Tony Nelson Wins Gold at 2020 Pan-Am Championships

Gophers alum and two-time NCAA Champion Tony Nelson (’14) took home the 125kg gold medal at the 2020 Pan-American Championships on Monday.

Nelson won three straight matches before getting an injury default in the gold medal match over Amarveer Dhesi of Canada. Nelson’s run began with a 2-2 criteria win before a 4-0 shutout in the following round and a semifinal pin in 70 seconds to advance. He was one of six American champions on the day.

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Zillmer wins Senior National title

Gopher Wrestling Club/Minnesota Storm wrestler Hayden Zillmer won the 97 kg Freestyle Senior National Championship today in Fort Worth, Texas.

Zillmer got on the board first in his finals match with a head-pinch exposure for two-points, but Ohio RTC wrestler Kollin Moore came back and scored the next ten points on an exposure, two takedowns, and two leg-lace turns. Trailing 10-2 with 1:35 left in the match, Zillmer scored four points on a feet-to-back throw to make it 10-6. With :32 left, Zillmer got a takedown and went right into a gut-wrench to tie the match on the scoreboard at 10-10. Zillmer’s four-point move gave him criteria, and with :20 left on their feet, Zillmer fended off Moore’s last attacks to take the match.

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Augsburg alums Fuenffinger, Longendyke qualify for Olympic Trials

FORT WORTH, Texas — Augsburg University men’s wrestling alumni Leslie (Mike) Fuenffinger ’15 and Donny Longendyke ’17 qualified for the United States Olympic Trials with top-five finishes in Greco-Roman action at the USA Wrestling Senior Nationals, held on Friday and Saturday at the Fort Worth Convention Center.

Fuenffinger, competing for the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program, won the 60 kilogram (132 pound) Senior National title, while Longendyke, competing for the Minnesota Storm, finished fifth in the 130 kg (287 pound) class. With their top-five finishes, they both qualified to compete for a spot in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics at the U.S. Olympic Trials, which will be held on April 4-5 at Penn State University in University Park, Pa.

Fuenffinger, a two-time NCAA Division III individual national champion and three-time All-American during his Augsburg career, is a specialist in the U.S. Army, and is part of the Army’s World Class Athlete Program (WCAP), based in Colorado Springs, Colo. Fuenffinger win the U.S. Open title in the 60 kg (132 pounds) weight class in Las Vegas, Nev., in April., and finished second in the Final X competition in Lincoln, Neb., in June, for the Team USA spot on the World Wrestling Championships roster.

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Gopher Wrestling Club to send ten to Fort Worth for Senior Nationals

The Gopher Wrestling Club Regional Training Center will be well represented as ten freestyle athletes are set to compete at this weekend’s Senior Nationals/Olympic Team Trials Qualifier in Fort Worth, Texas.

Eight Gopher Wrestling Club athletes earned pre-seeds heading into the event. Top-seeded wrestlers for the club are Nazar Kulchytskyy at 74kg and Tony Nelson at 125kg. Hayden Zillmer is seeded #2 at 97kg. Other freestyle wrestlers receiving pre-seeds are Zach Sanders – #8 at 57kg, Brett Pfarr – #8 at 86kg, Sean Russell – #9 at 57kg, Dylan Ness – #11 at 74kg, and Jayson Ness – #12 at 65kg. Non-seeded Gopher Wrestling Club wrestlers are Daniel Deshazer at 57kg and Elroy Perkin at 74kg. Men’s Freestyle competes on Saturday and Sunday.

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Seven Minutes with Chad Gable

Seven Minutes is a series of interviews with top wrestling coaches and athletes. Most of the question-and-answer sessions last roughly seven minutes. Hence the name. WWE superstar Chad Gable was a 2012 Greco-Roman Olympian who trained at Northern Michigan with the USOEC program.

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Smith goes 0-1 at the World Championships

Minnesota Storm wrestler Pat Smith (77 kg/169.5 lbs) lost his first match of the tournament to Germany’s Roland Schwarz, 5-3. Smith scored on a passivity point and a step-out to lead 2-0 after the first period. In the second period, Schwarz scored a passivity point to cut the deficit to 2-1. The German then scored with a four-point throw to go up 5-2. Smith would add a step-out point, but it wasn’t enough.

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Smith receives his draw at the World Championships

Minnesota Storm wrestler Pat Smith (77 kg/169.5 lbs) begins his second World Championships against 2019 European silver medalist Roland Schwarz of Germany. Schwarz was 7th in the 2018 World Championships and 5th in the 2018 Military World Championships. Smith’s previous World Championships appearance was in 2015.

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Former Gophers wrestler Pat Smith is peaking as 2020 Olympic Trials approach

If he had a bigger ego, Pat Smith might have been insulted. Instead, the former Gophers wrestler from Chaska was simply amused by Kamal Bey’s boast.

Before their bout at last spring’s Final X tournament, Bey compared himself to a Ferrari — and said Smith reminded him of a Honda Civic. It didn’t bother Smith at all, partly because a Civic would have been a major upgrade for him. At the time, he was driving a decrepit 2001 PT Cruiser, one that was headed for the junkyard before he bought it from a co-worker with the $80 he had in his wallet.

“It’s not quite a Honda Civic,” Smith said, chuckling. “But I think it fits me well.”

Smith got the last laugh, beating Bey in a best-of-three series at Final X to win a place on the U.S. Greco-Roman team for wrestling’s world championships. He begins competition Monday in the 77-kilogram weight class (169.8 pounds) in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. The nine-day tournament, which starts Saturday, is the first chance for countries to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Continue reading at