Bison Open Kicks Off 2023-24 Gopher Wrestling Schedule

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota wrestling begins its 115th season of competition this weekend as it travels to Fargo, N.D., to take part in the 52nd annual Bison Open Saturday at the Scheels Center in the Sanford Health Athletic Complex.

Doors opens at 9 a.m. and wrestling begins at 10 a.m. Live results can be found on TrackWrestling.com. The Gophers are expected to face competition from host-North Dakota State and South Dakota State, along with other regional four-year and two-year programs.

Last season at the Bison Open, Minnesota wrapped up a dominant performance by claiming eight of the 10 weight classes. It was the most amount of weight classes won at the Bison Open won by the Maroon & Gold since 2013. Patrick McKee (125), Michael Blockhus (149), Sebas Swiggum (157), Isaiah Salazar (184), and Garrett Joles (197) are the Gopher returners who won titles a year ago.

The Golden Gophers were ranked 14th in the NWCA Coaches Preseason Poll. They head into the weekend ranked 15th as a handful of teams opened the season last week, and Minnesota was off from competition.

Eight Gopher wrestlers are ranked in at least two of the major polls with Michael Blockhus and Patrick McKee leading the way by appearing in all four: WIN, Intermat, Flo and OpenMat. McKee is slated 5th by WIN, 7th by InterMat and OpenMat and 10th by Flo, while Blockhus is ranked 6th by WIN and 7th by the other publications.

Minnesota is coming off of a 2022-23 campaign that saw it finish with a 12-3 dual record, including a 5-3 record in Big Ten action. The Golden Gophers placed sixth as a team at the Big Ten Championships and then finished 15th at the NCAA Championships.

Five starters return for the 2023-24 season, including Blockhus, who was an All-American a year ago. Other returning national qualifiers include sixth-year seniors Jake Gliva, Joles and McKee, as well as Salazar and senior Andrew Sparks. In addition, the team brings back six wrestlers that started at least one dual meet last year.

A seven-person freshman class fills out the Minnesota roster. Max McEnelly was ranked No. 15 on MatScouts’ 2023 Big Board, while Gavin Nelson was No. 20 and Ethan Riddle came in ranked 145th.

Below is a list of Gophers expected to compete this weekend (Intermat rankings listed):
125: Brandon Morvari
133 Jager Eisch
133: #21 Jake Gliva
133: Tyler Wells
141: Ben Lunn
141: Vance VomBaur
149: Theo Cha
149: #17 Drew Roberts
157: #9 Michael Blockhus
157: Sebas Swiggum
157: Kyler Wong
165: Blaine Brenner
165: Hunter Lyden
165: Tim Stapleton
174 Ethan Riddle
174: Sam Skillings
174: #16 Andrew Sparks
174: Devin Wasley
184: Max McEnelly
184: Rowan Morgan
197: #17 Garrett Joles
197: Gabe Nagel
197: Gavin Nelson
285: Bennett Tabor

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