#13 Gophers Fall in Season Debut at #5 Nebraska 22-14
Despite a spectacular debut from true freshman Andrew Sparks and a dominating performance from Gable Steveson, the No. 13 Gopher wrestling team dropped its season opener at No. 5 Nebraska, 22-14. Minnesota returned to the mat for the first time since the 2020 Big Ten Championships, a span of 306 days.
Making his first appearance in the Maroon and Gold, Sparks upset tenth-ranked Peyton Robb at 165 pounds. The 2020 California state champion trailed Robb, 5-2, before a last-second takedown in the second period narrowed the deficit to one. Sparks opened the third with an escape and quick takedown and held off a late Husker attack to claim a 7-6 decision. After a Nebraska victory at 125 pounds to start the dual, Minnesota’s Boo Dryden tied the match with an impressive 9-2 decision against 15th-ranked Alex Thomsen at 133 pounds. A mid-year junior college transfer last season, the senior took control of the match with a takedown and four-point near fall midway through the first period.
After Cornhusker wins at 141 and 149 pounds, sixth-ranked Brayton Lee and Sparks pulled the Gophers even at 9-9 apiece with four matches remaining. An All-American as a freshman last season, Lee kicked off his sophomore season with a 10-5 decision at 157 pounds.
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