Gophers Handle Cyclones in Final Dual
In front of a raucous crowd at Williams Arena, No. 17 Minnesota put together its most dominant performance since the season’s opening day, knocking off No. 14 Iowa State, 30-10, on Friday night. The Gophers picked up wins in seven of the night’s bouts, with back-to-back bonus point wins to cap both halves of the dual.
“I think the way [the team] wrestled was really good. … That’s the way we want to wrestle,” said head coach J Robinson. “That’s the way you want to look. You want to feel positive about what we’re doing, where we are. The hard work we’re putting in, it’s going to pay off for us.”
No. 16 Jake Short picked up his first fall since the Cliff Keen Invitational in December in the first period of his match with Dante Rodriguez. Short cinched up a cradle on Rodriguez along the edge of the mat early in the period and remained patient as his opponent fought to either free himself or get out of bounds. Short maintained control and eventually released the cradle, settling in over Rodriguez’s chest to earn the fall.
Building off the momentum his teammate created, Brandon Kingsley found himself cradling Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer in the closing seconds of the first period, a sequence that ended when time expired in the opening frame. Kingsley got a second chance though, getting back to his cradle after defending a shot from Rodriguez-Spencer midway through the second period. On this occasion, he had plenty of time on the clock and finished off the pin. It was Kingsley’s sixth fall of the season and his first to come more than 100 seconds into a match.
That 12-point surge turned what had been a 6-3 Gopher lead through three matches into a commanding 18-3 advantage through five.
That lead largely held through the first three matches after halftime, with the Gophers up 11 heading to their dependable duo at 197 pounds and heavyweight. Due to an injury to Iowa State’s regular starter at 285, the Cyclones bumped up wrestlers from lower weight classes for the final two bouts and the Gophers capitalized on these mismatches to close the dual in convincing fashion.
First, at 197, No. 3 Brett Pfarr surrendered only an escape to Patrick Downey while piling up more takedowns as the match progressed, eventually taking a 12-1 major decision. The major was Pfarr’s 13th on the season, the highest total on the team. Pfarr finishes his 31-2 regular season with more major decisions (13) than regular decisions (11).
No. 9 Michael Kroells followed with takedowns and four-point near falls in both the first and second period of his heavyweight contest, finishing off Marcus Harrington in the second period with a 15-0 tech fall. The tech was the first for Kroells since his opening match of the season at the Daktronics Open. His five team points capped the 30-10 win for the Gophers.
Prior to the consecutive pins heading into halftime, Minnesota built its early lead by taking the night’s opening match at 125 pounds, a 3-2 decision for Steve Polakowski sealed with a third-period takedown of Kyle Larson. After a 10-5 decision for No. 7 Earl Hall over Ben Morgan at 133 pounds, No. 6 Tommy Thorn put the Gophers back in front with his 4-0 decision over Nathan Boston. The win gave Thorn 30 on the season, joining Pfarr as a 30-match winner for the Gophers this season.
Following halftime, a major decision at 165 pounds gave Iowa State its only bonus points of the dual, but a win for Nick Wanzek over two-time NCAA qualifier Lelund Weatherspoon at 174 pounds recaptured any waning energy in the crowd, bringing them to their feet as Wanzek finished a late takedown to wrap up an 8-6 victory.
The 20-point margin of victory was the second-largest for the Gophers this season, trumped only by a 31-3 win against Grand Canyon in Minnesota’s first dual of the season. The difference was the largest in the Gopher/Cyclone series since a 34-6 Gopher victory in December 2011.
Friday’s contest kicked off eight high-profile duals that will be part of the NWCA National Championship Dual Series this weekend. It also marked the end of the Gophers regular season, a campaign that ends a 10-8 overall record, the 11th straight winning season for Minnesota.
Minnesota will be off next week before heading to the Big Ten Championships the first weekend in March (Mar. 5-6) in Iowa City.
Minnesota 30 Iowa Sate 10
125 – Steve Polakowski (Minn) dec. Kyle Larson (ISU) 3-2
133 – #7 Earl Hall (ISU) dec. Ben Morgan (Minn) 10-5
141 – #6 Tommy Thorn (Minn) dec. Nathan Boston (ISU) 4-0
149 – #16 Jake Short (Minn) fall Dante Rodriguez (ISU) 1:46
157 – Brandon Kingsley (Minn) fall Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer (ISU) 4:31
165 – #10 Tanner Weatherman (ISU) maj. dec.Brandon Krone (Minn) 13-2
174 – Nick Wanzek (Minn) dec. Lelund Weatherspoon (ISU) 8-6
184 – Dane Pestano (ISU) dec. Chris Pfarr (Minn) 9-2
197 – #3 Brett Pfarr (Minn) maj. dec. Patrick Downey (ISU) 12-1
285 – #9 Michael Kroells (Minn) tech fall Marcus Harrington (ISU) 15-0 6:09