For the fourth consecutive year, Minnesota began its regular season 3-0 as the 24th-ranked Gophers knocked off Grand Canyon, Virginia and South Dakota State, respectively, at Saturday's Gopher Duals. The quad meet at Williams Arena was the first quad hosted on campus in program history, and provided a valuable opportunity for a young Gopher team to wrestle several matches right away to get the season started.
"I think we made some progress today. We lost some close ones, and we won a couple of close ones. It's a great learning experience for us," said Head Coach J Robinson. "We need to build on what we learned today. What we're trying to do is find out where we are. We rotated a couple of guys in to see what we could do. It's a good place to start from."
Minnesota had five wrestlers make their career dual match debuts on Saturday, starting with the very first match of the event with 125-pounder Skylar Petry. By day's end, Tommy Thorn (141), Miles Patton (149), Jack Bass (157) and Dylan Urbach (165) had also competed in dual action for the first time.
Two of those newcomers - Petry and Thorn - posted perfect 3-0 marks on the day. Those undefeated performances were matched by the two ranked Gophers in the lineup, No. 7 Brett Pfarr (197) and No. 6 Michael Kroells (285). While satisfied with his performance and that of his teammates, Pfarr, a redshirt junior and one of the team's more experienced wrestlers, believes there is still plenty of room to grow.
"We have a really young team, [so you see] some inexperience for the younger guys," said Pfarr. "But I'm excited because those are easy fixes. I'm ready to get right back after it. We'll be even better the next week, and the following week, and so on."
Minnesota started the event with its second-ever match against Grand Canyon. The Gophers got off to a hot start, taking the first three matches and building a 10-0 lead. After a loss at 149, the Gophers rattled off six consecutive wins to take the dual. Four Gophers - split between newcomers Thorn and Urbach and returning starters Pfarr and Kroells - earned bonus points via major decisions to help the Gophers pile up points in the 31-3 victory.
The Gophers returned to the mat to take on Virginia in their second match of the event. Petry got Minnesota going right away with a 9-6 upset of No. 16 Nick Herrmann. The Cavaliers fired back with a pin by No. 11 George DiCamillo at 133, but Thorn put the Gophers in front again with a 15-4 major decision - his second straight major decision - at 141. Minnesota dropped decisions in three of the next four matches, with only Urbach at 165 providing points for the Maroon and Gold. At 184, a victory by Chris Pfarr brought the Gophers within two, setting up decisive matches for Brett Pfarr and Kroells to seize the dual for Minnesota. The upperclassmen delivered a pair of decisions and Minnesota took the match, 19-15.
With two wins in their pocket, the Gophers finished off the event against South Dakota State. Three victories from Petry, Thorn and Sam Brancale staked Minnesota to a 9-0 lead, but the Jackrabbits responded with three straight wins of their own, including a major decision at 149 by Alex Kocer to give SDSU a 10-9 lead with four matches remaining. The teams traded victories at 174 and 184, first a 6-5 win for the Gophers on a late escape by Nick Wanzek, followed by a 6-5 win for South Dakota State with a late escape of its own. With the Jackrabbits leading 13-12, the stage was set again for Brett Pfarr and Kroells to decide the dual and, as they had against Virginia, the pair came through. Each earned impressive major decisions, including a 12-0 win for Pfarr over No. 16 Nate Rotert, to seal the 20-13 win for the Gophers.
Minnesota will wrestle its second three-dual event in as many weeks when the team travels to Troy, N.Y. next weekend for the Northeast Duals. The Gophers will wrestle No. 5 Lehigh, No. 12 N.C. State and No. 14 North Carolina on Sunday.
Fans can keep tabs on the action from the Empire State by following Gopher Wrestling on Twitter or by monitoring live stats on TrackWrestling.com. As always, a full recap of the day's results will be available on GopherSports.com after the event's conclusion.
