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MINNEAPOLIS -- Sunday's dual meet between Minnesota and Ohio State in Minneapolis could be described as a tale of two halves.
The Gophers swept the first six matches of the dual meet to take a commanding 21-0 lead. But the Buckeyes battled back, winning the next three matches, with two of those wins coming with bonus points, to cut the deficit to 21-13. Minnesota then took the final match to close out a 24-13 dual meet victory.
"If you broke it down into two halves, the first half we wrestled really aggressive," said Minnesota coach J Robinson. "We kept the pressure on. In the second half we had some guys that were just trying to get by with wins. They weren't doing what they had to do to score. We have to be aggressive like we were the first half. We have to make things happen."
True freshman Logan Storley set the tone early for Minnesota with a 4-2 victory over No. 5 Nick Heflin at 174 pounds in the first match of the dual meet.
"Anytime you start off a dual meet with a win, it's a positive, and then when you beat a guy who is ranked fifth, it's good," said Robinson.
Minnesota's Logan Storley gets nearfall points on Nick Heflin at 174 pounds (Photo/Mark Beshey, The Guillotine)Storley and Heflin battled to a scoreless first period. Heflin started the second period in the down position and Storley was able to tilt the Buckeye to go up 2-0. Heflin reversed Storley late in the second period to tie the match at 2-2. But a Storley escape in the third period, coupled with a riding time point, gave the Gopher true freshman a 4-2 victory.
"It was a big win and it was a big dual meet," said Storley, who missed most of November and December with a high ankle sprain. "It was important to come out and get a win against a higher ranked wrestler."
Storley, a six-time state champion in South Dakota, was coming off a third-place finish at the Southern Scuffle, where he went 5-1.
"That was my first time being back, really," said Storley of wrestling at the Southern Scuffle. "I learned that I've got to wrestle throughout the entire seven minutes and continue to put pressure on people and not let them eke out victories at the end."
After Storley's victory, Minnesota picked up wins from its four returning All-Americans -- Kevin Steinhaus (184), Sonny Yohn (197), Tony Nelson (285), and Zach Sanders (125) -- to take a commanding 18-0 lead into the intermission.
Steinhaus earned a technical fall, 18-3, over Craig Thomas at 184 pounds. Yohn won a controlled 5-1 decision over Andrew Campolattano at 197 pounds. Nelson won a decision despite not getting a takedown, using an escape and riding time point for the 2-0 victory.
Minnesota's Chris Dardanes gets in on a shot against Logan Stieber at 133 pounds (Photo/Mark Beshey, The Guillotine)Minnesota freshman Chris Dardanes, who was filling in for David Thorn, stunned No. 2 Logan Stieber at 133 pounds with a 5-3 victory.
Stieber, a Junior World silver medalist, scored the first takedown of the match and took a 2-0 lead into the second period. But Dardanes added an escape and then a takedown of his own to go up 3-2 after two periods. A Stieiber escape in the third period tied the match at 3-3, but Dardanes remained offensive and picked up another takedown and held on for the 5-3 victory.
"Dardanes came out and beat Stieber because he put pressure on him," said Robinson.
Thorn, an NCAA qualifier last season, injured his back late in the week and the Gophers called on Dardanes.
"I was prepared all week to wrestle Stieber, but I wasn't one-hundred percent sure I was going to wrestle," said Dardanes. "I was just glad to have the opportunity."
Dardanes knew he had to keep the pressure on Stieber.
"I wrestled him in the spring and knew he wrestled real low to the ground," said Dardanes. "He has those low shots. I knew to keep the pressure forward, keep my hands in. I knew he was going to wear down by the end of the match."
With the victory, Dardanes improved to 16-2 on the season. One of his two losses this season came to teammate Thorn, 2-1 (overtime), at the Bison Open in November. Dardanes recently won the Southern Scuffle, while Thorn finished third in the same weight class.
Dardanes does not know where his recent performances will put him on the Gophers' depth chart and is just focused on improving.
"I'm not too sure right now of the status," said Dardanes. "He did beat me at the Bison Open. I'm pretty sure he's up a little higher than me. I'm just going to keep working and not have that get in the way of my training. I'm just going to keep winning."
Hunter Stieiber, a true freshman, put Ohio State on the board at 141 pounds with an 11-8 victory over Nick Dardanes.
At 149 pounds, Ohio State's Cam Tessari, also a true freshman, pinned Dylan Ness early in the second period. Ness led 8-4 after the first period, but Tessari was able to reverse and pin Ness in the the second period.
"You can't get in those situations," Robinson said of Ness. "When you start flopping around and rolling around with people, those things happen. You can't put yourself in those situations."
Ohio State's Josh Demas won by major decision, 13-5, over Alec Ortiz at 157 pounds.
Minnesota's Cody Yohn, ranked sixth, then put a halt to Ohio State's run with a 5-3 victory over Derek Garcia at 165 pounds, which gave the Gophers the 24-13 dual meet victory.
The Gophers improve to 5-2, while Ohio State falls to 7-2.
Robinson believes he has a team that could potentially challenge for an NCAA title, but feels there are a lot of gains that need to be made before March.
"We have our goals and what we want to do, but we're not there," said Robinson. "We're a ways off. We've got to be able to keep the pressure on like we did in the first half, in the second half. All those things will be important when we get to March."
174: No. 11 Logan Storley (Minnesota) dec. No. 5 Nick Heflin (Ohio State), 4-2
184: No. 8 Kevin Steinhaus (Minnesota) tech. fall Craig Thomas (Ohio State), 18-3
197: No. 3 Sonny Yohn (Minnesota) dec. Andrew Campolattano (Ohio State), 5-1
285: No. 4 Tony Nelson (Minnesota) dec. No. 17 Peter Capone (Ohio State), 2-0
125: No. 1 Zach Sanders (Minnesota) maj. dec. No. 16 Johnni Dijulius (Ohio State), 20-10
133: Chris Dardanes (Minnesota) dec. No. 2 Logan Stieber (Ohio State), 5-3
141: No. 6 Hunter Stieber (Ohio State) dec. No. 15 Nick Dardanes (Minnesota), 11-8
149: No. 16 Cam Tessari (Ohio State) pinned No. 9 Dylan Ness (Minnesota)
157: Josh Demas (Ohio State) maj. dec. Alec Ortiz (Minnesota), 13-5
165: No. 6 Cody Yohn (Minnesota) dec. Derek Garcia (Ohio State), 5-3