Gopher Lightweights Fuel 19-15 Victory over Binghamton
MINNEAPOLIS – After trailing 12-6 at the break, the University of Minnesota wrestling program won four of the last five bouts to down Binghamton by a score of 19-15.
The comeback for the Maroon & Gold was fueled by a pair of debut wins in the second half, as both Troy Spratley and Aaron Nagao earned pivotal wins in their first career starts. The Gophers would finish the dual winning six of ten matches.
“It was a slow start for sure, but I thought the second half of the lineup did a really good job for us,” coach Eggum said. “We fell into a little bit of a trap where we had a hard time engaging, and we struggled taking shots from distance and getting into scrambles. The goal is just to get better every week. We did some things well today and there’s things we definitely need to work on. We had some guys wrestle well when we needed them, and we’ll look to improve in some of these positions as the season rolls on.”
The dual would kick off at 165 pounds, as Andrew Sparks opened the dual with a 3-2 decision win over Dimitri Gamkrelidze. Trailing 1-0 in the third, Sparks elected to go neutral and converted a takedown in the final frame to take the decision win.
At 174 pounds, Jared Krattiger would get a decision win of his own, knocking off a ranked foe in No. 33 Brevin Cassella. Krattiger started the match off strong with an opening takedown, which would prove to be the difference in his contest.
“[Krattiger] seemed really focused on this one and he did a really good job of capitalizing on his attacks early. He nearly had a couple more takedowns there late in the period but it’s a big win for him, and obviously in the dual it was very important for us,” said Coach Eggum.
Following three-straight decision losses to close out the first half, the Gophers decided to run out true freshman Troy Spratley to make his first career start against former NCAA qualifier Micah Roes. Again, it was the Gopher grappler who executed on the feet, as Spratley fired off the opening takedown and didn’t look back en route to the 4-3 decision win.
“Spratley has looked great in the room and we know he’s going to be a great Gopher for us in the future,” coach Eggum said. “To get the chance to come out and wrestle as a redshirt, something that he’s able to do this year because of the new rule, he took full advantage of the opportunity so it was exciting for us to see him in the Maroon & Gold.”
Aaron Nagao followed that performance up with an impressive debut performance of his own, defeating Binghamton’s Ivan Garcia by 8-2 decision. Nagao rattled off a takedown in each period, and tallied well over two minutes of riding time to secure the victory.
“I don’t think this was my best, I think I have a lot more to show the fans but I’m happy with the win,” Nagao said. “If anything I was excited to go out there and put this guy’s head in the mat. I wanted more points and I think I could have gotten to his legs any time I wanted, but I’m happy to get my team’s heads back in it and show how dominant we are.”
After yet another Gopher debut fell short at 141 pounds in Vance VomBaur’s 9-7 decision loss, Michael Blockhus earned himself a 5-3 decision win over Michael Zarif to knot up the dual at 15-15.
That led to a deciding contest at 157 pounds, where fans saw the highly-anticipated season debut for No. 2 Brayton Lee, who rolled to a 14-5 major decision to clinch the dual for the “U”.
Lee was firing on all cylinders early and often, securing three takedowns in the opening period and continued to put points on the board with three more takedowns and a riding time point to close out the bonus-point victory.
“The first match of the season, there’s always a little bit of nerves but I was excited to go out there and wrestle again,” Lee said. “I tried to soften the guy up a little bit in those first couple minutes, and if the opening was there, I was going to take it and not hold anything back.”
Following the win, the Gophers will head to 1-0 on the year while Binghamton drops to 0-3 on the season.
The Gophers will now look ahead to South Dakota State, as they will battle the Jackrabbits next Sunday, November 27 inside Frost Arena. Minnesota will then return home to compete against Augustana on Thursday, December 1 at 7:00 p.m.
University of Minnesota 19 Binghamton 15
165: #27 Andrew Sparks (MINN) dec. Dimitri Gamkrelidze (BING), 3-2
174: Jared Krattiger (MINN) dec. #33 Brevin Cassella (BING), 4-3
184: #22 Jacob Nolan (BING) dec. #10 Isaiah Salazar (MINN), 5-4
197: #7 Lou DePrez (BING) pinned #28 Garrett Joles (MINN), 2:16
HWT: Cory Day (BING) dec. Keaton Kluever (MINN), 3-2
125: Troy Spratley (MINN) dec. Micah Roes (BING), 4-3
133: #21 Aaron Nagao (MINN) dec. Ivan Garcia (BING), 8-2
141: Nate Lucier (BING) dec. Vance VomBaur (MINN), 9-7
149: #18 Michael Blockhus (MINN) dec. Michael Zarif (BING), 5-3
157: #2 Brayton Lee (MINN) maj. dec. Connor Decker (BING), 14-5