2018-19 Gopher Wrestling Season Recap

The University of Minnesota wrestling team finished the latest season in program history with a 14-3 dual record and took home eighth in the nation at the 2019 NCAA Championships. It was the Gophers eighth top-ten finish in nine years and also the most successful regular season under head coach Brandon Eggum since he took over three seasons ago. The Gophers say goodbye to five senior starters but will return three All-Americans next season.

Notable Accomplishments

  • Gable Steveson was the highest placing true freshman at the 2019 NCAA Championships
  • Ethan Lizak finishes his career as the first three-time All-American since heavyweight Michael Kroells
  • Mitch McKee moved up to 19th on the Gophers all-time list with 25 career pins
  • 14 Academic All-Big Ten honorees

2019 NCAA Championships

The Maroon and Gold qualified eight wrestlers for the 2019 NCAA Championships in Pittsburgh with all eight winning a match and earning team points. The Gophers placed four on the podium in Pittsburgh including three-time honoree Ethan Lizak, and a trio of first-timers: Mitch McKee, Devin Skatzka, and Gable Steveson.

In the Bloodround (Round of 12) the Gophers had six grapplers, one of the most in the nation still in contention for All-American status.

Next season, the Gophers host the 2020 NCAA Championships at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

2019 Big Ten Championships

Williams Arena was decked out in Maroon and Gold as the Gophers hosted the Big Ten Championships for the first time since 2008. In a sold-out arena for all four sessions, Minnesota placed fourth as a team with seven wrestlers placing on the podium, led by heavyweight Gable Steveson who was the Big Ten runner-up as a true freshman.

The university’s other top-placers included Sean Russell (3rd), Ethan Lizak (3rd), Devin Skatzka (3rd), Mitch McKee (4th), Tommy Thorn (5th), and Steve Bleise (6th).

Regular Season Success

The 2018-19 season was the most successful Gophers season since Brandon Eggum took the helm before the 2016-17 campaign. With 14 dual victories and seven coming within the Big Ten, Eggum set career highs in both categories. The former Gophers legend now has 31 career dual victories with 16 coming within the Big Ten.

Even within the individual duals, Minnesota remained dominant. There were seven duals throughout the season where the Gophers’ opposition won two or less bouts.

Senior Send-Off

The Gophers bid farewell to 11 graduating seniors: Will Balow, James Berg, Steve Bleise, Brandon Krone, Ethan Lizak, Miles Patton, Skyler Petry, Steve Polakowski, Sean Russell, Rylee Streifel, and Tommy Thorn.

Due to inclement weather that forced the cancellation of the senior day dual against Rider, the seniors never got their proper farewell from the Gophers faithful.

Big Ten All-Academic

In addition to the team’s success on the mat, the Gophers had 14 student-athletes named Academic All-Big Ten for their excellent performance in the classroom. The 14 award recipients include: Will Balow, James Berg, Jakob Bergeland, Steve Bleise, Carson Brolsma, Alex Crowe, Ethan Lizak, Hunter Marko, Mitch McKee, Chase O’Connor, Bailee O’Reilly, Miles Patton, Steve Polakowski, Rylee Streifel.

The fourteen winners were the fourth most of all Gophers’ winter sports. For more information on all individual Academic All-Big Ten, click here.

Three returning All-Americans

The Maroon and Gold crowned three first-time All-Americans in Pittsburgh that will all be returning to Minnesota next season. Heavyweight Gable Steveson is only a freshman beginning his career while Mitch McKee and Devin Skatzka will be entering their final seasons.

Steveson was the highest placing true freshman in Pittsburgh with his third-place finish while McKee placed sixth and Skatzka finished eighth.

Check out Gopher Wrestling at gophersports.com and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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