Four All-Americans have been named captains of the 2011-12 University of Minnesota wrestling team. Seniors Zach Sanders and Sonny Yohn have been tabbed to lead the team, along with sophomores Tony Nelson and Kevin Steinhaus. The Gophers return seven of their nine competitors, from its NCAA Championship Team, which finished seventh overall last season. Minnesota will be looking to claim their fourth national championship this season.
“Having great leaders is an important factor in achieving success here at Minnesota,” assistant head coach Brandon Eggum. “We are fortunate to have captains with great leadership and characteristics.”
Sanders, is a three-time All-American at 125 lbs, who has placed fifth at nationals the last two years. The Wabasha, Minn., native went 34-6 last season with seven pins. He holds a career record of 102-23 with 28 pins.
Yohn enters his final campaign in the maroon and gold after coming off his second straight NCAA Championship appearance. Yohn, who hails from Alamosa, Colo., finished with 18 wins last season and a seventh place finish at nationals at 197 lbs. He lost to Big Ten foe Matt Powless in the second round by split victory 3-5, but came back to defeat Powless 5-2 for the seventh place match in Philadelphia.
The other two captains (Nelson and Steinhaus) as said before come from the sophomore class. This is something new to the Gopher tradition of having a couple sophomores take on the role, but Eggum and his staff feel pretty confident in their decision for this season.
“It is a little unique to have two sophomore captains in Tony Nelson and Kevin Steinhaus,” Eggum said. “These two have showed the skills on the mat and have shown the responsibility of being great captains.
Nelson is coming off a very impressive freshman season. The Cambridge, Minn., native finished with a record of 33-8 and took seventh in the heavyweight division at the NCAA Championships, to earn him All-American honors. He took second at the Big Ten Championships after falling just short to Iowa’s Blake Rasing.
Steinhaus, who picked up his first All-American honors with an eighth place finish at the NCAA Championships, finished with a record of 34-12 for the Gophers at 184 lbs. Hailing from Pennock, Minn., Steinhaus also recorded 11 major decisions in the 2010-11 season. He placed second at the Big Ten Championships after falling 3-4 against the Nittany Lions Quentin Wright.
Minnesota is set to open up practice on Monday October 10. The Gophers first competition of the season will be on Saturday November 12, as they will compete at the Bison Open.