After a strong season that produced a collection of above-seed performances at the Big Ten and NCAA Championships, Minnesota’s season came to a ceremonial close on Sunday evening in Minneapolis at the annual team banquet. Boosters, fans, coaches and student-athletes gathered for dinner and a program that featured season highlights, individual team awards, recognition of first-time letterwinners and All-Americans, and speeches from six departing seniors.
Following a highlight video to kick off the event, the Gopher coaching staff handed out a collection of awards to Gophers wrestlers that honored a variety of accomplishments ranging from academic, to attitude, to athletic achievement. A full list of the award winners appears below.
In addition to the award winners, ovations from the audience welcomed Minnesota’s four All-Americans to the stage (Ethan Lizak, Tommy Thorn, Brett Pfarr and Michael Kroells) as well as those who earned their first letter this season (Ben Brancale, James Berg, Carson Brolsma, Mitch McKee, Bobby Steveson, Gannon Volk).
The evening wrapped up with a series of speeches, first from each of the team’s graduating seniors (Pfarr, Kroells, Sam Brancale, Jordan Bremer, Brandon Kingsley and Ben Morgan). Head Coach Brandon Eggum closed the program with his own address that briefly recapped last season and detailed his vision for the program in the coming years.
Team award winners on Sunday included:
- Upperclassmen Academic Award: Michael Kroells
- Freshmen Academic Award: Hunter Marko
- Freshman of the Year: Mitch McKee
- Most Falls: Mitch McKee
- Most Dedicated: Colin Carr
- Chris Berglin Most Improved: Chris Pfarr
- Most Exciting Wrestler: Ethan Lizak
- Fraser Dean Most Courageous: Nick Wanzek
- Verne Gagne Leadership Award: Michael Kroells
- Outstanding Wrestler: Brett Pfarr
With the team banquet now in the books, the Gophers are fully into offseason mode as wrestlers train for freestyle and Greco competitions and team sets its sights toward the 2017-18 NCAA season, which will kick off in November.