The Gophers head east this Sunday to take on No. 6 Penn State
For the second time in as many week, the top-ranked Gopher Wrestling team will head east to take on a ranked Big Ten foe, this time heading to State College to challenge the four-time defending national champions and sixth-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions. The two teams will hit the mat at Rec Hall at 1 p.m. CT this Sunday.
Minnesota improved to 9-0 (5-0) last week when the Gophers knocked off No. 9 Illinois, 20-19, in a thrilling dual at the Sports Pavilion that featured an incredible, last-minute comeback from No. 1 Chris Dardanes at 133, as well as major decisions (and critical bonus points) from No. 1 Scott Schiller and No. 12 Michael Kroells at 197 and 285, respectively. With the win, Minnesota improved its current dual match winning streak to 16. The team has now won 28 of its last 29 duals.
Penn State is 8-1 (4-1) this season, suffering its lone loss against Ohio State, 22-15, two weeks ago in Columbus. Prior to that defeat, the Nittany Lions had built a 6-0 record, beating three ranked opponents – Lehigh, Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech – in the process. Penn State’s loss to the Buckeyes is sandwiched between a pair of Big Ten wins on each side, with victories over Maryland and Indiana prior to that dual and wins over Rutgers and Purdue since. Outside of dual competition, Penn State won the team championship at the prestigious Southern Scuffle for the fifth consecutive year. At least one PSU wrestler placed at every weight class except 165, though no Nittany Lion grappler claimed an individual crown in the event.
Minnesota leads the all-time, head-to-head series, 15-6-1. Penn State’s most-recent victory over Minnesota came in February 1998, when the Nittany Lions knocked off the Gophers 21-13 in State College. Since that dual, Minnesota has built a 12-match unbeaten streak (11-0-1) against Penn State, the third-longest, active unbeaten streak Minnesota currently holds against a Big Ten opponent (Indiana, 30, and Northwestern, 13, are longer). The February 2011 dual between the Gophers and the Nittany Lions marks the last time either team officially recorded a tie in a dual meet.
These two teams met most recently last February at the Sports Pavilion, a dual which Penn State entered as the nation’s top-ranked team. In front of a raucous, sold-out crowd, the Gophers upset the Lions, 18-17, fueled by six points from Dylan Ness after he pinned Dylan Alton at 157 and sealed by Tony Nelson’s 6-0 decision over Jon Gingrich at heavyweight in the night’s final match.
Looking ahead to Sunday, there are three probable rematches from last year’s dual on the bout card. At 157, Ness will put his No. 1 ranking and 21-0 record on the line against ninth-ranked Alton. At 197, No. 1 Scott Schiller will look to avenge a 7-1 loss to No. 6 Morgan McIntosh from last year’s dual. That defeat was the first loss of the season for Schiller, who had his 24-match winning streak snapped.
More accurately categorized as the latest installment in a long-standing rivalry than simply a rematch, No. 3 Logan Storley will take on No. 4 Matt Brown at 174. Storley knocked off Brown, 8-4, in last year’s dual, but that meeting was just one of four between the pair last season. Storley also defeated Brown, 3-1, in sudden victory overtime at the NCAA Championships, while Brown defeated Storley at both the Southern Scuffle and the Big Ten Tournament, 3-2 and 2-1, respectively. Sunday’s will be the eighth collegiate match between the two, a series Brown currently leads 4-3. Among all of those matches, the only time either has scored bonus points was two years ago at the Southern Scuffle, when Storley pinned Brown at 4:06.
In addition to rematches, five additional wrestlers who competed in last year’s dual will be back this year – No. 1 Chris Dardanes (133) and No. 4 Nick Dardanes (141) for Minnesota, both wrestling down a weight class from last year, and No. 9 Jimmy Gulibon (133), No. 18 Zack Beitz (149) and Jon Gingrich (285) for Penn State.
Sunday’s dual will be available to stream live on BTN Plus beginning at 1 p.m. CT. BTN Plus requires a user subscription to stream live events. For updates throughout the dual, follow Gopher Wrestling on Twitter. A full recap of the meet will be available on GopherSports.com shortly after the event concludes.