A pair of Gopher wrestlers provided Minnesota with podium finishes at the lightest and heaviest weight classes at this weekend’s University Freestyle Nationals. Skyler Petry, who finished eighth at 57 kilograms last year, jumped to a much higher perch on the award stand this year with a third-place performance. Two-time All-American heavyweight Michael Kroells, wrestling at 125 kilograms, took sixth to give the Gophers their other top-eight finish over the weekend. In all, Minnesota had nine competitors in the field.
Petry’s path to third began in a familiar way when he scored back-to-back tech fall victories in his opening matches, just like last year. In the quarterfinals, he was tested for the first time at the event against Lorenzo Bentley, but Petry grinded his way to a 2-1 win. The 2016 NCAA champion in Petry’s collegiate weight class, Nico Megaludis, bounced Petry to the backside of the bracket in a semifinal decision. In wrestlebacks, Petry returned to his dominant form from earlier in the event, earning a second-period pin and a third, 10-0 tech fall to capture third place.
Like his much-smaller teammate, Kroells won his first three matches in Akron, powering through his opponents by a combined score of 33-9. A quarterfinal defeat against Garrett Ryan took Kroells out of championship contention, but a pair of convincing wins in wrestlebacks helped Kroells reach the fifth-place contest, where he fell in his rematch with Ryan and took sixth.
Seven other Gophers competed in the event, all wrestling freestyle.
Carson Brolsma, coming off his redshirt season, put together a solid 4-2 weekend. Brolsma won his first three matches at 70 kilograms and finished two matches shy of the podium. Chris Pfarr had a similar weekend, one in which he finished 4-2 wrestling at 86 kilograms. Pfarr fell in his second match, but put together a three-match winning streak in consolation matches.
Jake Short, James Berg, Tijani Karaborni, Faris Karaborni and Dalton Lunde also wrestled in the tournament.
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