Minnesota team awards: Konrad 'Most Valuable'

The 2007 NCAA Champion Golden Gopher wrestling team announced its team awards at its annual banquet on Sunday evening.

All 30 members of the team were presented with plaques commemorating the 2007 championship season, but on a night dedicated to celebrating the third national title in program history, it was difficult for one individual not to steal the show. The crowd paid tribute to senior Cole Konrad, honoring him with multiple standing ovations as he accepted the Most Outstanding and Most Valuable Wrestler Awards, in addition to the Verne Gagne Leadership Award. The reigning two-time national champion at heavyweight finished his career with a school-record 76 consecutive victories. Described by Head Coach J Robinson as the greatest wrestler in Minnesota history, Konrad finished his career with a 155-13 overall record while capturing two national titles, three Big Ten titles and becoming just the fifth athlete in school history to earn four All-America certificates. In recognition of all of his contributions to the Golden Gopher wrestling program over the last five years, Konrad was also honored with the Dick Mueller Award of Excellence.

Fellow seniors Danny Williams and Juan Martinez were also recognized for their dedication and commitment to the Gopher wrestling program. In their five seasons at Minnesota, the three seniors were a part of a team that won a national title, three Big Ten Championships, two National Duals championships and posted a dual meet record of 78-22.

Jayson Ness also collected multiple awards as he earned Most Outstanding Freshman honors and received the Most Falls Award. In his first season in the starting lineup, Ness captured the Big Ten title at 125 pounds and finished fifth at the NCAA Championships to collect his first All-America accolade. He finished the year with 15 pins, tied for the seventh-most in school history.

Junior Mack Reiter and sophomore Dustin Schlatter were both honored with the Fraser Dean Most Courageous Wrestler Award. Reiter, who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in late September, was forced to sit out the first three months of the season but returned late in the season to help the Gophers capture their second straight Big Ten title and third national championship in the last seven years. The defending national champion at 149 pounds, Schlatter had a target on his back all year and battled through a nagging knee injury for much of the last half of the season but still managed to capture his second Big Ten title and second All-America certificate. Schlatter posted a 37-1 overall record on the year to push his career mark to 79-2 (.975), the highest winning percentage in school history.

Other award winners on Sunday night included Roger Kish, who was recognized as the Most Exciting Wrestler, Manuel Rivera, who earned the title of Most Improved, and C.P. Schlatter, who was named the Most Dedicated. Kish earned his second All-America certificate at the NCAA Championships in March while surpassing the 100-win plateau for his career. In his first season as a full-time starter, Rivera established himself as one of the top 141-pounders in the nation as he won his first 35 matches to start the year before a knee injury prevented him from finishing the season at full strength. Schlatter, the defending two-time Big Ten Champion at 157 pounds, capped off his 2006-07 campaign by finishing sixth at the NCAA Championships to collect his first All-America honor.

Two wrestlers were also recognized for their outstanding academic performance during the 2006-07 year. Jeremy Larson earned the Upperclassman Academic Award after posting a 3.507 GPA, while Joe Nord was the Freshman Academic Award winner with a 3.917 GPA.

Nearly 300 people were in attendance at the banquet, which was held at the Four Points Sheraton in Minneapolis.

2006-07 Minnesota Wrestling Team Awards

Most Valuable Wrestler: Cole Konrad
Most Outstanding Wrestler: Cole Konrad
Verne Gagne Leadership Award: Cole Konrad
Most Outstanding Freshman: Jayson Ness
Fraser Dean Most Courageous Wrestler: Mack Reiter and Dustin Schlatter
Most Dedicated Wrestler: C.P. Schlatter
Most Exciting Wrestler: Roger Kish
Chris Berglin Most Improved Wrestler: Manuel Rivera
Most Falls Award: Jayson Ness
Upperclassman Academic Award: Jeremy Larson
Freshman Academic Award: Joe Nord
Dick Mueller Award of Excellence: Cole Konrad


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