Gophers Race Past Hoosiers
Four consecutive bonus points wins to start Sunday’s dual staked Minnesota to a large early lead, and consistent performances throughout the lineup sealed the victory
The Gophers made themselves at home in Bloomington despite not visiting Indiana in the past four years, picking up bonus points in each of the afternoon’s first four matches to spark a 28-9 win. It’s the 31st win for Minnesota in its last 33 head-to-head matches against the Hoosiers.
“We had a great start, beginning with Brett (Pfarr) and Michael (Kroells) setting a strong pace right away and it continued to roll from there,” said head coach Brandon Eggum. “I thought up and down the line, we were very aggressive and scored a lot of points. That’s what we talk about all the time with the guys, so it was great to see.”
It began with No. 2 Brett Pfarr and his relentless pressure on Norman Conley in a 24-9 victory. In a bit of a rarity, Pfarr picked up the tech without any back points – instead scoring 11 takedowns, an escape and the riding time point. Fellow senior, No. 8 Michael Kroells, followed with a tech fall of his own, 21-6, over Fletcher Miller. No. 6 Ethan Lizak finished the three-match flurry with a 15-0 shutout over Liam Cronin. Lizak’s approach was the exact opposite of Pfarr’s. Lizak picked up 10 of his 15 points on tilts, doing almost all of his scoring on the mat from the top position.
Minnesota had not earned three tech falls in a dual since January 17, 2014, against Michigan State.
The Gophers kept rolling into 133 pounds, where No. 16 Mitch McKee added bonus points and pitched the second straight shutout for Minnesota, an 8-0 major decision. McKee’s was the fourth straight bonus point win for Minnesota, the first such streak the team has put together in a dual since Feb. 8, 2015 against Maryland.
“Lizak did a phenomenal job scoring a ton of points in his match and McKee kept the pressure high,” said Eggum. “We talked about leadership on the mat and the way they wrestle their matches carries over to the next guy. They showed the power of that today. Wrestling like that sends a message to the other team and to the rest of our lineup.”
No. 13 Tommy Thorn pushed the Gophers to a perfect 5-0 on the day with another shutout win, a 4-0 decision. Not only did he keep his opponent, Cole Weaver, off the board, Thorn’s bout was the fifth straight in which Minnesota did not surrender a takedown. At that point, Indiana had scored in only two matches and all of those points had come from escapes.
Indiana’s first takedown came in the opening period of the 149-pound match between Chris Perez and Carson Brolsma, a match won by Perez, 4-2, to score the first points of the afternoon for the Hoosiers.
Following the defeat, Minnesota fired back with wins at 157 and 165. No. 11 Jake Short did not allow a takedown in his match against Jake Danishek, narrowly missing out on a major decision as Danishek held on to Short’s ankle on a late takedown attempt in the 10-4 decision. No. 13 Nick Wanzek followed with a 5-4 win that was decided by the riding time point, time Wanzek built up with a strong ride in the second period.
“Today is how we should come out every single match,” said Short. “Whether you win or lose, if you come out aggressive, that’s a win in our eyes. Coaches talked about that before the match and they’ve been preaching it all year. It’s not about winning and losing. It’s about effort and attitude.”
Chris Pfarr and Devin Skatzka gave the crowd an exciting battle late in the dual, with both wrestlers scoring multiple takedowns and several close-calls for both wrestlers leading to no points. Ultimately, Skatzka held off Pfarr late to take the match, 11-8.
In the night’s closing bout, No. 7 Nate Jackson took a 10-4 decision over Bobby Steveson.
Minnesota’s 28 points on Sunday were the most the Gophers have scored so far this season. It’s the team’s best output since its regular-season finale against Iowa State last season, when Minnesota hung 30 on the Cyclones. The 19-point margin of victory is also a season-best for Minnesota and its largest since that Iowa State dual.
“Bonus points play an important role in winning and we wrestled a style that helped us scored some big bonus points today,” said Eggum.
The Gophers won’t compete again until next Sunday, when Minnesota returns to Indiana to take on Purdue. That dual is scheduled for a 12 p.m. Central start and will be streamed live on BTN Plus. Minnesota’s next home dual is still two weeks away, when the Maroon and Gold welcome archrival Iowa to the Twin Cities. Tickets for that dual are currently available on MyGopherSports.com.
#12 Minnesota 28, Indiana 9
197 #2 Brett Pfarr (Minnesota) tech fall Norman Conley (Indiana) 24-9 7:00
285 #8 Michael Kroells (Minnesota) tech fall Fletcher Miller (Indiana) 21-6 7:00
125 #6 Ethan Lizak (Minnesota) tech fall Liam Cronin (Indiana) 15-0 5:58
133 #16 Mitch McKee (Minnesota) maj. dec. Garrett Pepple (Indiana) 8-0
141 #13 Tommy Thorn (Minnesota) dec. Cole Weaver (Indiana) 4-0
149 Chris Perez (Indiana) dec. Carson Brolsma (Minnesota) 4-2
157 #11 Jake Short (Minnesota) dec. Jake Danishek (Indiana) 10-4
165 #13 Nick Wanzek (Minnesota) dec. Bryce Martin (Indiana) 5-4
174 Devin Skatzka (Indiana) dec. Christopher Pfarr (Minnesota) 11-8
184 #7 Nathan Jackson (Indiana) dec. Robert Steveson (Minnesota) 10-4