Five current Gophers will be a part of the national wrestling bonanza taking place in Las Vegas this weekend when they compete in freestyle at the UWW Junior Nationals on Friday and Saturday. The event, which is being held in conjunction with the senior-level U.S. Open, will help determine qualifiers for the 2017 Junior Freestyle World Team Trials later this year.
The quintet of Gophers who will be competing in this year’s event are: Dylan Anderson and Jose Champagne, who redshirted this past season; Mitch McKee, who competed as a true freshman and reached the Round of 12 at NCAAs; Rylee Streifel, an Academic All-Big Ten redshirt freshman who earned his first letter this year, and; Miles Patton, who competed with the varsity team for part of the 2015-16 as a true freshman before taking a redshirt season this winter.
Two of those five will head to Vegas hoping to defend titles they earned last year.
McKee overwhelmed his opponents at 60 kilograms last year, picking up four straight tech falls (winning by a combined total of 51-8, or roughly 13-2 per match) before a fall at 2:15 of the title match. That title came on the heels of a national runner-up performance by McKee at 60 kilograms in 2015.
Streifel began his day in similarly convincing fashion at 120 kilograms, picking up a 10-0 tech fall in his opening match. He would then pick up three decisions on his way to the top of the podium, including a 10-8 thriller in the finals to cap his championship run.
While that pair defends their titles, the other three Gophers will look to reach the podium for the first time: Patton and Champagne at 70 kilograms and Anderson at 84.
A championship for any of those five would give the Gophers a title from the tournament for a third straight year. All-American Tommy Thorn, who will be a redshirt junior this fall, won the 63 kilogram championship in 2015.
Winning the Junior National Championship gives a wrestler strong position to make the Junior World Team for the United States and compete in the Junior World Championships in Finland this August. That winner is automatically placed in the best-of-three final at his weight later this year, while other competitors will have to earn their way to that final series through the Junior World Team Trials tournament. The top seven at each weight this weekend will automatically qualify for that event, which will be held in Lincoln, Neb., this June.
The competition officially begins at 11 a.m. Central on Friday morning with preliminaries and consolation matches. The afternoon session begins at 4:30 p.m. with more prelim and consolation rounds, as well as quarterfinal action. Saturday morning’s session, beginning at 11 a.m., will feature consolation matches up to the medal round, followed by the final session starting at 2 p.m. that afternoon with semifinals and all medal matches, including championship bouts.
All the action will be available on FloWrestling.org this weekend, with live streams of all mats available to those with FloPRO subscriptions, in addition to live scoring and brackets. Gopher Wrestling’s Twitter account will also be keeping tabs on U of M wrestlers in the field. Be sure to follow Gopher Wrestling on Twitter for updates and recaps.
While it is the college wrestling offseason, it’s prime season for freestyle and Greco. To stay up-to-date on how past, present and future Gophers are doing in competition this summer, or just for general news about the program, GopherSports.com is your home for Gopher Wrestling news. Be sure to follow Gopher Wrestling on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest updates.