Consecutive Sunday duals in the Hoosier State produced back-to-back blowouts for Minnesota (6-3, 5-2). Wrestling in front of the home crowd for the first time in 16 days, the Gophers will host archrival Iowa (8-2, 4-1) on Sunday in the 102nd installment of the most wrestled rivalry in program history. Tickets are still available for Sunday’s dual at MyGopherSports.com.
Sunday’s dual will begin at 11 a.m. Central from the Sports Pavilion. The Gophers will be making their first television appearance of the season, as the dual will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network. For those who can’t attend live or watch on TV, live stats will be available on TrackWrestling.com and updates from throughout the day are available by following Gopher Wrestling on Twitter (@GopherWrestling).
So Far This Season
Coming off 21- and 17-point wins over Indiana and Purdue, respectively, Minnesota resumes the most challenging home schedule in the nation, hosting its sixth ranked opponent this season. Three of those came in January, when Minnesota picked up a victory against No. 21 Wisconsin between losses to No. 3 Penn State and No. 5 Nebraska. In the previous calendar year, Minnesota swept a pair of road matches in Michigan after splitting a pair of non-conference duals in November against No. 1 Oklahoma State and No. 20 South Dakota State.
Mixed into their dual schedule, Minnesota wrestled at both the Cliff Keen Invitational and the Southern Scuffle. Two Gophers (Short, B Pfarr) won titles in Vegas as the Gophers finished fourth. In Chattanooga, Minnesota produced one individual champ (Lizak) and seven placewinners, finishing fourth at the Scuffle.
Iowa began its season by defeating Iowa Central and Cornell College by a combined 100-0 at the Iowa City Duals before picking up three solid wins over Purdue, South Dakota State and Iowa State. The Hawkeyes broke from their dual meet schedule to wrestle at the Midlands, where they captured the team title along with three individual champs (Gilman, Sorensen, Kemerer). Just like the Gophers, Iowa swept through a weekend trip to Michigan before dropping consecutive duals, first at Oklahoma State, then at home to Penn State. Last week, Iowa rebounded with a 21-13 win over Ohio State.
Two top-10 matches will share Sunday’s spotlight. The first comes at 125, where No. 6 Ethan Lizak will challenge top-ranked and undefeated Thomas Gilman. Both have seven tech falls this year. Later, at 157, No. 9 Jake Short will take on No. 2 Michael Kemerer, who suffered his first loss of the season against No. 1 Jason Nolf (Penn State) on Jan. 20.
Last Time Around
At Carver-Hawkeye Arena last January, the Hawkeyes got going quickly with a pair of falls at 125 and 133 before Tommy Thorn picked up a decision to get the Gophers on the board. Iowa strengthened its lead by stringing together five straight wins after that, starting with a pair of decisions, followed by a pair of majors, then capped with a tech fall. Brett Pfarr fired back with a win over No. 3 Nathan Burak at 197 before a decision at heavyweight finished off Iowa’s 34-6 win. It is not expected than any of the ten matches from last year will be rematched on Sunday.
Sunday’s matinee is the 102nd all-time meeting between these border rivals, a series that dates back to 1921. Minnesota is 28-72-1 in the previous 101 duals, and have split the last six meetings against the Hawkeyes.
With 13 ranked wrestlers across expected to wrestle Sunday, it’s interesting to see just three weights will feature ranked-versus-ranked matches: 125, 133 and 157 pounds. Still, every single bout should feature at least one ranked wrestler, with Minnesota on the plus side of four ranked-versus-unranked matches, while Iowa will have three ranked wrestlers taking on unranked opponents.