Dual Meet Preview: Iowa State vs. Minnesota

On Sunday, national wrestling powers Iowa State and Minnesota will clash at the Sports Pavilion in Minneapolis. The Cylones, under the direction of first-year head coach Kevin Jackson, are 2-1 and ranked No. 2, while the Gophers are 3-1 and ranked No. 5.

Below is a weight-by-weight breakdown of Sunday's dual meet.

Matchups are subject to change.

125: No. 13 Andrew Long (Iowa State) vs. No. 3 Zach Sanders (Minnesota)
Sanders has clearly established himself as one of the nation's top wrestlers after finishing sixth at the NCAAs last season as a freshman. He has a motor that never stops ... and he is able to create scoring opportunities through constant motion. His only loss this season has come to 2008 NCAA champion Angel Escboedo in the semifinals of the Southern Scuffle this past weekend. Long, a three-time Iowa state champion, has been impressive in his freshman campaign. He's coming off a runner-up finish at the Midlands ... and the only wrestler who has defeated him this season is Matt McDonough of Iowa, who has defeated him twice.

Bottom Line: Long is a talented freshman who has bright future in front of him, but Sanders, a returning All-American, is the more seasoned and proven wrestler at this point. Sanders defeated Long 6-3 at the Kaufman-Brand Open last season. Expect Long to keep this match competitive, but look for Sanders to eventually wear out the freshman and pull out the victory.

Prediction: Sanders (Minnesota) by Decision

133: No. 5 Nick Fanthrope (Iowa State) vs. No. 2 Jayson Ness (Minnesota)
Ness, a three-time All-American, has dominated his competition this season. He's 16-0 and has 13 pins. He won the Southern Scuffle this past weekend, picking up three pins, an injury default, and a 7-3 victory in the finals over No. 11 Danny Mitcheff of Kent State. Fanthorpe was a 2008 All-American who has battled injuries over the past two seasons. He's 6-3 this season and coming off a disappointing fifth-place finish at the Midlands after he entered the event as the No. 1 seed.

Bottom Line: Ness seems to be at the top of his game right now, while Fanthrope hasn't been at his best. The two met at the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals in 2007 and Ness won that match 11-8. Both wrestlers have certainly come a long way since that meeting, but Ness is still a cut above Fanthorpe.

Prediction: Ness (Minnesota) by Decision

141: Dalton Jensen (Iowa State) vs. No. 6 Mike Thorn (Minnesota)
Thorn, a returning NCAA qualifier, is wrestling with a lot of confidence. He has been impressive in the first half of the season, going 11-2. Thorn was on the verge of winning the Southern Scuffle this past weekend. He was up 4-2 in the third period of his finals match against talented true freshman Kyle Dake of Cornell before giving up a reversal and a riding time point to lose 5-4. Interestingly, Thorn's father, John, was an All-American for Iowa State in 1983. Jensen is filling in for the injured Nick Gallick, a two-time All-American who is recovering from a hip injury. He's 9-3 this season, but two of those losses have come to Division II wrestlers.

Bottom Line: A Thorn-Gallick match would have been intriguing (Gallick won 7-5 last season), but won't happen because of Gallick's injury. Jensen is a serviceable fill-in for the Cyclones, but Thorn is a legitimate All-American threat this season who has proven that he can compete with the nation's best.

Prediction: Thorn (Minnesota) by Major Decision

149: No. 13 Mitch Mueller (Iowa State) vs. David Zilverberg (Minnesota)
Mueller has had a solid career for the Cyclones, qualifying for the NCAAs three times, but remains the lone four-year starter from Iowa's State 2005 No. 1 recruiting class who has not reached the All-American podium. He's coming off a solid Midlands performance, where he went 4-2 and placed fourth. Mario Mason has been the starter for the Gophers all season at this weight class, but is not expected to compete against Iowa State. Look for David Zilverberg, who placed eighth at the Southern Scuffle, to get the call for the Gophers.

Bottom Line: Mueller is a seasoned veteran who seems to beat the wrestlers he should and lose to wrestlers ranked above him. He had a big win over No. 3 Kyle Borshoff of American at the Midlands, which should give him confidence as he heads into the final months of his collegiate career. Mueller will not only be looking to win, but also pick up bonus points.

Prediction: Mueller (Iowa State) by Major Decision

157: Andrew Sorenson/Nate Carr Jr. (Iowa State) vs. Joe Grygelko (Minnesota)
The 157-pound weight class was thought to be the weakest link in Iowa State's lineup this season after Cyler Sanderson transferred to Penn State to wrestle for his older brother, Cael Sanderson. Sorenson has stepped up and wrestled well in the early part of the season, winning two tournaments and finishing runner-up in another. But he has yet to beat a ranked opponent and failed to place at the Midlands. Another option here for the Cyclones is Carr Jr., the son of Iowa State great Nate Carr Sr. Carr Jr. has a career record of 18-9. Minnesota is hoping to get 2008 Olympian Jake Deitchler, who placed fourth at the Midlands, in its lineup soon, but expect to see Grygelko on Sunday. Grygelko lost his pigtail match at the Southern Scuffle, but got on a bit of a roll in the consolation bracket, winning four straight matches before losing to Kent State's Mallie Shuster in sudden victory.

