In this week’s installment of Coach’s Corner, University of Minnesota Head Assistant Coach Brandon Eggum looks back at the Big Ten tournament performances of the five Gophers who will be competing in the 2016 NCAA Championships next week in New York City.
Four Gophers automatically qualified for the NCAA field as a result of their placement at Big Tens. Captains Brett Pfarr and Michael Kroells paced all Gophers with third-place finishes. Pfarr went 4-1, suffering his only defeat in overtime of his semifinal match before defeating a pair of top-ten opponents to close out his tournament. Kroells twice outlasted Rutgers’ Billy Smith in tiebreakers on his way to third place, a finish two spots higher than his fifth-place weekend last season.
Tommy Thorn placed fourth in his first conference tournament, fighting his way to the third-place match after an upset in the quarterfinals. Nick Wanzek also automatically qualified for the national tournament by placing ninth. Both Thorn and Wanzek will be making their NCAA debuts next week.
Despite placing seventh, Jake Short had to wait until at-large selections were announced for NCAAs to know he would be in the 149-pound bracket in New York. Short’s body of work throughout the season, which included wins over five NCAA qualifiers, earned him a spot in the field. Like Thorn and Wanzek, this season’s NCAA tournament will be the first for Short.
The NCAA Championships begin next Thursday, Mar. 17, and run through Mar. 19 at Madison Square Gardens.
Coach’s Corner is a weekly series that debuts every Wednesday. Fans can find the latest episodes here on GopherSports.com and on the 2015-16 Gopher Wrestling playlist on YouTube. For all the latest news around the program, keep it tuned to GopherSports.com and be sure to follow Gopher Wrestling on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.