The Gophers and the Big Red split the dual’s 10 matches, but bonus points prove to be the difference
No. 4 Minnesota had its bid for an unprecedented fourth consecutive NWCA National Duals title ended in the quarterfinals by No. 5 Cornell on Saturday afternoon, 19-17. The loss leaves Minnesota tied for the National Duals record for consecutive championships, with three, and for overall championships, with eight. It also snaps an 11-match winning streak for the Gophers in the event.
The Gophers split the dual’s 10 matches with the Big Red, earning three decisions and adding a pair of major decisions from No. 4 Nick Dardanes at 141 and No. 14 Michael Kroells at 285. Cornell also scored bonus points in two of its five victories, both technical falls. The extra bonus points that came with those technical falls composed the difference in the dual, giving the Big Red the two extra points that made up the margin of victory.
The Gophers quickly rebounded from an 18-2 technical fall by No. 3 Nahshon Garrett over Ethan Lizak at 125 to open the dual. First, No. 1 Chris Dardanes improved to 20-0 on the season with a 7-4 decision over No. 16 Mark Grey. The win not only marked the best start to a season in Dardanes’ career, it also was his ninth victory over a ranked wrestler, which leads the team. His brother followed at 141 with a major decision, 19-10, over Logan David. Dardanes racked up points in a series of takedown-escape exchanges in the third period to earn his 33rd career major decision, most among all active Gophers.
At 149, Jake Short wrestled No. 5 Chris Villalonga tough. Each wrestler scored just one point during the match (each on an escape), but Villalonga earned a point for riding time for his time on top in the third period to defeat Short, 2-1. At 157, No. 1 Dylan Ness suffered his first loss of the season, losing a 9-3 decision to No. 6 Brian Realbuto. The loss ends the longest winning streak of Ness’ career at 26 matches.
Cornell scored its second technical fall of the dual at 165, when No. 11 Dylan Palacio defeated No. 17 Nick Wanzek, 18-2, in the third period. Just as they did after the first technical fall, the Gophers rallied to win the following match. In this case, No. 4 Logan Storley snapped the Gophers’ skid with a win at 174. He found himself tied 3-3 with No. 18 Duke Pickett after the second period, but a takedown off a re-shot early in the third period gave Storley control of the match, which he seized, spending the majority of the period riding Pickett to win, 7-5.
In a rematch from a thrilling match at the Cliff Keen Invitational earlier this season, No. 13 Brett Pfarr took on No. 1 Gabe Dean at 184. The two found themselves in several extended, exciting scrambles, but Dean came out on top more often than not, ultimately prevailing, 10-4.
The Gophers won the final two matches of the dual. The first win came at 197 from No. 5 Scott Schiller, who improved to 3-0 lifetime against No. 9 Jace Bennett, earning a 7-1 decision. The competition concluded with a major decision for No. 14 Michael Kroells at 285, a 10-1 victory over Jacob Aiken-Phillips. For Kroells, the win avenged a 7-6 loss when these two teams met in the National Dual last season.
The result concludes Minnesota’s 2014-15 dual season with a record of 12-3. With their dual season now completed, the Gophers’ next competition will be the Big Ten Championships in Columbus, Ohio two weeks from now. The tournament begins on Saturday, March 7.
#5 Cornell 19, #4 Minnesota 17
125: No. 3 Nahshon Garrett (Corn) tech fall (6:19) Ethan Lizak (Minn), 18-2 / Minnesota 0 – Cornell 5
133: No. 1 Chris Dardanes (Minn) dec. No. 16 Mark Grey (Corn), 7-4 / Minnesota 3 – Cornell 5
141: No. 4 Nick Dardanes (Minn) maj. dec. Logan David (Corn), 19-10 / Minnesota 7 – Cornell 5
149: No. 5 Chris Villalonga (Corn) dec. Jake Short (Minn), 2-1 / Minnesota 7 – Cornell 8
157: No. 6 Brian Realbuto (Corn) dec. No. 1 Dylan Ness (Minn), 9-3 / Minnesota 7 – Cornell 11
165: No. 11 Dylan Palacio (Corn) tech fall (5:47) No. 17 Nick Wanzek (Minn), 18-2 / Minnesota 7 – Cornell 16
174: No. 4 Logan Storley (Minn) dec. No. 18 Duke Pickett (Corn), 7-5 / Minnesota 10– Cornell 16
184: No. 1 Gabe Dean (Corn) dec. No. 13 Brett Pfarr (Minn), 10-4 / Minnesota 10 – Cornell 19
197: No. 5 Scott Schiller (Minn) dec. No. 9 Jace Bennett (Corn), 7-1 / Minnesota 13 – Cornell 19
285: No. 14 Michael Kroells (Minn) maj. dec. Jacob Aiken-Phillips (Corn), 10-1 / Minnesota 17– Cornell 19