Three Gophers scored vital bonus points in their matches, but a victory in the final match of the night for No. 1 Chris Dardanes secured the victory for the Minnesota
Though the journey to the final moments of Friday night’s dual between No. 1 Minnesota and No. 17 Michigan was different than it was when the two met last January and the Wolverines defeated the Gophers 19-14, the situation heading into that closing bout was the exact same. Michigan led by two points and the winner of the last match would seal a victory for his team.
This time around, the final match pitted No. 1 Chris Dardanes against No. 8 Rossi Bruno, a rematch of the title bout at the Cliff Keen Invitational in Las Vegas on December 6, which Dardanes won, 8-3. Midway through the third period, Friday night’s tilt between the two top-ten wrestlers was knotted at one, but a final period takedown and a point for riding time were enough for Dardanes to take the match, 4-2, and propel the Gophers to an exciting 20-19 victory.
The win was significant for Daradnes on several levels. Primarily, it secured a victory for his team, avenging its only loss in the last two years and keeping the nation’s top-ranked squad undefeated this season (7-0). For Dardanes personally, it was a victory in his first match since claiming the No. 1 ranking and also his 100th career victory. He joins teammates Logan Storley and Scott Schiller in reaching that milestone this season.
Dardanes and Bruno were positioned to wrestle the night’s last match after the meet began at 141, where Chris’ brother, No. 4 Nick Dardanes, earned a major decision over George Fisher, 13-5. It was the first of three matches in which the Gophers scored bonus points on the night, every one of which was critical to securing the victory.
After Jake Short dropped an 8-4 decision to No. 13 Alec Pantaleo at 149, No. 1 Dylan Ness took the mat looking to avenge a loss in last year’s dual to No. 19 Brian Murphy. Late in the second period of a close match, Ness locked in a cradle and turned Murphy onto his back, scoring the fall at 4:33 and adding six points to the Gophers’ total. The pin was the 34th of Ness’ career, moving him into a tie for 10th on the Gophers’ all-time pins list, matching Jacob Volkmann’s career total.
Brandon Kingsley got his first start of the dual season at 165 and dropped a major decision to No. 10 Taylor Massa, 12-2, which brought the dual score to 10-7. In the last match before the intermission, No. 3 Storley took on Connor Brancheau at 174. Storley scored a pair of takedowns and earned back points for a near-fall, but needed a critical point for riding time – he had amassed more than four minutes during the match – to secure the 8-0 major decision and tack on a bonus point for the team.
Coming out of the intermission, No. 10 Brett Pfarr fell behind No. 13 Domenic Abounader early in their match after a takedown and a near-fall, but fought back hard for the remainder of the match. Pfarr trimmed the deficit to a single point in the third period, but was unable to jump ahead of Abounader, dropping an 8-7 decision.
In the night’s second (and final) rematch from last season’s dual, No. 1 Schiller took on Chris Heald. Schiller looked strong throughout the match as he secured a 10-3 decision to push the Gopher lead to 17-10.
Trailing by seven points, Michigan charged back in the next two matches. No. 8 Adam Coon scored a fall over No. 13 Michael Kroells at 285 and Conor Youtsey won a 10-7 decision over Jordan Bremer at 125 to catapult the Wolverines into the lead, 19-17, heading to the final match, where Dardanes outlasted Bruno to earn a win for himself and his team.
The Gophers won’t have much time to reflect on the victory, as they travel to New Jersey to take on Big Ten newcomer, No. 24 Rutgers, this Sunday. The dual is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. CT and will be streamed on BTN Plus, which requires a subscription. Updates from throughout the meet will be provided on the Gopher Wrestling Twitter feed and a full recap will be available on GopherSports.com after the dual’s conclusion.
#1 Minnesota 20, #17 Michigan 19
141: #4 Nick Dardanes (MINN) over George Fisher (MICH) (MD 13-5)
149: #13 Alec Pantaleo (MICH) over Jake Short (MINN) (Dec 8-4)
157: #1 Dylan Ness (MINN) over #19 Brian Murphy (MICH) (Fall 4:33)
165: #10 Taylor Massa (MICH) over Brandon Kingsley (MINN) (MD 12-2)
174: #3 Logan Storley (MINN) over Connor Brancheau (MICH) (MD 8-0)
184: #13 Domenic Abounader (MICH) over #10 Brett Pfarr (MINN) (Dec 8-7)
197: #1 Scott Schiller (MINN) over Chris Heald (MICH) (Dec 10-3)
285: #8 Adam Coon (MICH) over #13 Michael Kroells (MINN) (Fall 0:28)
125: Conor Youtsey (MICH) over Jordan Bremer (MINN) (Dec 10-7)
133: #1 Christopher Dardanes (MINN) over #8 Rossi Bruno (MICH) (Dec 4-2)