Golden Gopher Wrestling Hands Out Post-Season Awards

Zach Sanders voted team MVP second straight year

The University of Minnesota wrestling team held their annual team awards banquet on Sunday night at the Ramada Inn in Minneapolis. Over 200 guests were attendance to honor the 2011-12 team well as individual honorees, who were presented with their awards at the event.

Minnesota capped off the season with a second place finish at the 2012 NCAA Championships. The Gophers were also crowned NWCA/Cliff Keen National Dual Champions and were named the Big Ten Regular Season Dual Co-Champions. The team finished the regular season with an overall record of 14-3 and 7-1 in the Big Ten. Minnesota defeated both Iowa (16-15) and Oklahoma State (18-13) en route to their National Dual title.

Four-time All-American Zach Sanders was named Most Valuable Wrestler of the Year for the second straight season. Sanders closed out his career with a third place finish at NCAA championships and finished ranked sixth on the all-time wins list (134-27) for Minnesota. The Wabasha native was also awarded the Upperclassman Academic Award for his work in the classroom.

Sonny Yohn was voted as the Verne Gagne “Leadership Award” winner. Yohn wrapped up his career as a three-time All-American and finished with 111 career wins in the Maroon and Gold, which puts him in a tie for 25 on the all-time list.

2012 Heavyweight National Champion Tony Nelson was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler award. The redshirt sophomore defeated the last year’s champion (Zach Rey) on the grand stage by a 4-1 decision. Nelson finished the season with an overall record of 32-2 and finished the season on a 25 match winning streak. The Cambridge native also captured titles at the Bison Open, Southern Scuffle and the Big Ten Championship.

Kevin Steinhaus led the Gophers with 34 wins this season. The Pennock native was named the Most Dedicated Wrestler of the Year after picking up his second straight All-American honor. The redshirt sophomore was also the Big Ten Champion this season and was named Big Ten Wrestler of the Week after defeating Quentin Wright of Penn State by a 6-1 decision.

Jake Deitchler who entered the 2011012 season as the favored Gopher wrestler at 157 pounds, was forced to end his career shortly into the season. Deitchler wrestled in seven matches this past season with only one loss before being forced to retire due to multiple concussions over the course of his career. The Anoka native and 2008 U.S. Olympian was named the Fraser Dean Most Courageous Wrestler Award.

Redshirt freshman Dylan Ness, who finished runner-up at 141 pounds in the country was named the Most Outstanding Freshman of the Year. Ness upset then undefeated Jamal Parks of Oklahoma State in the quarterfinals in St. Louis. The Bloomington native led the team in wins by fall this season (eight), which also gave him the Most Falls Award for the season.

True freshman Logan Storley was named the Most Exciting Wrestler of the 2011-12 season. Storley capped off an All-American season in his first year wearing the Maroon and Gold. The South Dakota native finished the year with a record of 25-9 and a runner-up finish at the Big Ten Championships. Storley also finished the Big Ten regular season with a perfect 7-0 record.

Chris Dardanes was named the Most Improved Wrestler of the season. Dardanes earned his first All-American honor after placing fourth at the NCAA championships. The Chicago native joined the starting line-up midway through the season and finished with 25 wins.

Freshman Brenton Beard was named the Freshman Academic Award Winner of the Year.