OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Minnesota’s defending back-to-back national champion, Tony Nelson, will make his way to the championship bout for the third consecutive year. Despite a mid-season slump, the heavyweight has excelled in recent weeks and secured his position in the final bout of the year by defeating Big Ten foe Bobby Telford of Iowa, 4-3.
This isn’t the first time the two have met this season as Nelson traveled to Iowa City with the Gophers in late January. Telford was able to defeat the reigning champion but Nelson did not blink as he tallied four points en route to a semifinals victory.
“I’ve been in the big stage,” said Nelson at the post-bout press conference. “And first few times you’re going to get nervous and everyone’s looking at you, watching you, but for me this is my last year and I really want to go out there and enjoy it and being on that stage is something not many guys get to experience. And it’s something I’m going to want to remember for the rest of my life.”
Tomorrow’s finals bout could be historic for the Golden Gophers as a Nelson victory would etch his name into the Minnesota wrestling history books. He would be the first Gopher to win three individual national titles. He will face Nick Gwiazdowski of North Carolina State who boasts a 45-2 overall record.
Nelson will not be the lone representative in the finals for the Maroon and Gold as redshirt junior Dylan Ness has made quite the impression over the first two days of competition. With three pins in four bouts as the No. 9 seed, Ness has had an exciting journey to the big stage tomorrow evening. In the second day alone, Ness upset the No. 1 and No. 4 seeds including the 6-4 decision over Ian Miller of Kent State University that earned him a spot in the final round of competition.
His exciting and unpredictable style have made him a house-hold name in the wrestling world and tomorrow he will get another chance to shock Chesapeake Energy Arena as he is paired with Oklahoma State’s Alex Dieringer.
“Once you get to know somebody and wrestle them a lot more often, you kind of know what they’re going to do and you kind of feel how they’re going to wrestle and they kind of know how you’re going to wrestle, and it gets harder and harder every time,” said Ness. “And tomorrow could be a great match — it’s going to be a great match. I’m excited for it. He’s a tough competitor and a great wrestler, and he’s had a great year this year. It’s going to be a good one.”
The Maroon and Gold are still in the hunt for the team title as well sitting in second place, totalling 90.5 team points over the course of two days of competition. The Gophers are just half a point behind top-runners Penn State. Oklahoma State sits in third place with a total of 87.5.
Logan Storley, Scott Schiller, Kevin Steinhaus and David Thorn are all still alive in the fight for a third-place finish. Both Storley and Schiller dropped to their opponents in the semifinal round while Steinhaus and Thorn have continue to fight their way through wrestle-backs to keep their podium hopes alive. All four will earn All-America honors.
Danny Zilverberg fell in the fifth round of consolations by a 6-4 decision to Michael Moreno of Iowa State. Zilverberg, who made his second NCAA appearance this year, earned All-America honors but will not advance in the competition. Chris Dardanes fell by major decision to the No. 1 seed at 141, Mitchell Port of Edinboro, 8-0. Dardanes and his twin brother Nick will not advance in the competition.
The consolation (3rd, 5th and 7th place) matches will begin at 10 a.m. at Chesapeake Energy Arena and will be broadcasted on ESPNU/ESPN3. The championship matches will be broadcast live on ESPN beginning at 7 p.m.
2014 NCAA Division I Championships Results for Minnesota
Minnesota sits in second place with 90.5 team points
133 – David Thorn (28-7)
Cons. Round 4 – David Thorn (Minnesota) 28-7 won by decision over Ryan Mango (Stanford) 30-5 (Dec 3-1)
Cons. Round 5 – David Thorn (Minnesota) 28-7 won by decision over Cody Brewer (Oklahoma) 23-9 (Dec 14-10)
141 – Christopher Dardanes (28-8)
Cons. Round 3 – Christopher Dardanes (Minnesota) 28-8 won in sudden victory – 2 over Josh Dziewa (Iowa) 27-10 (SV-2 3-1)
Cons. Round 4 – Mitchell Port (Edinboro) 30-1 won by major decision over Christopher Dardanes (Minnesota) 28-8 (MD 8-0)
157 – Dylan Ness (23-5)
Semifinal – Dylan Ness (Minnesota) 23-5 won by decision over Ian Miller (Kent St.) 30-5 (Dec 6-4)
165 – Daniel Zilverberg (23-15)
Cons. Round 4 – Daniel Zilverberg (Minnesota) 23-15 won by decision over Josh Veltre (Bloomsburg) 24-7 (Dec 5-2)
Cons. Round 5 – Michael Moreno (Iowa St.) 30-8 won by decision over Daniel Zilverberg (Minnesota) 23-15 (Dec 6-4)
174 – Logan Storley (33-6)
Semifinal – Andrew Howe (Oklahoma) 28-1 won by decision over Logan Storley (Minnesota) 33-6 (Dec 6-3)
184 – Kevin Steinhaus (25-7)
Cons. Round 4 – Kevin Steinhaus (Minnesota) 25-7 won by decision over Max Thomusseit (Pittsburgh) 21-4 (Dec 6-5)
Cons. Round 5 – Kevin Steinhaus (Minnesota) 25-7 won by decision over Jacob Swartz (Boise State) 16-3 (Dec 6-2)
197 – Scott Schiller (32-5)
Semifinal – Nick Heflin (Ohio St.) 28-1 won in tie breaker – 1 over Scott Schiller (Minnesota) 32-5 (TB-1 2-1)
285 – Anthony Nelson (30-4)
Semifinal – Anthony Nelson (Minnesota) 30-4 won by decision over Bobby Telford (Iowa) 25-6 (Dec 4-2)