Ohio State Edges Gophers
Bonus points played the role of tiebreaker after No. 12 Minnesota and fourth-ranked Ohio State split their 10 matches on Senior Day at the Sports Pavilion on Sunday afternoon. Four bonus point victories for the Buckeyes outweighed the Gophers’ pair, pushing the visitors to a 24-20 win. The match closed out the Big Ten season for both teams, with Minnesota finishing conference competition 5-4, with their four losses all coming against teams currently ranked among the country’s five best.
“It was a really good dual. We knew we had a chance to win it. The big thing that killed us was giving up some bonus points. That makes the difference,” said Head Coach Brandon Eggum. “It would have been great to get a win here at home. We could see the opening, but we didn’t capture it.”
The match began at 197 pounds, allowing the Gophers’ two senior captains to kick off a day where they, along with four fellow seniors, would be honored for their Minnesota careers. Neither disappointed the home crowd, picking up equally impressive – but very different – victories.
For the 10th time this season and the 25th time since he bumped to 197 pounds last season, second-ranked Brett Pfarr defeated a ranked opponent with his 8-6 decision over No. 4 Kollin Moore. Pfarr showed off his signature skills for the home crowd one last time, scoring off his single-leg shot and his defense, while also looking strong in scrambles with Moore.
Pfarr will finish his Gopher career undefeated in Big Ten duals at 197 pounds, with consecutive 9-0 seasons.
No. 8 Michael Kroells followed with a 20-5 tech fall over Josh Fox. The tech fall was the fifth for Kroells this season, a career-high. Those five-point wins have tended to come in clusters for the fifth-year senior. His first two this season came in back-to-back matches, with Sunday’s marking his third in his last four contests. Kroells has not been taken down in any of his past four matches, defeating his opponents by an average scored of 16-3.
“It’s hard not to look back. It’s crazy that it’s over,” said Kroells after his final career match at the Pav. “The fans have been so great. The fans will get behind me and help get me back into matches. It’s kind of sad that this is it, this is the end of my road. All I can do is move on and hope that other guys can experience what I did.”
“I can’t say enough nice things about [Kroells and Pfarr]. The way they live their lives, they’re just great leaders. They’re exactly who you want in the program. They put the team first. They could have a great couple weeks coming up here. They’re going to be missed in the future,” said Eggum of his captains.
After taking the Gophers early punch, one that put Minnesota ahead 8-0, the Buckeyes fought back with a comeback win at 125 pounds, where No. 18 Jose Rodriguez used a takedown at the third-period horn to force overtime in his match against No. 6 Ethan Lizak. Lizak, who had dealt with the flu throughout the week, showed some of the fatigue one would expect late in his match, and Rodriguez was able to pick up the winning takedown in sudden victory overtime to get Ohio State on the board. Following that bout, top-ranked Nathan Tomasello pinned No. 17 Mitch McKee late in the first period to score six for Ohio State and catapult the Buckeyes into the lead, 9-8.
Prior to intermission, No. 12 Tommy Thorn looked very strong against No. 15 Luke Pletcher, scoring the match’s only takedowns and adding the riding time point to knock off Pletcher, 7-2. The win put Minnesota on top at halftime, 11-9.
Ohio State again answered, this time at 149 where fifth-ranked Micah Jordan earned a tech fall over senior Brandon Kingsley, reclaiming the lead for the scarlet and gray with four matches remaining.
Eighth-ranked Jake Short was next up for Minnesota, which badly needed bonus points to maintain hopes of the upset. Short delivered exactly what the Gophers needed, catching Anthony DeCarlo’s arm as he scored the match’s first takedown. He quickly used that to work DeCarlo to his back and picked up the pin less than two minutes into the contest to flip a three-point deficit into a three-point lead.
“That was a great momentum swing for us. You could see it fired up the guys on the bench because we knew we had an opportunity to be in it. Short did a really good job. Whenever he focuses on the things he can control, he does a really good job,” said Eggum.
Next up at 165, Nick Wanzek allowed only a pair of escapes to Cody Burcher. Wanzek picked up a reversal midway through the second to get on top and rode strong late in the second and early in the third to build a riding time advantage. A late takedown as Burcher pressed gave Wanzek a 5-2 win.
The Gophers six-point lead was short-lived, however; as the nation’s No. 1 at 174 pounds hit the mat for Ohio State, Bo Jordan, to take on Chris Pfarr. Jordan picked up the third fall of the dual, and the second for Ohio State, to level the match at 20 with one bout remaining. At 184, last year’s 174-pound national champion, No. 10 Myles Martin, sealed the win for the Buckeyes with an 18-6 win over Bobby Steveson.
In addition to Pfarr, Kroells and Kingsley, three other Gopher seniors were a part of Sunday’s Senior Day ceremony: Sam Brancale, Jordan Bremer and Ben Morgan. In what’s become a bit of a rarity in college wrestling, all six honored wrestlers competed in at least one home dual during their careers.
Today’s dual wrapped up the Gophers’ home schedule for 2016-17, a slate that was the most challenging in the nation with all seven opponents ranked in the top 20 and five ranked in the top five. Minnesota has one dual remaining for this season, next Sunday in Ames against Iowa State.
#4 Ohio State 24 #12 Minnesota 20
197 #2 Brett Pfarr (Minnesota) dec. #4 Kollin Moore (Ohio State) 7-5
Hwt #8 Michael Kroells (Minnesota) tech fall Josh Fox (Ohio State) 20-5 (7:00)
125 #18 Jose Rodriguez (Ohio State) dec. #6 Ethan Lizak (Minnesota) 12-10 sv1
133 #1 Nathan Tomasello (Ohio State) fall #17 Mitch McKee (Minnesota) 2:53
141 #12 Tommy Thorn (Minnesota) dec. #15 Luke Pletcher (Ohio State) 7-2
149 #5 Micah Jordan (Ohio State) tech fall Brandon Kingsley (Minnesota) 22-5 (7:00)
157 #8 Jake Short (Minnesota) fall Anthony DeCarlo (Ohio State) 1:34
165 #18 Nick Wanzek (Minnesota) dec. Cody Burcher (Ohio State) 5-2
174 #1 Bo Jordan (Ohio State) fall Chris Pfarr (Minnesota) 2:15
184 #10 Myles Martin (Ohio State) maj. dec. Bobby Steveson (Minnesota) 18-6