Since the 1991-92 season, the Gophers have not wrestled any non-conference opponent more often that Oklahoma State. The Gophers and the Cowboys will get reacquainted once again this Sunday afternoon at the Sports Pavilion in the 29th dual between the two programs in the past 25 years. As is often the case, both teams bring national rankings to the mat, with Minnesota currently ranked No. 10 by InterMat and Oklahoma State owning the top ranking across all major national polls.
Sunday’s match will get started at 1 p.m. Central at the Sports Pavilion. Fans will be able to stream the action live on BTN Plus or keep tabs on the latest updates by following Gopher Wrestling on Twitter (@GopherWrestling). Live stats will also be available on TrackWrestling.com.
Both teams enter Sunday’s match 1-0 in duals, though how those first duals fit their schedules was different.
Oklahoma State opened with a dual on Nov. 6 against Bucknell, a 36-3 drubbing. Meanwhile, the Gophers just began their dual season last weekend with an 18-17 win over No. 20 South Dakota State. A sweep of the last four matches against the Jackrabbits slingshot Minnesota to victory.
The Cowboys’ starters also wrestled at the Outlaw Open, an event in which OK State swept titles at all 10 weights. Meanwhile, Minnesota starters have competed in two tournaments – the Daktronics Open and the Collegiate Classic – taking home five individual titles.
The same two weights featured as marquee matches last Saturday again showcase some of the top pairings this week.
At 174, No. 18 Nick Wanzek will see his first top-five opponent of the season in No. 4 Kyle Crutchmer in the first ever meeting between the two. At 197, No. 2 Brett Pfarr will lock up with No. 6 Preston Weigel. Pfarr shut out Weigel, 5-0, in the first round of last year’s NCAA tournament.
Last Time Around
Thanks to a major decision at 133 and upsets from Jake Short and Brandon Kingsley, Minnesota led 10-6 halfway through last November’s dual in Stillwater. Three straight wins for the Pokes put them ahead, 20-10, and victories from Brett Pfarr and Michael Kroells weren’t quite enough as the Cowboys held on, 20-17.
Rank and File
As many as a dozen ranked wrestlers will be on the mat Sunday. The Gophers have three ranked competitors, all among their upper-weights: No. 14 Nick Wanzek at 174 pounds, No. 2 Brett Pfarr at 197 and No. 5 Michael Kroells at 285. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State has a ranked wrestler at the first nine weights in its lineup, with the only hole at heavyweight.
Sunday’s dual will be the 36th all-time between the Cowboys and the Gophers. OK State owns a 23-12 lead. Minnesota has won four of the past six contests between the two, including the last meeting in Minneapolis, a 19-15 Gopher victory in 2014.
There’s No Place Like Home
Sunday’s dual against top-ranked Oklahoma State is the second of seven home contests for the Gophers this year. All seven of those matches will be against opponents currently ranked in the NWCA’s top 20, making it one of the most challenging home slates in the nation. After welcoming No. 20 South Dakota State last weekend, the Gophers will host the top four teams from the latest NWCA poll, as well as No. 7 Nebraska and No. 18 Wisconsin. Heading into this season, Minnesota has not lost more than one home dual in a season since 2010-11.
The Minnesota/Oklahoma State series has been marked by greatness. The individual wrestlers who have competed for both sides are among the greatest of their generations. The teams have combined to win eight national titles in the past quarter-century and also finished second a combined 10 times. The duals themselves have been great as well, often settled by narrow margins. In fact, looking at the past 12 duals in the series, the team score is perfectly even, 204-204.
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