Minnesota Falls to Nebraska
In a dual defined by both teams putting together runs in one half of the match, the Gophers strong start wasn’t quite enough to upend the Huskers.
The 12th-ranked Gophers opened up Friday night’s dual against No. 5 Nebraska by winning four of the night’s first five matches, building an 11-3 lead at the intermission. The Cornhuskers answered after the break, sweeping the night’s final five matches to take the dual, 21-11.
“We thought we had a great start (and) things were really in our favor, good momentum at least,” said head coach Brandon Eggum. “This was a good team, No. 5 in the country (but) we felt like this was a match that we had slip away from us. We have to keep moving forward from here, make some of the changes we talk about making and wrestle tough against Indiana.”
The dual began at 165 pounds, where No. 13 Nick Wanzek improved to 2-0 lifetime against Dustin Williams by not surrendering a takedown on his way to a 4-1 victory. Chris Pfarr followed with a 7-3 win over Justin Arthur. Like Wanzek, Pfarr did not allows a takedown to his opponent, while racking up three of his own. Pfarr’s win marks the first time he has won back-to-back dual matches since November of last season when he was wrestling at 184 pounds. He’s now 2-1 in duals since moving down to 174.
Bobby Steveson stood toe-to-toe with No. 3 TJ Dudley at 184 pounds, scoring the only takedown over the match’s final two periods in a 6-2 defeat. The two were slow to break following the final whistle and some pushing from both parties after the match led to the Gophers losing a team point for unsportsmanlike conduct and a bench warning on Nebraska.
One of the most-anticipated bouts of the night came at 197, where No. 2 Brett Pfarr and No. 7 Aaron Studebaker reprised a series that produced a 3-1 decision for Pfarr at last year’s NCAA tournament. The two provided another thriller on Friday night, one that was tied at three heading to the final 15 seconds. Pfarr got in deep on a single that Studebaker was successfully fighting off, when it appeared Pfarr broked through the defense and finished a takedown at the final horn. While the points were not awarded initially, the Gophers challenged the call, which was overturned to give Pfarr the last-second, 5-3 win.
“Brett is a veteran. When he’s out there in close matches like that, he’s very composed. To get that takedown with a second or so left was big,” said Eggum.
For much of Saturday’s heavyweight contest, it appears No. 8 Michael Kroells would fall to No. 15 Collin Jensen for the first time in five career matches. Jensen’s first-period takedown and two-point near-fall in the second put him in strong position to win, but Kroells scored a pair of takedowns on go-behinds after fending off shots from Jensen, the last coming in the match’s final 30 seconds to give Kroells the 7-6 victory. Kroells is now 5-0 lifetime against Jensen, with three of those wins coming by two points or fewer.
Following the intermission, No. 6 Ethan Lizak and No. 5 Tim Lambert continued their season series, one in which both had earned a 4-3 decision at points earlier this season. Friday’s night contest did not make it the full seven minutes, as Lambert reversed off bottom early in the second period and caught Lizak in a tough position, eventually settling in on top and earning the fall at 3:54. The match was the only one on the night not to end in a decision.
The highest-scoring affair of the dual came next at 133, where No. 16 Mitch McKee and No. 5 Eric Montoya put 19 combined points on the board. McKee successfully fought off what appeared to be a sure pin in the first period, then got into a wild scramble with Montoya where both scored reversal and nearly pinned the other in the second. Ultimately, the Husker’s returning All-American proved too much for the true freshman this time around, winning 13-6.
In the dual’s fifth straight ranked-versus-ranked match, No. 13 Tommy Thorn looked well-positioned to defeat No. 10 Colton McCrystal after building a riding time advantage and preserving it with a quick escape in the third period to go up 4-3. A late four-point move for McCrystal put him on top, and a furious push to score a match-tying takedown ran out of time for Thorn, who fell, 7-5.
Carson Brolsma hung with Collin Purinton early in their 149-pound contest, but a strong second period for Purinton doomed Brolsma, who fell, 11-4. The victory sealed the dual for Nebraska with one match remaining.
In the night’s closing bout, No. 11 Jake Short fell to No. 3 Tyler Berger, 9-2, with Berger stretching a 3-2 lead to 9-2 with a late, six-point move as Short pushed for a match-winning takedown.
Eggum summarized the dual by saying, “Some guys did some good things today, but we need to continue to be aggressive and continue to wrestle.”
Minnesota, now 4-3 overall and 2-2 in the Big Ten, hits the road tomorrow morning and will return to action Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. Central against Indiana. That match will be streamed live on BTN Plus. The Gophers next home match is two weeks from Sunday, when rival Iowa visits Minneapolis.
#5 Nebraska 21, #12 Minnesota 11
165 #13 Nick Wanzek (Minnesota) dec. Dustin Williams (Nebraska) 4-1
174 Chris Pfarr (Minnesota) dec. Justin Arthur (Nebraska) 7-3
184 #3 TJ Dudley (Nebraska) dec.Bobby Steveson (Minnesota) 6-2
1 team point deducted from Minnesota for unsportsmanlike conduct.
197 #2 Brett Pfarr (Minnesota) dec. #7 Aaron Studebaker (Nebraska) 5-3
Hwt #8 Michael Kroells (Minnesota) dec. #15 Collin Jensen (Nebraska) 7-6
125 #5 Tim Lambert (Nebraska) fall #6 Ethan Lizak (Minnesota) 3:54
133 #5 Eric Montoya (Nebraska) dec. #16 Mitch McKee (Minnesota) 13-6
141 #10 Colton McCrystal (Nebraska) dec. #13 Tommy Thorn (Minnesota) 7-5
149 Collin Purinton (Nebraska) dec. Carson Brolsma (Minnesota) 10-5
157 #3 Tyler Berger (Nebraska) dec. #11 Jake Short (Minnesota) 9-2