Gophers Send Four to NCAA Quarterfinals

In addition to four Gopher seniors advancing to tomorrow’s quarterfinals, seven Minnesota wrestlers are still alive in the tournament

Minnesota wrapped up the first day of competition at the 2015 NCAA Championships with four wrestlers advancing to Friday morning’s quarterfinals. Three additional Gophers survived the first day and will work their way through wrestlebacks. With 14 team points, Minnesota sits in 11th place after the tournament’s first two sessions, nine points behind first-place Ohio State and 5.5 points outside of the top three, where Minnesota has placed the last three seasons.

Chris Dardanes, the top seed at 133, started his tournament off with a 6-1 decision over Connor Schram (Stanford) before edging Mackenzie McGuire (Kent State) in a hard-fought, 3-1 match. Tied at one, Dardanes did what he has done in so many matches this season and won the third period, securing the bout’s only takedown midway through the final frame. With his two wins today, Dardanes is now 25-0 this season. That 25-match winning streak is the 17th-longest in Minnesota history. He will face Kevin Devoy (Drexel) in tomorrow’s quarterfinals.

Minnesota GophersDylan Ness opened his bid for a fourth All-American season with a pair of major decisions at 157, notching bonus points for Minnesota in convincing style. Ness opened with an 11-2 victory over Brandon Zeerip (Eastern Michigan) before hitting 11 again in the second round against Chad Walsh (Rider) in an 11-3 win. Today’s victories give Ness his first career 30-win season. He will go for No. 31 tomorrow morning in the quarterfinals against Brian Murphy (Michigan). Ness pinned Murphy at 4:33 of their match during a January dual in Minneapolis.

At 174, Logan Storley took a high-scoring, 11-9 decision from Brian Harvey (Army) in the opening round before knocking off Zach Brunson (Illinois) for the third time this season. That 4-0 decision marked the 116th career victory for Storley in the Maroon and Gold, which moves him into 20th on Minnesota’s all-time wins list, nudging him ahead of Assistant Coach Brandon Eggum (115). In tomorrow’s quarterfinals, Storley will look to avenge two overtime losses this season when he faces Mike Evans (Iowa) for the eighth time in his collegiate career.

Scott Schiller finished his first day without allowing a takedown (a feat matched by Dardanes and Ness). Schiller began by defeating Bryce Barnes (Army), 7-2, then faced Cody Crawford (Oregon State) for the second time this season. Like their previous meeting in Hawaii, Schiller left the mat with a major decision, this time a 10-1 victory. Like Storley, each win inches Schiller up the Gophers’ all-time wins list. He sits one behind Storley at 115, putting him in a four-way tie for 21st. Also like Storley, Schiller will have a chance to avenge a loss from earlier this season in the quarterfinals when he takes on Kyle Snyder (Ohio State).

Two other Gophers began their tournaments with opening round wins. Nick Dardanes defeated Steven Rodrigues (Illinois), 8-4, before falling to Chris Mecate (Old Dominion) in the second round of the 141 bracket. At 285, Michael Kroells looked strong in a 6-2 victory over Garrett Ryan (Columbia) before losing a tough bout against Jimmy Lawson (Penn State), 5-2. Dardanes and Kroells will both begin tomorrow’s morning session in the second round of wrestlebacks – Dardanes against Josh Dziewa (Iowa) and Kroells against Brooks Black (Illinois).

At 125, Ethan Lizak dropped his first career NCAA tournament match when he fell to Ben Willeford (Cleveland State), 8-4, but rebounded in the first round of wrestlebacks with a convincing 8-3 decision over Joe DeAngelo (N.C. State). Lizak will take on Josh Martinez (Air Force) in his next match.

After an opening-round upset at the hands of Scott Patrick (Davidson), Brett Pfarr notched a win in a consolation pigtail over Jack McKeever (Binghampton) before falling to Hayden Zillmer (North Dakota State) in wrestlebacks.

Tomorrow’s action begins with Session III at 10 a.m. CT. That session will feature quarterfinals matches on the championship side of the bracket and both the second and third rounds of wrestlebacks. Session III will be broadcast on ESPNU and all mats will be available to stream live on ESPN3. Tomorrow’s evening session will begin at 7 p.m. CT and include the semifinals on the championship side and the next two rounds of wrestlebacks. The semifinals will be broadcast on ESPN and, like the earlier session, all mats will be available to stream live on ESPN3.

Visit The Guillotine College Tournament Time Page for brackets, results, and live video links.

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