Bottom Line: This is the lone match that does not include a ranked wrestler. Iowa State will be favored, but Grygelko, who is coming off the best college tournament of his career, could certainly make it interesting.

Prediction: Sorenson/Carr Jr. (Iowa State) by Decision

165: No. 3 Jon Reader (Iowa State) vs. No. 4 Dustin Schlatter (Minnesota)
This is the marquee matchup of the dual meet. The winner will likely move into the No. 2 spot in the rankings at 165 pounds (behind Wisconsin's Andrew Howe) after No. 1 Jarrod King of Edinboro was throttled, 15-2, in the semifinals of the Southern Scuffle. Reader has been wrestling well all season. He has two wins over No. 5 Ryan Morningstar of Iowa, avenging losses from last season. His only loss this season was to Howe in sudden victory in the finals of the Midlands. Schlatter won the Southern Scuffle this past weekend in impressive fashion. He had wins over the No. 9 (13-1), No. 10 (3-2), and No. 18 (5-1) wrestlers in the country.

Bottom Line: Both wrestlers are expected to challenge for NCAA titles this season ... and this should be a tight, low scoring match. One takedown might decide the match. Schlatter defeated Reader in freestyle, 3-0, 3-1 at the 2009 U.S. Nationals.

Prediction: Schlatter (Minnesota) by Decision

174: Duke Burk (Iowa State) vs. Scott Glasser (Minnesota)
Burke, a three-time NCAA qualifier, is coming off a sixth-place finish at the Midlands, while Glasser is coming off a third-place finish at the Southern Scuffle. Burk transferred from Northern Illinois to Iowa State last season and had a solid first season for the Cyclones, but struggled at the end of the season, dropping four of his last six matches. Glasser, a five-time North Dakota state champion, has battled injuries throughout his career, which have hindered his performance. This past weekend at the Southern Scuffle, Glasser lost his opening-round matches before reeling off eight consecutive wins in the consolation bracket to place third.

Bottom Line: This match is a tossup. Both wrestlers have battled injuries and inconsistency over the past two seasons. Minnesota will need this one to have a shot in this dual meet.

Prediction: Glasser (Minnesota) by Decision

184: No. 12 Jerome Ward (Iowa State) vs. Kaleb Young (Minnesota)
Ward had the biggest win of his young career last month when he defeated All-American Phil Keddy of Iowa in front of over 11,000 fans in Ames. He's strong and very difficult to score on ... but sometimes struggles to his offense rolling. He's coming off s a seventh-place finish at the Midlands. With Sonny Yohn moving up to 197 pounds, Young is expected to step in for the Gophers at 184 pounds. He was slightly above .500 last season (17-16), but failed to win a match this past weekend at the Southern Scuffle.

Bottom Line: Ward is the more skilled athlete and should win this match. However, Ward rarely gets bonus points, even against inferior opponents.

Prediction: Ward (Iowa State) by Decision

197: No. 1 Jake Varner (Iowa State) vs. No. 18 Sonny Yohn (Minnesota)
Varner's wrestling resume speaks for itself: Three-time All-American, NCAA champion, and U.S. World Team member in freestyle. He's strong and technical ... and has thrived under the tutelage of Cael Sanderson and Kevin Jackson. Varner has his sights set on winning World and Olympic medals, while most college wrestlers aren't looking past the NCAA. He's currently 13-0 on the season. Yohn has competed at both 184 pounds and 197 pounds this season with mixed results. He was dominant in winning the Bison Open and Kaufman-Brand Open ... and pinned No. 10 Brent Jones of Virginia at the Southern Scuffle. But he also has some bad losses, like losing 13-1 to No. 10 (at 184) Clayton Foster of Oklahoma State and getting pinned by No. 13 Jesse Strawn.

Bottom Line: Varner should have no problem handling Yohn, but the question is whether or not he will be able to pick up bonus points in this match.

Prediction: Varner (Iowa State) by Major Decision

No. 5 David Zabriskie (Iowa State) vs. No. 10 Ben Berhow (Minnesota)
Zabriskie, a two-time All-American, is wrestling at a very high level right now. At the Midlands, Zabriskie defeated defending NCAA champion Mark Ellis of Missouri and No. 3 Zach Rey of Lehigh en route to reaching the finals. While Zabriskie is coming off a great tournament, Berhow is coming off one of the most disappointing tournaments of his college career, failing to place at the Southern Scuffle while losing to an unranked true freshman and getting pinned by another unranked wrestler. Berhow had been wrestling well up to that point this season with wins over NCAA qualifiers David Marone of Virginia Tech and Tucker Lane ... and a close (sudden victory) loss to No. 2 Jared Rosholt of Oklahoma State.

Bottom Line: Zabriskie is a national title threat this season, while Berhow is still trying to establish himself as a legitimate All-American threat. Zabriskie defeated Berhow 11-6 in the dual meet last February.

Prediction: Zabriskie (Iowa State) by Decision

Dual Meet Prediction: Iowa State 17, Minnesota 16


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