Gophers Prepare to Host Two Duals

Minnesota will host Grand Canyon in its home opener on Thursday, then kick off its Big Ten season against Michigan State at the Pav on Friday.

After starting its season 2-0 with a pair of road dual victories last Saturday against Air Force (28-15) and Wyoming (30-7), Gopher Wrestling will kick of its home schedule this week with a non-conference dual against Grand Canyon at 7:30 p.m. CT on Thursday night and then a Big Ten dual, the team’s first of the season, against Michigan State at 7:30 p.m. CT on Friday. Both meets will be held at the Sport Pavilion.

Thursday night’s matchup against Grand Canyon will be the first-ever meeting between the Gophers and the Antelopes. Grand Canyon is entering its second year of a four-year transition period between Division II and Division I. During each of its final three seasons at the Division II level (2010, ’11 and ’12), GCU placed in the top 10 of the NCAA Championships. Last season the team was ineligible for NCAA Championship competition as part of its transition. The Antelopes competed in the NWCA Nationals instead and captured the tournament title to cap off a 14-5 season.

Minnesota GophersGrand Canyon began its season at the Doubletree Open in Grand Junction, Colo. Three Antelope wrestlers claimed individual titles at the event – AJ Salazar (125), Godwin Nyama-Cutler (133) and Austin Gaun (197). Chayse Jackson (157) placed second. Salazar is the only one of those four wrestlers not expected to compete against the Gophers on Thursday. Last Saturday, GCU began its dual season with a 42-6 loss to Illinois in Fresno, Calif., earning six points for a forfeit at 125 and then dropping the meet’s final nine matches.

Friday night, the Gophers will host Michigan State in the Big Ten opener for both teams. This will mark the 65th all-time meeting between the two schools, a series Minnesota leads 33-31. In last year’s matchup, Minnesota defeated Michigan State 35-3 in East Lansing to run its current winning streak over the Spartans to seven matches, a run that dates back to January, 2005.

Michigan State began its season by hosting the Michigan State Open two weeks ago, an event at which nine Spartans placed at their respective weights. Last weekend, MSU competed in the Eastern Michigan Duals, sandwiching a 24-13 loss to Chattanooga between victories over Kent State (32-7) and Olivet College (44-0). Three Spartan wrestlers – Javier Gasca (133), Roger Wildmo (157) and Nick McDiarmid (197) went 3-0 in the event. In the dual against Chattanooga, Gasca knocked off No. 12 Nick Soto.

Minnesota enters Thursday’s match against Grand Canyon having won its last its last three home openers and its last 12 non-conference duals overall. Looking ahead to Friday’s match against Michigan State, Minnesota will put a six-match winning streak in Big Ten home openers on the line against the Spartans, a streak that dates back to the 2007-08 season.

Both meets this week will be streamed on Big Ten Plus, a subscription-based service that replaces Gopher All-Access as the home for streaming Gopher Wrestling events. Of course, updates from throughout both meets will be provided on the Gopher Wrestling Twitter feed, with a recap of each event will be available on GopherSports.com.

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