Minnesota’s season opener will air live at 8 p.m. on BTN
The No. 12/12 Gopher wrestling team will kick off its 2021 season this Friday night at No. 4/5 Nebraska. The Big Ten Network will air the dual meet live at 8 p.m.
Series History: Minnesota leads the series with the Cornhuskers by a 50-22 margin in a series that dates back to 1922. Nebraska has won the past four meetings, which is its longest win streak in the series, and has a 6-4 edge in the last 10 meetings. The Golden Gophers are 15-9 in Lincoln with its last victory coming on November 16, 2012, by a 27-7 margin.
Last Meeting: In the final regular-season meet, Nebraska earned a 29-12 win at Maturi Pavilion on Feb. 21, 2020. Devin Skatzka, Brayton Lee, and Gable Steveson claimed wins for the Golden Gophers. Lee had a 23-8 technical fall at 149, while Steveson capped a perfect regular season with a 19-7 major decision against Christian Lance.
Minnesota Probable Lineup
125: #12 Patrick McKee (Soph.)
133: Boo Dryden (Sr.) -OR- Jake Gliva (Soph.)
141: Marcos Polanco (R-Fr.)
149: #19 Michael Blockhus (Soph.) -OR- Jakob Bergeland (Jr.)
157: #6 Brayton Lee (Soph.) -OR- Cael Carlson (R-Fr.)
165: Andrew Sparks (Fr.)
174: Jake Allar (Jr.)
184: #19 Owen Webster (5-Sr.) -OR- Isaiah Salazar (Fr.)
197: Garrett Joles (Soph.) -OR- Dylan Anderson (Sr.)
HWT: #1 Gable Steveson (Jr.) -OR- Keaton Kluever (Soph.)
Nebraska Probable Lineup
125: #17 Liam Cronin (Sr.)
133: #20 Alex Thomsen (Soph.) -OR- Tucker Sjomeling (Jr.)
141: #7 Chad Red (Sr.)
149: Brock Hardy (Fr.) -OR- Jevon Parrish (Soph.)
157: Caleb Licking (Sr.) -OR- Kevon Davenport (R-Fr.)
165: #15 Peyton Robb (Soph.)
174: #4 Mikey Labriola (Jr.)
184: #7 Taylor Venz (Sr.) -OR- Nathan Haas (Fr.)
197: #2 Eric Schultz (Sr.) -OR- Silas Allred (Fr.)
HWT: #17 Christian Lance (Sr.) -OR- Cale Davidson (Jr.)
Gophers-Cornhuskers Quick Hits:
- Gable Steveson earned a 19-7 major decision against Christian Lance last year.
- Jake Gliva went 0-2 against Alex Thomsen last season with meetings at the Daktronics Open and in the dual meet at Maturi Pavilion.
- Owen Webster dropped a 5-2 decision to Taylor Venz in last year’s dual.
- Garrett Joles fell by major decision against Eric Schultz in last season’s dual.
- Dylan Anderson and Gable Steveson were the only current Gophers to start in Minnesota’s last appearance in Lincoln on Feb. 8, 2019.
The Gophers are 4-0 in season openers under Brandon Eggum, including a 28-9 home win against Cal State Bakersfield a year ago. Overall, Minnesota is unbeaten in its last eight openers with the last loss coming during the 2011-12 season.
Minnesota added a pair of transfers in the offseason. Heavyweight Keaton Kluever spent two seasons at North Carolina. He was 10-7 as a redshirt freshman last season. In December, Michael Blockhus joined the Gopher program after two years at Northern Iowa. As a redshirt freshman at 141 pounds, Blockhus was an NWCA honorable mention All-American after finishing 22-10 and qualifying for the NCAA Championships.
A Look Back
The 2019-20 season ended with the cancellation of the NCAA Championships, which were to be held at U.S. Bank Stadium. It would have been the first national tournament to be held in an NFL stadium. Eight Gophers qualified for nationals, including returnees Brayton Lee, Patrick McKee, Bailee O’Reilly, Gable Steveson, and Owen Webster. Lee and Steveson were named NWCA All-Americans, along with the departed Devin Skatzka and Mitch McKee.
The 2020-21 season marks the 20th anniversary of Minnesota’s first NCAA Championship team. The 2001 Golden Gophers were the first and only team to win a national title with 10 All-Americans. Head assistant coach Luke Becker was a junior on the team and placed fourth at 157 pounds. He’d win a national title a year later. Head coach Brandon Eggum served as strength coordinator and has been on the staff ever since. **BTN will air a feature on the 2001 team during Friday night’s broadcast.
Minnesota returns to the road for the first of two tri-meets this season. The Golden Gophers will meet Michigan State and Maryland in East Lansing on Saturday, January 16. Match times will be announced soon. The Golden Gophers will host No. 1 Iowa in its home opener on Friday, January 22.