MINNEAPOLIS – The No. 9 Gopher wrestling team dropped their first match of the season Sunday afternoon to No. 2 Oklahoma State by a team score of 23-9.
The Gophers won three of the weight classes by decision.
“It’s not about winning and losing as much as it’s about competing at a high level for the entire match,” said coach Brandon Eggum.
No. 5 Gable Steveson, the top incoming freshman recruit in the nation, made his Maturi Pavilion debut against No. 3 Derek White. Within the first minute of the match, Steveson had a takedown and near fall to take a six-point advantage.
“Last year I was sitting on the bench and ready to go out there right now,” Steveson said. “This opportunity I could not pass on, I had to come out today. The vibe and feeling was crazy. The fans were crazy and I loved it.”
No. 8 Mitch McKee got the Gophers first team points of the day in his battle with Kaid Brock. McKee trailed heading into the third period but an escape at the beginning of the period followed by a clutch takedown got the Minnesota senior the minor decision and sent the home crowd into a frenzy.
“For a lot of these matches the guy who wrestled harder for seven minutes won,” McKee said. “I knew that if I wrestled as hard as I possibly could good things would happen. And they did.”
No. 11 Steve Bleise, competing with an injured hand, fell behind to Oklahoma State’s Andrew Shomers but was able to rally in the third period. Bleise took down Shomers and quickly exposed his back for crucial near fall points to secure the victory.
The Gophers started the day with Edinboro transfer and fifth-ranked Sean Russell, but he lost 3-0, unable to get a victory in his first start at home in Maroon and Gold. Fifth-year senior Ethan Lizak, who is ranked No. 6, fell behind early to Daton Fix and couldn’t muster a comeback in the 133-pound weight class.
During the 133-pound match-up, Oklahoma State was deducted a team point for misconduct by coach John Smith for questioning the referees.
Tommy Thorn, who is ranked No. 18, had plenty of scrambles in a close match-up at 149-pounds but the Cowboys’ Kaden Gfeller took home the victory. After intermission, the Gophers struggled in consecutive weight classes with Carson Brolsma, Devin Skatzka, and Owen Webster all falling in major decisions.
Brandon Krone, at 197-pounds, fell in a minor decision before Steveson closed out the match with a victory.
The attendance at Maturi Pavilion for the first home dual of the season was 3,633, something the wrestlers noticed to start the season.
“I put my head down to start the third and I could hear and feel this roar from the crowd,” McKee said. “It was awesome to feel.”
#2 Oklahoma State 23 #9 Minnesota 9
125: #4 Nick Pinccininni (Oklahoma State) dec. #5 Sean Russell (Minnesota) 3-0
133: #9 Daton Fix (Oklahoma State) dec. #6 Ethan Lizak (Minnesota) 6-1
141: #8 Mitch McKee (Minnesota) dec. #4 Kaid Brock (Oklahoma State) 6-3
149: Kaden Gfeller (Oklahoma State) dec. #18 Tommy Thorn (Minnesota) 9-3
157: #11 Steve Bleise (Minnesota) dec. #17 Andrew Shomers (Oklahoma State) 8-5
165: Chandler Rogers (Oklahoma State) maj. dec. Carson Brolsma (Minnesota) 10-2
174: Jacobe Smith (Oklahoma State) maj. dec. #20 Devin Skatska (Minnesota) 11-2
184: Dakota Geer (Oklahoma State) maj. dec. Owen Webster (Minnesota) 10-0
197: Andrew Marsden (Oklahoma State) dec. Brandon Krone (Minnesota) 2-0
285: #5 Gable Steveson (Minnesota) dec. #3 Derek White (Oklahoma State) 8-2