Nick Wanzek’s first career dual match pin blew open a tight contest between No. 21 Minnesota (5-5, 1-1) and Maryland (3-6, 0-3) on Friday night, positioning the Gophers to pull away from the Terrapins for a 26-12 victory. The win levels the Gophers record for the season, both overall and in the Big Ten, and builds momentum for the team’s trip to Nebraska this Sunday.
“I think we made some progress from last time. That’s the thing we’re looking for,” said Head Coach J Robinson. “Our guys wrestled harder. They’re learning how to focus and push through some adversity. This is good. It’ll be really good to see how we perform Sunday against Nebraska.”
Wanzek’s pin was one of four wins for the Gophers following the halftime intermission, and the first of three bonus point victories during that stretch. Those bonus points transformed a nail-biter, one in which the score was knotted at nine at halftime, into a blowout.
Wanzek’s pin came in the second period of his 174-pound match against Josh Snook. Leading 2-0 early in the second period, Wanzek scored a reversal on Snook, coming out on top with Snook’s back exposed to the mat. Waznek got his weight over Snook’s shoulder and chest and, within 10 seconds of the reversal, earned the pin and six team points for the Gophers, which tripled Minnesota’s lead from three to nine.
Brandon Krone staked the Gophers to that three point lead by breaking the deadlock coming out of the intermission with an 8-3 decision over Brendan Burnham. Krone’s victory improved his career Big Ten record to 2-0 after winning his conference debut four weeks ago.
Following Chris Pfarr’s 6-2 loss at 184 pounds, the Gophers two highest-ranked wrestlers each earned major decision to finish the dual with a flourish. First, at 197 pounds, No. 4 Brett Pfarr built an 11-4 lead through two periods before riding out Garrett Wesneski in the third period, notching the riding time point and sealing a 12-4 victory. The win is Pfarr’s fourth consecutive bonus point win in dual matches, a streak that includes three major decisions and a pin. In the night’s final match, No. 7 Michael Kroells also used a late ride out to secure the riding time point in his match against Youssif Hemida, giving him a 10-2 win.
The evening began with the career dual debut of redshirt freshman Steve Polakowski at 125 pounds. Polakowski made the most of the opportunity to join the starting lineup, winning a convincing 7-1 decision over Michael Beck to get the Gophers on the board first.
Maryland took its only lead of the dual after the next match. Tyler Goodwin, wrestling in place of ranked 133-pounder Geoffrey Alexander, pinned Sam Brancale in the second period of their match, swinging the scoreboard into Maryland’s favor, 6-3.
Minnesota evened the match and jumped back in front of the Terps with a pair of decisions at 141 and 149 pounds. First, No. 10 Tommy Thorn picked up a 9-2 decision, followed by No. 9 Jake Short’s five-point third period to knock off Wade Hodges, 6-2.
The lone ranked wrestler in Maryland’s lineup on Friday night, No. 18 Lou Mascola, eeked past Brandon Kinglsey, 3-2, in their 157-pound match. That result tied the dual at nine heading into halftime.
The win on Friday improved Minnesota’s all-time record against Maryland to 3-1, including a 2-0 record as Big Ten opponents. The win also kept Minnesota from starting the conference season 0-2, something that has not happened in more than a decade.
The Gophers will look to build on Friday’s victory with a second conference win this weekend as the team travels to Lincoln for a Sunday matinee against No. 9 Nebraska. That dual is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. and will be streamed live on BTN Plus.
#21 Minnesota 26, Maryland 12
125 Steve Polakowsk (Minn) dec. Michael Beck (Mary) 7-1
133 Tyler Goodwin (Mary) fall Sam Brancale (Minn) 4:27
141 #10 Tommy Thorn (Minn) dec. Alfred Bannister (Mary) 9-2
149 #9 Jake Short (Minn) dec. Wade Hodges (Mary) 6-2
157 #18 Lou Mascola (Mary) dec. Brandon Kingsley (Minn) 3-2
165 Brandon Krone (Minn) dec. Brendan Burnham (Mary) 8-3
174 Nick Wanzek (Minn) fall Josh Snook (Mary) 3:33
184 Jaron Smith (Mary) dec. Chris Pfarr (Minn) 6-2
197 #4 Brett Pfarr (Minn) maj. dec. Garrett Wesneski (Mary) 12-4
Hwt #7 Michael Kroells (Minn) maj. dec. Youssif Hemida (Mary) 10-2