Chris Dardanes takes title at 133, giving Minnesota an individual champion at four consecutive Big Ten Championships
After two days of world-class wrestling to crown the champions of the nation’s toughest conference, Minnesota finished third at this weekend’s Big Ten Championships with 108 team points, 12 points behind co-champions Ohio State and Iowa. Eight Gophers placed in the tournament, highlighted by Chris Dardanes claiming the Big Ten title at 133 pounds.
Dardanes, who has been the nation’s top-ranked grappler at 133 for the past several months, improved to 23-0 this season by defeating Ryan Taylor of Wisconsin in the title bout, 7-2. The title match took a while to open up, as an escape by Taylor in the second period was the only point on the board heading to the final frame. In those final two minutes, Dardanes began on bottom and escaped Taylor, then finished a single-leg takedown to take a 3-1 lead. In the closing seconds of the match, Dardanes scored another takedown on a re-shot, then added two more points on a near-fall at the buzzer to cement the 7-2 final.
Dardanes’ championship gives Minnesota at least one individual champion for the fourth straight season. Dardanes becomes the first Gopher to win the Big Ten’s 133 crown since volunteer assistant coach Jayson Ness did so in 2010 en route to his national title.
Two other Gophers wrestled for championships on Sunday. First, Dylan Ness challenged Isaiah Martinez of Illinois in a match between the nation’s No. 1 and No. 2-ranked competitors at 157. In a wild match that included several swing moments on the mat as the two scrambled, Martinez got the better of Ness, 12-5. For Ness, the championship appearance was the third of his career, but his first at 157 (the first two were at 149). Later in the afternoon, Brett Pfarr took on Domenic Abounader of Michigan for the title at 184. In a match that featured several great scrambles, with each wrestler winning his share, Abounader ultimately prevailed with a takedown in the final minute of the third period, knocking off Pfarr, 7-6. Pfarr, making his first career appearance in the tournament, became the first Gopher freshman (true or redshirt) to appear in a Big Ten title match since both Ness and Logan Storley wrestled for first place at their weights in 2012.
Minnesota also claimed a pair of third-place finishes. At 141, Nick Dardanes defeated Nick Lawrence of Purdue, 3-2, in the consolation semifinals and then took a very entertaining third place match from Anthony Abidin of Nebraska, 8-6, by fighting off a shot from Abidin in the closing seconds. At 197, Scott Schiller knocked off Jeff Koepke of Illinois, 8-3, and then defeated Nathan Burak of Iowa, 3-2. Just like their match in Minneapolis earlier this season, Schiller and Burak were tied at one after the second period, but Schiller prevailed on a third period takedown.
In addition, three other Gophers placed at this year’s tournament. Storley, who was seeded fourth in the field, placed fourth at 174. Michael Kroells wrestled over his sixth seed, taking fifth at 285. Ethan Lizak, like Storley, wrestled to his seed, placing seventh at 125.
Minnesota’s third-place finish marks the 18th time in the past 19 seasons that Minnesota has placed top-three in the tournament. In 29 years under Head Coach J Robinson, this season is the 23rd in which the Gophers have been among the conference’s top three teams at the Big Ten Championships.
With Big Ten competition now complete, only one event remains on Minnesota’s 2014-15 schedule, the NCAA Championships in St. Louis. The national tournament starts on Thursday, March 19 and runs through Saturday, March 21. Seven Gophers automatically qualified for the field this weekend in Columbus. At-large bids to the NCAA field will be announced this week.
Though it will be two weeks until the Gophers hit the mat again, that doesn’t mean there won’t be news around the program. To make sure you don’t miss a thing, check on GopherSports.com and follow Gopher Wrestling on Facebook and Twitter.
Individual Match Results / Placing – Day 2
*Note: Numbers next to individuals’ names reflect their seed in this tournament, not their national ranking
125: No. 7 Ethan Lizak places seventh
7th Place Match: No. 7 Ethan Lizak (Minn) maj. dec. Garrison White (NW), 11-0
133: No. 1 Chris Dardanes places first
Finals: No. 1 Chris Dardanes (Minn) dec. No. 2 Ryan Taylor (Wis), 7-2
141: No. 2 Nick Dardanes, places third
Cons Semis: No. 2 Nick Dardanes (Minn) dec. No. 8 Nick Lawrence (PU), 3-2
3rd Place Match: No. 2 Nick Dardanes (Minn) dec. No. 3 Anthony Abidin (Neb), 8-6
157: No. 2 Dylan Ness places second
Finals: No. 1 Isaiah Martinez (Ill) dec. No. 2 Dylan Ness (Minn), 12-5
174: No. 4 Logan Storley places fourth
Cons Semis: No. 4 Logan Storley (Minn) dec. No. 6 Mark Martin (OSU), 4-1
3rd Place Match: No. 3 Mike Evans (Iowa) dec. (TB-1) No. 4 Logan Storley (Minn), 2-1
184: No. 4 Brett Pfarr places second
Finals: No. 2 Domenic Abounader (Mich) dec. No. 4 Brett Pfarr (Minn), 7-6
197: No. 3 Scott Schiller places third
Cons Semis: No. 3 Scott Schiller (Minn) dec. No. 11 Jeff Koepke (Ill), 8-3
3rd Place Match: No. 3 Scott Schiller (Minn) dec. No. 4 Nathan Burak (Iowa), 3-2
285: No. 6 Michael Kroells places fifth
Cons Semis: No. 1 Connor Medbery (Wis) dec. No. 6 Michael Kroells (Minn), 9-3
5th Place Match: No. 6 Michael Kroells (Minn) M. For. Jimmy Lawsom (PSU)