Storley, was able to overcome a loss to Iowa’s Ethan Lofthouse at the National Dual semifinals and pull away with the victory today. The Roslyn, S.D., native needed an extra time to record the win. Lofthouse shot in midway through the overtime period, but Storley was able to counter it and turn it into a two-point takedown, which brought the Minnesota fans to their feet. Storley will take on Ed Ruth from Penn State in their first ever match up.
Following the victory by Storley over an Iowa contender, Steinhaus recorded a 3-2 decision over the Hawkeyes Grant Gambrall. It was the second win over Grambrall this season, with the first coming at the National Duals, in Stillwater two weeks ago. Steinhaus will take on Nebraska’s Josh Ihnen who upset Penn State’s Quentin Wright in the semifinals.
The Gophers final spot in the championships tomorrow is at heavyweight. Nelson was up 3-1 late before Northwestern’s Matt McMullan scored a late takedown, but with Nelson having over a minute of riding time, he was awarded the extra point and picked up the 4-3 victory. He will square off with Iowa’s Bobby Telford, who he beat two weeks ago (2-0 dec.), to give Minnesota its first win over the Hawkeyes since 2007.
Other Golden Gophers who had strong afternoon sessions were Chris Dardanes, Cody Yohn and Sonny Yohn. All three are were knocked out of contention of winning an individual title during the morning session, but each recorded two wins apiece in the evening and have a chance to wrestle for third place tomorrow afternoon.
NOTES: Tony Nelson has now won his last 19 straight matches… Kevin Steinhaus has won 18 straight matches….Attendance for the afternoon session was 3,617.