MINNEAPOLIS – The University of Minnesota finishes day one of the Big Ten Championships in fifth place with 76.5 team points and one Big Ten finalist in heavyweight Gable Steveson. There are still nine Gophers still in contention for qualification with a chance to wrestle tomorrow.
Penn State leads the team race with 131 points while Ohio State, Nebraska, and Iowa fill in the gap between the Nittany Lions and Gophers.
Steveson, the true freshman from Apple Valley, Minnesota, extends his winning streak to 30 victories, passing Damion Hahn, Luke Becker, and Cole Konrad for 13th place on the Gophers all-time list.
After a second technical fall of the season over Christian Colucci of Rutgers, Steveson defeated preseason-No.1 Sam Stoll, a Minnesota native, in the quarterfinals. Steveson’s night finished with a semifinal decision victory over Wisconsin’s Trent Hilger.
The last Big Ten Champion for the Gophers was 133-pound Chris Dardanes in 2015 and the last heavyweight to accomplish it was Tony Nelson in 2014.
After hosting less than 10,000 fans in 2008 when the Big Ten Championships were also in Minneapolis, the university hosted over 11,000 fans each session.
Steveson was joined by 125-pound Sean Russell, 149-pound Tommy Thorn, 157-pound Steve Bleise, and 174-pound Devin Skatzka in the semifinals. The Gophers were one of only four teams to have at least five semifinalists.
Russell, the Gophers transfer at 125-pounds, began his days with two major decisions before falling to Iowa’s Spencer Lee in the semifinals for the second time this season.
Thorn outscored his first two opponents 17-6 before dropping a narrow decision to top-seeded Anthony Ashnault of Rutgers.
Bleise electrified the crowd in the quarterfinals with a victory in extra time over third-seed Ryan Deakin, who Bleise lost to in a January dual. Just moments later, Skatzka sent Williams Arena into a second frenzy when he got payback on Nebraska’s Mikey Labriola after a February loss.
In the semifinals, Bleise fell by only three points to Nebraska’s Tyler Berger while Skatzka dropped a narrow 4-2 decision to nationally top-ranked Mark Hall.
Returning two-time All-American Ethan Lizak remains alive after he went 3-1 on the day. Lizak defeated Wisconsin’s Jens Lantz for the second time to open the tournament, but he fell to 2018 All-American Nick Suriano in the quarterfinals.
Lizak bounced back with a technical fall and a decision in the consolation bracket. He will wrestle top-ranked Stevan Micic in session three.
Minnesota’s Dylan Anderson won his first match over the Fighting Illini’s Andre Lee before dropping his following two matches.
The only Gophers to lose their first bouts were 165-pound Carson Brolsma and 184-pound Brandon Krone who both advanced to the second round of consolations in the second session.
The pair both lost twice on the first day, but remained alive due to extra NCAA Tournament allocations. Krone wrestled Saturday night while Brolsma will wrestle tomorrow morning.
All ten Gophers were still in contention on either side of the bracket entering the second session.
Minnesota resumes wrestling in the Big Ten Tournament tomorrow at Noon and the finals, third place, and fifth place matches will be wrestled in the afternoon session beginning at 3pm.
125-pound Sean Russell
Round of 16: Sean Russell major dec. (19-8) Ethan Rotondo (WIS)
Quarterfinals: Sean Russell major dec. (10-1) Drew Mattin (MICH)
Semifinals: Spencer Lee (IOWA) dec. (8-0) Sean Russell
133-pound Ethan Lizak
Round of 16: Ethan Lizak dec. (3-0) Jens Lantz (WIS)
Quarterfinals: Nick Suriano (RUT) dec. (9-2) Ethan Lizak
Cons. Round of 8 #2: Ethan Lizak tech. fall (16-0) Paul Konrath (IND)
Cons. Round of 4 #1: Ethan Lizak dec. (5-2) Ben Thornton (PUR)
141-pound Mitch McKee
Round of 16: Mitch McKee fall (4:09) Kyle Luigs (IND)
Quarterfinals: Joey McKenna (OSU) major dec. (8-0) Mitch McKee
Cons. Round of 8 #2: Mitch McKee dec. (4-2) Austin Eicher (MSU)
Cons. Round of 4 #1: Mitch McKee dec. (4-1) Max Murin (IOWA)
149-pound Tommy Thorn
Round of 16: Tommy Thorn major dec. (10-1) Jaden Enriquez (MSU)
Quarterfinals: Tommy Thorn dec. (7-5) Cole Martin (WIS)
Semifinals: Anthony Ashnault (RUT) dec. (5-1) Tommy Thorn
157-pound Steve Bleise
Round of 16: Steve Bleise dec. (8-5) Jake Danishek (IND)
Quarterfinals: Steve Bleise dec. (TB2- 7-5) Ryan Deakin (NOR)
Semifinals: Tyler Berger (NEB) dec. (6-3) Steve Bleise
165-pound Carson Brolsma
Round of 16: Joey Gunther (ILL) SV-2 (3-2) Carson Brolsma
Cons. Round of 8 #2: Te’Shan Campbell (OSU) dec. (3-1) Carson Brolsma
174-pound Devin Skatzka
Round of 16: Devin Skatzka major dec. (10-0) Jacob Covaciu (IND)
Quarterfinals: Devin Skatzka fall (7:22) Mikey Labriola (NEB)
184-pound Brandon Krone
Round of 16: Cash Wilcke (IOWA) dec. (2-1) Brandon Krone
Consolation Round of 8 #1: Brandon Krone major dec. (13-2) Kyle Janeski (UMD)
Consolation Round of 8 #2: Mason Reinhardt (WIS) dec. (2-1) Brandon Krone
197-pound Dylan Anderson
Round of 16: Dylan Anderson dec. (4-1) Andre Lee (ILL)
Quarterfinals: Kollin Moore (OSU) major dec. (12-4) Dylan Anderson
Consolation Round of 8 #2: Jake Kleimola (IND) dec. (13-4) Dylan Anderson
Heavyweight Gable Steveson
Round of 16: Gable Steveson tech. fall (21-6) Christian Colucci (RUT)
Quarterfinals: Gable Steveson dec. (5-3) Sam Stoll (IOWA)
Semifinals: Gable Steveson dec. (10-4) Trent Hilger (WIS)