Gophers Ready for 2023 NCAA Championships

TULSA, Okla. – The University of Minnesota wrestling program will close the books on the 2022-23 season this weekend as the Gophers prepare to compete on the national stage at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. The Gophers are one of nine teams to bring at least nine national qualifiers to Tulsa.

Competition begins Thursday morning at 11:00 a.m. CST 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.

Competition Schedule
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
11:00 a.m. CT: Session III (Quarterfinals/Wrestlebacks) – ESPN
7:00 p.m. CT: Session IV (Semifinals/Blood Round) – ESPN

Saturday, March 19
10:00 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

NCAA Championship History
Minnesota ranks sixth in the NCAA all-time, with three national titles in program history (2001, 2002, and 2007), as well as 40 top-10 finishes in the program’s 113 seasons. The Gophers also have 24 individual national titles among 18 different champions, with nine 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 (2022)
133: Jayson Ness (2010) / Jayson Ness (2010) / Ethan Lizak (2019)
141: None / Lonnie Rubis (1963) / Jake Bergeland (2022)
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 (2022) / Gable Steveson (2022) / Gable Steveson (2022)

Weight-by-Weight Notes
Kicking things off at 125 pounds, Patrick McKee looks to become a 3x NCAA All-American this weekend as the 11-seed, as he is set to take on Harvard’s Diego Sotelo before a potential matchup against Big 12 champion Stevo Poulin (Northern Colorado) in round two. McKee has gone 13-3 in the past two NCAA championships and will look to utilize his postseason prowess to make a deep run on the front side.

Aaron Nagao enters the weekend with a ton of momentum after breaking out at the Big Ten championships, earning two top-10 victories en route to a second-place finish. Nagao will now appear in his first NCAA tournament as the ninth-seed, facing Bucknell’s Kurtis Phipps in his first bout. Nagao and Phipps met earlier this season at the Southern Scuffle, where the Gopher would claim a 10-3 decision win.

After being the Cinderella story of the tournament last season for the Maroon & Gold, Jake Bergeland looks to reach the podium in as many trips as the 20-seed at 141 pounds. Last season’s seventh-place finisher will kick off the tournament against a familiar opponent, as he’ll see Oklahoma State’s Carter Young. Bergeland is 2-1 all-time against Young, with the two splitting matches this season.

Michael Blockhus is also coming off a Big Ten finals appearance and will look to reach the NCAA podium for the first time in his career as the No. 10 seed in his bracket. He squares off against Oklahoma State’s Victor Voinovich in round one in a rematch from the Oklahoma State dual earlier this season, where Blockhus won a 3-1 decision.

Andrew Sparks returns to the Big Dance after a one-season hiatus, qualifying for the national tournament in 2021 before his season was cut short in 2022 due to injury. Sparks will look to make some noise in the 165-pound bracket as the No. 28 seed and will wrestle returning NCAA finalist Quincy Monday (Princeton) in the opening session.

Bailee O’Reilly will look to cap off an impressive Minnesota career by becoming an All-American for the first time this weekend. He enters the 174-pound field as the nine-seed, facing off against Penn’s Nick Incontrera before a third match this season against Illinois’ Edmond Ruth looms for the Thursday night session.

Isaiah Salazar also lands right in the mix of the 184-pound weight class, making his second NCAA appearance as the ninth seed. Salazar will look to improve upon his 1-2 tournament last weekend, opening the weekend with a matchup against South Dakota State’s Cade King.

Michial Foy enters his second NCAA tournament as the 22-seed at 197 pounds, where he’ll battle against Maryland freshman Jaxon Smith. Foy, who went 0-2 at the NCAA tournament last season, is coming off an eighth-place finish at the Big Ten Championships two weekends ago.

Rounding out the Gopher squad is Garrett Joles, who will make his first trip to the NCAA championships as the No. 32 seed at heavyweight. Joles, who began the year at 197 pounds before making the move to heavyweight in mid-December, will compete against Princeton’s Travis Stefanik in the pigtail round, with the winner taking on top-seed Mason Parris of Michigan.

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