Gophers Power Past Air Force
Three victories at crucial times, most notably a pin by Brandon Kingsley at 157 pounds, led the Gophers to a 22-12 win against Air Force
Returning to the Sports Pavilion for the first time this season, the Gophers took six matches and scored key victories at 157, 184 and 197 pounds to ground the Air Force Falcons, 22-12, on Saturday night. The victory pushed the Gophers record back above .500 (4-3) and improved on a perfect home ledger so far this season (4-0).
”We made a little bit of progress over last week and that’s what we’re trying to do,” said Head Coach J Robinson. “The season’s pretty young. We’re only in our third week but we made a little bit of progress. It’ll be interesting because next week we’re going to have Oklahoma State. … It’ll give us a good indication of where we really are.”
Brandon Kingsley’s first-period fall at 157, scored just 48 seconds into his match with Zach Stepan, broke open a dual that had been tightly contested to that point. The teams were tied at six when Kingsley took the mat and attacked Stepan aggressively from the match’s opening whistle. Within seconds of scoring the bout’s first takedown, Kingsley locked in a cradle on Stepan and held tightly as he maneuvered him to his back for the pin. The fall vaulted the Gophers ahead by six points, 12-6, as the teams headed to the locker room for the halftime intermission.
“I knew his basic strategy was going to be to go for that low shot. I felt like when he knew that I countered that shot right away, he kind of felt off and I was able to get to my offense incredibly fast,” said Kingsley. “It was an opposite side shot, which I’m normally used to, but I still was able to get him down and start working my top position where I’m most comfortable.”
A pair of losses at 165 and 174 erased the Gopher lead and left the dual tied at 12 with three matches remaining. At 184, Chris Pfarr and Anthony McLaughlin were even after seven minutes of regulation and headed to sudden victory overtime. With the two trading escapes in tiebreakers after a scoreless overtime, they headed to a second sudden victory period and, eventually, a second set of tiebreakers. After four minutes of overtime and tiebreakers, at the start of which riding time is reset, Pfarr had a 0.4 second riding time advantage, which is the deciding factor in NCAA matches tied after 11 minutes of wrestling. That narrow advantage gave Pfarr an 8-7 win, a crucial victory to give the Gophers the lead and the momentum with two matches remaining.
“I knew I had to grind it out. I feel like my conditioning is better than most people’s, so as the match goes on, it is to my advantage,” said Pfarr. “That’s what our coaches preach. The longer it goes in the match, it’s better for us because we train for those positions and that time. I wasn’t too nervous. I was just ready to go.”
Following his brother’s marathon match, No. 6 Brett Pfarr stretched his career-long varsity winning streak to 10 matches and remained undefeated on the season with a 12-4 major decision over Parker Hines. The bonus point scored in that major decision put the Gophers ahead by seven, sealing the dual prior to the night’s final match. In that contest, No. 9 Michael Kroells defeated Marcus Malecek, 9-3, the exact same score as their match when these same two teams met in Colorado Springs last November.
The dual began with the Gophers trading victories with the Falcons for the first four matches. Skyler Petry put Minnesota in front with a 9-7 decision at 125. Josh Martinez evened the dual with an 8-5 decision over Sam Brancale at 133 in a tight match that was ultimately decided on a third-period takedown. At 141, No. 12 Tommy Thorn fought off a late charge from David Walker to take a 12-7 decision. Air Force again fired back at 149, leveling the dual at six with an 8-3 decision from Jerry McGinty, which set the stage for Kingsley’s pin going into the break.
The Gophers’ grueling November presses forward after tonight’s victory. Minnesota will visit Stillwater next Sunday to take on No. 3 Oklahoma State, the most wrestled non-conference rivalry of the J Robinson era. That match is scheduled for 2 p.m. Central.
#22 Minnesota 22, Air Force 12
125: Skylar Petry (Minn) dec. Drew Romero (AF) 9-7
133: #13 Josh Martinez (AF) dec. Sam Brancale (Minn) 8-5
141: #12 Tommy Thorn (Minn) dec. Dave Walker (AF) 12-7
149: Jerry McGinty (AF) dec. Miles Patton (Minn) 8-3
157: Brandon Kingsley (Minn) fall Bass Zach Stepan (AF) :48
165: Alex Lopouchanski (AF) dec. Dylan Urbach (Minn) 3-2
174: Adam Jackson (AF) dec. Jordon Rothers (Minn) 5-1
184: Chris Pfarr (Minn) dec. Anthony McLaughlin (AF) 7-7 tb2
197: #6 Brett Pfarr (Minn) maj. dec. Parker Hines (AF) 12-4
285: #9 Michael Kroells (Minn) dec. Marcus Malecek (AF) 9-3