With four reserve wrestlers in the starting lineup for the University of Minnesota, the Gophers dropped a close dual on Senior Day to Northwestern, 20-12 in their home finale at Maturi Pavilion.
The dual came down to the final match, with the Gophers leading by four points. Northwestern’s Ryan Deakin, who is ranked No. 5 by InterMat, pinned Ben Brancale to earn the victory for the Wildcats.
On Senior Day, the Gophers started with three seniors. Jake Short, Nick Wanzek, and Chris Pfarr were the first three to take the mat for the Golden Gophers.
“Overall I think our guys wrestled okay considering we had four starters out for this dual,” head coach Brandon Eggum said after the dual. “ I loved the way our seniors wrestled today. Short coming out and scoring big points was really impressive. Wanzek as well, he’s having a great season. I know Chris is frustrated with his loss, but I think the great things these seniors have done is they have been great leaders as far as how they live their life.”
Short began the dual with great pace, taking down Shayne Oster within 20 seconds of the match starting. Short would go straight for a turn, and scored four on the near fall, and then another with 1:20 left in the first. Short would allow Oster to escape and would take a 12-1 lead after a second takedown in the first period.
Short would go on to score 18-points on Oster, but couldn’t get up to the 15-point mark to obtain a tech fall. The 18-points for Short is a season-high for points, in his final appearance at Maturi Pavilion.
“It was awesome to just get out there and feel the support from the fans,” Short said after the dual. “I had my family here and everyone I care about and love. I just got to go out there and have fun which is all you can ask for.”
Wanzek would follow up Short with a victory at 165-pounds. The match started slow, but Wanzek came up clutch with a takedown with just seconds before the end of the first period. Wanzek would increase his lead with an escape and second takedown before a stalling point was awarded to make it 6-0 in the second.
Wanzek would go on to score another eight points in the match and earned his team-high eighth major decision of the season.
At 174-pounds, Pfarr found himself knotted in a scoreless match after the first period with No. 18 Sebastian. Pfarr earned a one-point escape, but Sebastian would strike just before the end of the second to take a 2-1 lead. Sebastian escaped to begin the third and would defend his way to a 3-1 decision after the riding point was added.
After a loss at 184-pounds by Dylan Anderson, Brandon Krone took the mat with the Gophers eight-point lead down to just two. Krone would fall behind after a takedown that stood after an Eggum challenge. Krone would escape Zach Chakonis, but another takedown just before the end of the first made it 4-1.
Krone would choose top in the second period, putting his top game to the test, giving up nearly 20-pounds to Chakonis. Krone would force two stalling calls while he rode out Chakonis in the second, and cut the lead to 4-2 at the end of the second period.
In the third, another stalling call came with short time left in the third, tying the match with the riding point at four each. Krone would use the unorthodox banana split to turn Chakonis to his back with just seconds remaining to earn a four-point near fall and the victory for the Gophers.
“I’ve tried to do that move a couple of times,” Krone said after his victory. “I do that move to return people a lot, and I pinned a kid at Cliff Keen my redshirt freshman year at the Vegas Open, so I try it often, but that was the first time I found a way to pull it off again. I was pretty excited about it.”
The Gophers would drop a pair of matches at heavyweight and 125-pounds to fall behind the Wildcats, 14-11 with just three matches to go. With four of the final six wrestlers in the top-20 rankings, the finale looked to be set up for a wild finish.
At 133-pounds, Mitch McKee would race out to an 8-1 lead by the end of the second period, using three takedowns and a two-point near fall. In the third though, No. 20 ranked Colin Valdiviez would cut the major decision down to just a decision, giving McKee the 10-7 win, thus tying the dual at 14.
All-American Tommy Thorn would push the Gophers back on top with his performance at 141-pounds. Thorn took down Alec McKenna within 15-seconds of the match starting, giving him a 2-1 lead after Thorn cut him loose midway through the first. Thorn stayed aggressive and took down McKenna two more times before the end of the first to take a 6-2 lead.
Thorn went on to pick up two more takedowns, and earned himself his team-high 16th bonus point victory of the season, and also giving the Gophers an 18-14 lead heading into the final match of the night.
Weighing in at just over 141-pounds, Brancale would be pinned by Deakin at 2:45, giving the Wildcats the dual victory and the Gophers their second home dual loss of the season.
Minnesota will shift their focus to a big stage this next Friday at Carver-Hawkeye. Minnesota will take on the Iowa Hawkeyes at 7:00 p.m. this Friday on the Big Ten Network.
No. 20 Northwestern 20, No. 14 Minnesota 18
157: No. 18 Jake Short maj dec Shayne Oster, 18-6 | Minn 4 – Northwestern 0
165: No. 7 Nick Wanzek maj dec Michael Sepke, 14-3 | Minn 8 – Northwestern 0
174: No. 18 Johnny Sebastian dec Chris Pfarr, 3-1 | Minn 8 – Northwestern 3
184: Mitch Sliga dec Dylan Anderson, 7-2 | Minn 8 – Northwestern 6
197: Brandon Krone dec Zach Chakonis, 8-4 | Minn 11 – Northwestern 6
Hwt: Conan Jennings maj dec Rylee Streifel, 11-0 | Minn 11 – Northwestern 10
125: No. 10 Sebastian Rivera maj dec Steve Polakowski, 11-3 | Minn 11 – Northwestern 14
133: No. 12 Mitch McKee dec No. 20 Colin Valdiviez, 10-7 | Minn 14 – Northwestern 14
141: No. 10 Tommy Thorn maj dec Alec McKenna, 13-3 | Minn 18 – Northwestern 14
149: No. 5 Ryan Deakin fall (2:45) Ben Brancale | Minn 18 – Northwestern 20