Key bonus points in early matches helped the Gophers build their lead and hang on to win, 17-16, to remain undefeated this season
No. 1 Minnesota won five of its first seven matches on Sunday against No. 6 Penn State, including major decisions by No. 4 Nick Dardanes (141) and No. 1 Dylan Ness (157), to build up just enough points to hold off the hard-charging Nittany Lions, 17-16, in State College, Pa. With the victory, the Gophers improve to 10-0 this season, including 6-0 in Big Ten competition. The loss, Penn State’s first at home since January 2011, drops the Lions to 8-2 (4-2) this season. Minnesota’s victory sets up a battle of unbeatens this Friday at Williams Arena, when the Gophers will host No. 2 Iowa, who also is 10-0 on the year.
With Sunday’s win, Minnesota extends its unbeaten streak against Penn State to 13 matches, a run that stretches back to February 1998 and is tied for the second-longest unbeaten streak the Gophers actively hold over any Big Ten foe. The nation’s top-ranked team has now won 29 of its last 30 duals, including its last 17.
In his first match since an odds-defying, third-period comeback a week ago, No. 1 Chris Dardanes opened Sunday’s dual at 133 against No. 9 Jimmy Gulibon. Tied at one in the match’s final 30 seconds, Dardanes scored a late takedown to defeat Gulibon 3-1, running his season record to 17-0 and earning a team-best seventh victory over a ranked opponent.
Nick Dardanes followed at 141 with a 14-6 major decision over Kade Moss. Dardanes secured two takedowns in each period of the match, ultimately sealing the major decision by adding a point for riding time, a result which provided the Gophers with a needed bonus point in the dual.
Following Penn State’s first win of the day after a late takedown-near fall combination broke open a 4-4 tie between No. 18 Zack Beitz and Jake Short at 149 and gave Beitz a 9-4 victory, Ness took on Cody Law. Following Dardanes’ lead, Ness notched a bonus point for the Gophers by earning a 9-1 major decision over Law. Like Dardanes, the deciding point to taking the major decision was scored on riding time. The win improved Ness’ record this season to 22-0.
Prior to the intermission, No. 17 Nick Wanzek looked strong against Garett Hammond, controlling the pace and winning an 8-4 decision. The win snapped a three-match losing streak in dual completion for Wanzek and stretched the Gopher lead to 14-3 at the dual’s midway point.
In the eighth installment of their rivalry, No. 3 Logan Storley and No. 4 Matt Brown started the action following the break, with Brown edging Storley 4-1 to improve to 5-3 all-time in the series.
At 184, No. 11 Brett Pfarr took control of his match in the second and third periods, and began looking for a major decision late over No. 16 Matt McCutcheon, cutting him loose after finishing several takedowns but ultimately settling for an 11-5 decision.
Pfarr’s victory would be the last for a Minnesota grappler on the day as the Nittany Lions mounted a comeback. Trailing 17-6, Penn State won the dual’s final three matches, first with an upset at 197 where No. 6 Morgan McIntosh defeated No. 1 Scott Schiller, 7-4, then with a narrow victory at 285 where No. 6 Jimmy Lawson held off No. 13 Michael Kroells, 3-1.
With his team leading by five, true freshman Ethan Lizak removed his redshirt and made his collegiate dual debut for the Gophers in his home state against No. 8 Jordan Conaway. Though Lizak dropped a major decision, 13-3, by avoiding a tech fall or a pin, he successfully clinched the victory for Minnesota.
Following their successful trip to Happy Valley, the Gophers return to the Twin Cities for their final home dual of the season this Friday, when top-ranked Minnesota hosts archrival and fellow unbeaten, No. 2 Iowa, at 6 p.m. CT at Williams Arena. The contest will be broadcast live from the Barn on the Big Ten Network, with updates provided throughout on the Gopher Wrestling Twitter feed. Seats are still available for the dual. Fans should visit MyGopherSports.com to check out available seats and purchase tickets.
#1 Minnesota 17, #6 Penn State 16
133 ##1 Christopher Dardanes (Minnesota) dec.9 James Gulibon (Penn State) 3-2
141 #4 Nick Dardanes (Minnesota) maj. dec. Kade Moss (Penn State) 14-6
149 #18 Zack Beitz (Penn State) dec. Jake Short (Minnesota) 9-4
157 #1 Dylan Ness (Minnesota) maj. dec. #9 Cody Law (Penn State) 9-1
165 #17 Nicholas Wanzek (Minnesota) dec. Garett Hammond (Penn State) 8-4
174 #4 Matthew Brown (Penn State) dec. #3 Logan Storley (Minnesota) 4-1
184 #11 Brett Pfarr (Minnesota) dec. #16 Matthew McCutcheon (Penn State) 11-5
197 #6 Morgan McIntosh (Penn State) dec. #1 Scott Schiller (Minnesota) 7-4
285 #6 James Lawson (Penn State) dec. #13 Michael Kroells (Minnesota) 3-1
125 #8 Jordan Conaway (Penn State) maj. dec. Ethan Lizak (Minnesota) 13-3