With the 2019-20 season now suddenly in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look back at our seven seniors who have closed out their careers in Maroon and Gold.
With over 300 combined victories, 150 bonus point victories, and 13 NCAA Tournament qualifications, this senior class has left an indelible mark in program history.
Now, we take a look at each individual Gophers senior and the accomplishments they racked up in Dinkytown. Plus, their thoughts on what wearing the Maroon and Gold singlet so special.
A St. Michael native and 2019 All-American for “The U,” Mitchell McKee has been one of the most exciting wrestlers for the university throughout his time in Maroon and Gold as a four-time NCAA Qualifier. A high-flying style boosted by his freestyle success on the international stage, McKee consistently delighted Gopher fans as he finishes his career the team’s active leader in victories and pins with 91 wins and 33 pins.
Mitch McKee on being a Gopher: “My journey as a Gopher wrestler started long ago when I was cheering in the stands for guys like Mike Thorn, Zach Sanders, Logan Storley, and so many others. Then being able to come to the same program that I watched so many greats before me come through and succeed was a dream come true. Now my time out on the mat has come to a close and I’ll be back up in those stands cheering on the Gophers like I did in my youth. My journey as a Gopher started long before I stepped on campus and it will live on long after I step foot off of this campus. Thank you to everyone who has ever made an impact on me from the start of my journey to now.”
In only two seasons wearing the Maroon and Gold, Devin Skatzka has represented this program in impeccable fashion both on and off the mat. A 2019 All-American for the Gophers, Devin has 54 wins in Dinkytown including an incredible 37 bonus point victories. A quiet captain, Skatzka leads the team by example and hard work.
Skatzka is set to graduate with a degree in sports management.
Devin Skatzka on being a Gopher: “Being a Gopher means wanting to win and succeed more for the Gopher Wrestling community and for your brothers than for yourself. I have only been part of this program for two years and I have built relationships that will carry on throughout the rest of my life. Going to war for those people is what I’ll miss most.”
An Osseo native, Carson Brolsma was a 2019 NCAA Qualifier after placing top-ten at the Big Ten Championships last season at Williams Arena. A leader by example, Brolsma relentlessly worked his way into the lineup after joining the Gophers as a walk-on and finishes his career with 67 career victories.
Brolsma is set to graduate with an applied economics degree and already has a job lined up at Viking Forest Products based in Eden Prairie.
Carson Brolsma on being a Gopher: “Being a Gopher is a way of life. To me, it means doing everything in your power to continue a tradition that’s been molded by so many others.”
An Eden Prairie native, Ben Brancale has been a standout letterwinner for the Gophers throughout his five years in Minneapolis. Brancale made his dual debut on February 17, 2018, with a victory over Iowa State and has always been available to the team when he’s called upon. A winner of over 40 career bouts, including a final Big Ten victory last month against Indiana, Brancale is set to graduate with a degree in applied economics.
Ben Brancale on being a Gopher: “Being a Gopher wrestler for me has been living out a dream of mine. Growing up I idolized many o the greats that have come through the program, and getting the opportunity to follow in their footsteps was something very special for me. I was fortunate to have my brother, the person who motivated me to beginning wrestling, alongside me for my first two years. Being a member of this program has brought forth a new meaning to the word “brotherhood” and I’m lucky to join this group of Gopher Wrestling past, present, and future. I’m extremely grateful for all those involved in my time here.”
Next up is Bobby Steveson, an Apple Valley native, 2017 NCAA Qualifier, and an always energetic teammate on the Gophers bench. Victorious in over 35 career matches, Bobby shows his artistic side away from wrestling as he recently released his new country single and plans on more down the pipeline. Steveson has already graduated with a degree in and has accepted a job working at the Hennepin County Detention Center as he pursues a future in criminal justice with the federal government.
Bobby Steveson on being a Gopher: “Being a Gopher wrestler to me means that I am a part of something bigger than myself, representing the past and future. Being a Gopher is an honor and to be representing the state of Minnesota just adds to it.”
A Kasson native, Chase O’Connor is a perfect example of the ideal student-athlete. A hard-worker and a great training partner, O’Connor excels off the mat as an Academic All-Big Ten honoree. O’Connor was always ready at any moment and this season he made his dual debut in the Gophers season opener.
O’Connor graduates with a team-high GPA and a degree in sport management in addition to being an assistant for the Gophers athletic administration.
Chase O’Connor on being a Gopher: “Being a Gopher to me means sticking together as a family through tough times and good times.”
A Maryland native, Hunter Ritter joined the Gophers for his final collegiate season and has made an immediate impact as an upper weight. Competing at both 184 and 197-pounds, Ritter has already won over 20 bouts in Maroon and Gold with more to surely follow as we close out the 2020 season.
Hunter Ritter on being a Gopher: “It is a privilege and an honor to be part of the Gopher wrestling team. I will cherish the memories I have made with my time at the University of Minnesota.”
Check out Gopher Wrestling at gophersports.com and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.