Minnesota (6-5, 5-4) wraps up its 2016-17 regular season with its shortest road trip of the season, a three-hour drive down I-35 to Ames, where the Gophers will take on Iowa State (1-7, 1-6). The Gophers will look to extend their winning streak against the Cyclones to five in a row and, in the process, completed an undefeated season on the road (5-0), something the program last achieved in 2012-13.
Sunday’s dual will begin at 2 p.m. Central from the Hilton Coliseum in Ames. A live stream of the dual will be available in the premium area of Cyclones.com. Free options to keep tabs on the action include live stats via TrackWrestling.com or following Gopher Wrestling on Twitter (@GopherWrestling). For updates throughout the match
Minnesota completed the most challenging home schedule in the nation last weekend with a tight loss to Ohio State, a dual in which the teams split the bouts and bonus points broke the tie. That came on the heels of a loss to Iowa that followed 21- and 17-point wins over Indiana and Purdue on the road, respectively. During its three-match homestand in early January, Minnesota picked up a victory over No. 21 Wisconsin between losses to No. 3 Penn State and No. 5 Nebraska. In the previous calendar year, Minnesota swept road matches in Michigan after splitting non-conference duals in November against No. 1 Oklahoma State and No. 20 South Dakota State.
Mixed into their dual schedule, Minnesota wrestled at 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 again.
Meanwhile, it has been a challenging year for Iowa State, which enters Sunday’s matinee with just one win on the season, a 19-16 victory over Northern Colorado in late November. Three of Iowa State’s seven dual defeats have been by four points or fewer, including a two-point loss at West Virginia last weekend, and a three-point loss at North Carolina in January. The Cyclones have been held under 10 points in just three of those losses – all to ranked opponents (South Dakota State, Oklahoma State and Iowa).
Like the Gophers, the Cyclones were at the Cliff Keen Invitational in December, where Iowa State took 12th. Four Cyclone wrestlers reached the podium, led by a fourth-place finish (Weatherspoon). State also wrestled at Midlands, where the team once again finished 12th. Three placewinners in that event were led by Weatherspoon, who finished second.
Marquee Match: A redshirt senior and a true freshman will square off in a ranked-versus-ranked match at 133 pounds when No. 10 Earl Hall challenges No. 17 Mitch McKee. In his true freshman season, McKee has seen plenty of ranked competition. Sunday’s match will be his 14th against a ranked opponent (tied with Michael Kroells for most on the team) and his ninth against a top-team wrestler, the most of anyone in the lineup.
Last Time Around: Minnesota’s biggest win of last season came against Iowa State at Williams Arena to finish the season. After trading decisions, Minnesota won three straight heading into halftime, including back-to-back pins from Jake Short and Brandon Kingsley (who have since flipped weights), giving the Gophers an 18-3 lead at the break. Second half wins for Nick Wanzek, Brett Pfarr (major) and Michael Kroells (tech fall) helped Minnesota pile up the points and win, 30-10.
Series History: The head-to-head series between these two regional rivals turns the big 6-0 this weekend, at least in the sense that it’s the 60th all-time meeting. Iowa State leads Minnesota through those first 59, 36-21-2, though Minnesota has rattled off four straight over the Cyclones. ISU’s last win in the series came back in 2009-10.
Parting Shot: After celebrating its own Senior Day last Sunday, Minnesota will be the visitor for Iowa State’s Senior Day this weekend. The label will take on a more literal meeting for this upcoming dual, when 10 seniors wrestle between the two teams. Three will be Gophers: Brandon Kingsley, Brett Pfarr and Michael Kroells, while a staggering seven will wrestle for Iowa State. Two matches – 149 pounds and heavyweight – will be all-senior affairs.