DETROIT – The University of Minnesota wrestling program is set for the big dance as the Gophers prepare to compete at the NCAA Championships from March 17-19 inside Little Caesars Arena. Competition begins Thursday morning at 11:00 a.m. CT and will continue through Saturday evening’s finals matches, with coverage being provided across ESPN’s family of networks and subscription-based service ESPN+ for all six sessions.
The Gophers will send a total of nine wrestlers to the NCAA Tournament, as eight qualified through automatic bids at the NCAA tournament while Bailee O’Reilly earned an at-large selection. The group is headlined by Gable Steveson and Patrick McKee, who are the only returning All-Americans for the Maroon & Gold.
Thursday, March 17
11:00 a.m. CT: Session I (First Round) – ESPNU
6:00 p.m. CT: Session II (Second Round/Wrestlebacks) – ESPN2
Friday, March 18
10:00 a.m. CT: Session III (Quarterfinals/Wrestlebacks) – ESPNU
7:00 p.m. CT: Session IV (Semifinals/Blood Round) – ESPN
Saturday, March 19
11:00 a.m. CT: Session V (Consolation Semifinals/Place Matches) – ESPN2
6:00 p.m. CT: Session VI (Finals) – ESPN
*ESPN will have individual mat coverage for all sessions
Patrick McKee looks to become a 2x NCAA All-American at 125 pounds as he enters the tournament as the 8th-seed, as he takes on Appalachian State’s Caleb Smith in the first round before potentially seeing a rematch with Purdue’s Devin Schroder in round two. McKee placed third at the 2021 NCAA championships with a 7-1 record in the tournament, including six straight wins on the backside. Heading into this weekend, McKee has won 10 straight postseason consolation bouts dating back to last season’s NCAA tournament.
Jake Gliva gets the 29-seed in his first-ever NCAA tournament against fourth-seed Korbin Myers of Virginia Tech. The other bout in the quartet belongs to Brock Hudkins (Indiana) and Chance Rich (CSU-Bakersfield). Gliva defeated Hudkins at the Big Ten Tournament via a 3-1 decision in sudden victory.
Jake Bergeland gets the 10-seed at 141 pounds to become the highest-seeded first-time participant for the Gophers. Bergeland gets Gabe Willochell of Edinboro in his first match of the tournament, before yet another potential rematch with South Dakota State’s Clay Carlson in the second round.
Michael Blockhus will enter the fold at 149 pounds as the 31-seed as he will face No. 2 Tariq Wilson (NC State) in the first round. Blockhus and Wilson have met once before in their careers at the 2019 Cliff Keen Invitational, as Blockhus defeated Wilson by a 6-4 decision at 141 pounds while Blockhus was at his previous school, Northern Iowa.
Cael Carlson gets a tough test in his first-ever NCAA tournament match as he will toe the line against the defending national champion and No. 5 seed Shane Griffith of Stanford. Carlson earned his spot in the tournament by getting a pin over Caleb Fish (Michigan State) in the 7th place match for the weight’s final allocation spot.
Bailee O’Reilly will get South Dakota State’s Cade DeVos in round one as he comes in as the No. 21 seed at 174 pounds. Although it will be his first NCAA tournament match, O’Reilly is actually a two-time national qualifier as he was slated to compete at the 2020 NCAA championships at 165 pounds prior to their cancellation.
Isaiah Salazar sits at No. 19 at 184 pounds as he will battle with Gavin Kane of North Carolina in round one. Should he win, Salazar may have a match with an NCAA finalist from last season in North Carolina State’s Trent Hidlay.
Michial Foy gets the No. 26 seed at 197 pounds as he gets Mizzou’s Rocky Elam. This will be Foy’s first NCAA tournament as prior to his time at Minnesota was an NJCAA national champion at 165 pounds for Harper College in 2019.
Gable Steveson is the top-seed in the heavyweight division as he looks to become just the sixth multiple-time NCAA champion in program history. Steveson is also looking to become the first wrestler in collegiate history to finish a season with a 100% bonus rate, as he currently sits at 13-0 on the season with one fall, four technical falls, seven major decisions, and one forfeit win.
NCAA Championship History
Minnesota ranks sixth in NCAA history with three national titles in program history – 2001, 2002, and 2007 – as well as 40 top-10 finishes in the program’s 112 seasons. The Gophers also have 23 individual national titles among 18 different champions, with eight of those championships coming in the heavyweight division to earn the program’s moniker “Heavyweight U”.
Last Gopher Champion/Finalist/All-American By Weight
125: Dick Mueller (1953) / Ethan Lizak (2017) / Patrick McKee (2021)
133: Jayson Ness (2010) / Jayson Ness (2010) / Ethan Lizak (2019)
141: None / Lonnie Rubis (1963) / Mitch McKee (2020)
149: Dustin Schlatter (2006) / Dylan Ness (2012) / Dylan Ness (2013)
157: Luke Becker (2002) / Dylan Ness (2014) / Brayton Lee (2021)
165: None / None / Danny Zilverberg (2014)
174: Marty Morgan (1991) / Marty Morgan (1991) / Devin Skatzka (2020)
184: None / Roger Kish (2006) / Kevin Steinhaus (2014)
197: Damion Hahn (2004) / Brett Pfarr (2017) / Brett Pfarr (2017)
HWT: Gable Steveson (2021) / Gable Steveson (2021) / Gable Steveson (2021)
Big Ten Breakdown
The Gophers outperformed expectations in Lincoln at the Big Ten Championships as they qualified eight for the NCAA tournament, with nine Gopher wrestlers matching or outperforming their seeds. Gable Steveson was the highlight of the group as he became the seventh Gopher in program history to win at least three conference titles. Patrick McKee and Jake Bergeland also had impressive showings as they each battled back to place third at their respective weight classes, while Jake Gliva, Michael Blockhus, Cael Carlson, Isaiah Salazar, and Michial Foy all earned automatic bids with their finishes at the conference tournament.