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Minnesota 31 - Grand Canyon 3
125: Petry (Minn) dec. Libolt (GCU), 11-7 / Minnesota 3 -- Grand Canyon 0
133: Brancle (Minn) dec. Olivas (GCU), 9-4 / Minnesota 6 -- Grand Canyon 0
141: Thorn (Minn) maj dec. Tovar (GCU), 10-0 /Minnesota 10 -- Grand Canyon 0
149: Monty (GCU) dec. Patton (Minn), 8-3 / Minnesota 10 -- Grand Canyon 3
157: Kingsley (Minn) dec. Velasquez (GCU), 5-4 / Minnesota 13 -- Grand Canyon 3
165: Urbach (Minn) maj dec. Reece (GCU), 8-0 / Minnesota 17 -- Grand Canyon 3
174: Wanzek (Minn) dec. Moore (GCU), 8-3 / Minnesota 20 -- Grand Canyon 3
184: C. Pfarr (Minn) dec. Wilson (GCU), 5-3 / Minnesota 23 -- Grand Canyon 3
197: No. 7 B. Pfarr (Minn) maj dec. Gaun (GCU), 12-3 / Minnesota 27 -- Grand Canyon 3
HWT: No. 6 Kroells (Minn) maj dec. Chaid (GCU), 11-2 / Minnesota 31 -- Grand Canyon 3
Minnesota 19 - Virginia 15
125: Petry (Minn) dec. No. 16 Herrmann (UV), 9-6 / Minnesota 3 -- Virginia 0
133: No. 11 DiCamillo (UV) fall (4:41) Brancale (Minn) / Minnesota 3 -- Virginia 6
141: Thorn (Minn) maj dec. Watson (UV), 15-4 / Minnesota 7 -- Virginia 6
149: Miller (UV) dec. Patton (Minn), 15-9 / Minnesota 7 -- Virginia 9
157: Atkinson (UV) dec. (SV-1) Bass (Minn), 6-4 / Minnesota 7- Virginia 12
165: Urbach (Minn) dec. Peppelman (UV), 3-2 / Minnesota 10 -- Virginia 12
174: Baldwin (UV) dec. Wanzek (Minn), 16-15 / Minnesota 10 -- Virginia 15
184: C. Pfarr (Minn) dec. Askey (UV), 13-10 / Minnesota 13 -- Virginia 15
197: No. 7 B. Pfarr (Minn) dec. No. 11 Nye (UV) 7-4 / Minnesota 16 -- Virginia 15
285: No. 6 Kroells (Minn) dec. Gillen (UV) 12-6 / Minnesota 19 -- Virginia 15
Minnesota 20 - South Dakota State 13
125: Petry (Minn) dec. Cefolo (SDSU), 3-2 / Minnesota 3 -- SDSU 0
133: Brancale (Minn) dec. Simms (SDSU), 13-7 / Minnesota 6 -- SDSU 0
141: Thorn (Minn) dec. Gross (SDSU), 2-1 / Minnesota 9 -- SDSU 0
149: A. Kocer (SDSU) maj dec. Patton (Minn) 15-6 / Minnesota 9 -- SDSU 4
157: No. 6 Pack (SDSU) dec. Bass (Minn) 6-4 / Minnesota 9 -- SDSU 7
165: Zilverberg (SDSU) dec. Urbach (Minn) 5-2 / Minnesota 9 -- SDSU 10
174: Wanzek (Minn) dec. D. Kocer (SDSI) 6-5 / Minnesota 12 -- SDSU 10
184: Ayers (SDSU) dec. C. Pfarr (Minn) 6-5 / Minnesota 12 -- SDSU 13
197: No. 7 B. Pfarr (Minn) maj dec. No. 16 Rotert (SDSU) 12-0 / Minnesota 16 -- SDSU 13
285: No. 6 Kroells (Minn) maj dec. Macki (SDSU) 13-1 / Minnesota 20 -- SDSU 13