The Gophers are set to head to Brookings, S.D. to start their season at the Daktronics Open Sunday. In what is becoming an annual appearance for the Gophers, 33 wrestlers will travel to the tournament to begin the 2018-19 season.
Minnesota came away with three champions from the tournament a season ago. Ethan Lizak and Mitch McKee will return to the tournament as defending champions while Nick Wanzek claimed the title at 165 pounds. Lizak is a two-time Daktronics champion after placing first at the last two consecutive tournaments in Brookings. Lizak most recently reached the top of the podium with an unblemished 4-0 record that included a victory in the title match over Patrick McKee, who is now a Gopher teammate. Mitch McKee also claimed a Daktronics title with a 4-0 record. McKee gained a major decision and three falls at the tournament, including a pin in 2:26 in the title match.
Four returning Gophers placed second in Steve Polakowski, Tommy Thorn, Steve Bleise and Reily Streifel. Seven other returning Gophers placed in the top-six of their respective weight classes: Hunter Marko (sixth), Alex Crowe (fifth), Miles Patton (fourth), Brandon Krone (fourth), Owen Webster (third), Dylan Anderson (fourth), and Chase O’Connor (fifth).
Sean Russell and Devin Skatzka are set to make their debuts in a Maroon & Gold singlet at the tournament after transferring to Minnesota in the offseason. All eight incoming freshman will represent the Gophers for the first time as collegiate wrestlers at the tournament as well. Patrick McKee, Jake Gliva, Brayton Lee, Kasper McIntosh, Ryan Thomas, Caden Steffen, Garrett Joles, and Gable Steveson will see their first collegiate action on the mats in Brookings.
Matches are set to begin at 9 a.m. on Sunday morning. Fans can follow live statistics for all tournament matches at FloWrestling.com. For updates throughout the day about how Gopher wrestlers are faring, follow the Gophers on Twitter.