Competing in its second, nationally elite tournament in the last month, Minnesota placed sixth at last weekend’s Southern Scuffle in Chattanooga, Tenn. The Gophers were led by four wrestlers who placed in the tournament: Brett Pfarr (second at 197 pounds), Michael Kroells (third at 285), Tommy Thorn (fifth at 141) and Sam Brancale (eighth at 133).
Both Pfarr and Kroells went 5-1 over the course of two days in Tennessee. Pfarr looked dominant throughout the tournament, posting more points in his first match (18) than he allowed his opponents in all six of his matches combined (17). Pfarr knocked off two ranked wrestlers, including upsetting No. 3 Conner Hartmann (Duke), before falling 3-2 in the championship bout to No. 1 Morgan McIntosh (Penn State). Like Pfarr, Kroells defeated a pair of ranked opponents, including avenging a loss earlier this season to No. 10 Max Wessell (Lehigh) with a big throw to win their consolation semifinal match in sudden victory overtime.
In addition to the four Gophers who placed at the Scuffle, four more – Steve Polakowski (125), Ethan Lizak (125), Brandon Kingsley (157) and Nick Wanzek (174) all reached Round of 12 matches, coming up just one match short of clinching top-eight finishes. Lizak wrestled unattached in the tournament, preserving his redshirt this season.
Minnesota returns to dual action this Friday when the Gophers host Maryland at 8:00 p.m. CT. Friday’s contest will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network.