Tommy Thorn’s first-place finish at 63 kg in the Junior National Championships headlined a weekend in which 10 current and former Gophers placed in national competitions
10 current and former Gophers placed after two days of junior- and senior-level competitions in Las Vegas featuring the best grapplers in the United States. In all, 13 wrestlers with collegiate ties to Minnesota competed at the ASICS U.S. Senior Open (both freestyle and Greco) and the Junior National Championships-UWW Age Group (freestyle).
Tommy Thorn led the corps of six current Gophers competing in the junior tournament by capturing the title at 63 kilograms. Thorn’s path to the championship began with a pair of tech falls before a pair of lower scoring decisions in his quarterfinal and semifinal bouts. In the finals, Thorn needed almost every one of the 14 points he scored – the most he scored in any single match of the competition – to hold off Samuel Crane, 14-11, and claim the top spot on the podium.
In addition to Thorn, three other Minnesota wrestlers placed at their weights: Ethan Lizak (sixth at 55 kg), Colin Carr (seventh at 79 kg) and Chris Pfarr (eighth at 84 kg). All six Gophers in the field – the four placewinners plus Skyler Petry (55 kg) and Steve Polakowski (60 kg) – won at least two matches while in Vegas, combining to post a .621 winning percentage against the elite, national field.
On the senior side, Dustin Schaltter and Pat Smith paced the seven former Gophers with second-place finishes. Schlatter marched to the freestyle finals at 70 kg with four consecutive tech falls, piling up a collective 42-0 margin between himself and his opponents, before falling to Nick Marable in the title match, 4-2. It was the first time in his last nine competitive contests that Schlatter allowed his opponent to score points. Smith’s runner-up finish came on the Greco-Roman side at 71 kg, where a tech fall in the quarters and a pin in the semis gave him a shot at the title. Smith dropped a 7-2 decision to Justin Lester in the finals.
Current volunteer assistant coach Jayson Ness (seventh at 65 kg) and graduate assistant Tony Nelson (eighth at 125 kg) both placed in freestyle as well, and Alec Ortiz (71 kg) finished fourth in Greco.
To stay updated on what’s happening with current and former Gophers as they compete throughout the summer, be sure to regularly look for coverage on GopherSports.com and follow Gopher Wrestler on Facebook and Twitter.