Gophers Handle Spartans in B1G Opener, 29-3
Jan. 7, 2018

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The University of Minnesota opened up the Big Ten wrestling season with a dominant performance against Michigan State, winning 29-3 despite having four regular starters out of the lineup.

Minnesota had to wrestle without No. 5 Ethan Lizak, No. 8 Mitch McKee, Owen Webster and Hunter Marko who have all made at least six starts this season in dual competition. Steve Polakowski, Skyler Petry, Ben Brancale and Dylan Anderson all stepped up and obtained victories for the Gophers who were wearing alternate anthracite singlets in the dual.

"It was an exciting day," head coach Brandon Eggum said after the dual. "We knew it wasn't going to be easy today, but when you want to do great things, you have to have guys who step up to the challenge and make it happen. We talked about each one of those guys having to be a leader and set an example and get to their spots, and I think they did exactly that."

The dual started at 141 with No. 10 Tommy Thorn taking on No. 18 Javier Gasca III. Thorn capitalized on a Gasca takedown attempt, spinning and scoring two of his own in the first. Thorn was able to earn an escape, and then a two-point near fall in the third after beginning the period on top and riding out Gasca for the victory over his ranked opponent.

At 149, Ben Brancale made his home dual debut and made the best of it. His aggressiveness was obvious, but the score was even in the third period. Brancale stepped up, and scored the match's first takedown with just under a minute to go, and came away with a 3-2 decision over Austin Eicher.

After Jake Short was upended at 157 in a close 7-6 decision, fellow senior Nick Wanzek was there to get things rolling again for the Gophers. The ninth-ranked wrestler was once again scoring in bunches. He scored two takedowns, and on the second Wanzek turned Austin Hiles for back points, and went on to taking the match by major decision, 15-7. The major decision is his fifth in six matches, and it also gave the Gophers a 10-3 lead after four matches.

The final match before the halftime break was Chris Pfarr at 174 taking on Logan Ritchie. Pfarr and Ritchie both fought off takedowns, and headed into sudden victory time tied at one. Pfarr made quick of Ritchie with a takedown in sudden victory, earning him his sixth straight victory, marking the longest winning streak of his collegiate career. Minnesota would head to the locker room up 13-3 on the Michigan State Spartans.

After the 10-minute break, Anderson followed in Pfarr's footsteps with a win in sudden victory. Anderson trailed for most of the match, and was down 5-4 with under a minute to go against Shwan Shadaia. Anderson then came up with a huge score with just two seconds left in the third period to force overtime. Shadaia shot first in overtime, but Anderson sprawled and spun around Shadaia and earned his first home dual victory.

"Dylan's match was just exciting," Eggum said. "He made some mistakes, but he kept wrestling and fighting and as the match went on he continued to force his positions. Eventually his conditioning took over and he was able to put it into the overtime and win the match there. I know he felt good, he was excited, and we are glad he was able to step up today."

With the Gophers running away with the dual, up 16-3, Bobby Steveson stepped onto the mat and continued where he left off on the second day of the South Beach Duals. Steveson wasted no time in his match, earning three takedowns in the first period alone, leading 6-2. He would double that number before the end of the match, giving him a 14-8 decision victory over Nick May.

At heavyweight, Rylee Streifel was relentless in his victory over Matt Lloyd. An early takedown seemingly broke Lloyd, and Streifel rode out May for 1:43 in the first period. In the second, Streifel escaped, and then scored once again to go up 5-0. Stalling was called before Streifel obtained the riding time point, giving him a 7-0 decision and his second shutout of the season.

Streifel's victory at heavyweight was enough to clinch the dual victory for the Gophers, putting the score at 22-3.

Coming back to the top of the lineup, Polakowski stepped into the starting 125 role for Lizak. Polakowski, who wrestled at 125 at the Ken Kraft Midlands Championships last week, was able to take an early lead against Rayvon Foley, who came in with an 18-3 record this season. Polakowski scored two takedowns in the first two periods, but a late takedown from Foley made it 4-4 heading into the final period.

Polakowski and Foley both him the mat chest to chest, and a scramble unfolded. Polakowski fought and eventually earned two, giving him a 6-5 decision when the horn rang out at Maturi Pavilion.

With McKee out, the Gophers were put into a situation where Skyler Petry moved up to 133-pounds to take on Matt Santos. The match was Petry's first match at 133-pounds, and it would have been hard to notice after Petry's 14-6 major decision.

Petry trailed for two periods in the match, but earned a takedown to cut the score to just 4-3 heading into the final period. Petry fired forward in the final period and caught Santos in a cradle and earned back points on his way to victory.

"The most important thing is we just keep going out and do what we know we can do, and that is to fight hard," Eggum said. "Not focusing on winning losing, but competing and representing the University of Minnesota in the best way possible."

The Gophers will now shift their focus to Ohio State, who they will wrestle in Columbus, Ohio on Friday Jan. 12 at 7 p.m. That match will be able to be seen BTN Plus and FloWrestling. 

Final Match-By-Match Results:

141: No. 10 Tommy Thorn dec No. 18 Javier Gasca, 6-0 | Minn 3 - MSU 0
149: Ben Brancale dec Austin Eicher, 3-2 | Minn 6 - MSU 0
157: Jake Tucker dec No. 13 Jake Short, 7-6 | Minn 6 - MSU 3
165: No. 9 Nick Wanzek maj dec Austin Hiles, 15-7 | Minn 10 - MSU 3
174: Chris Pfarr dec (SV-1) Logan Ritchie, 3-1 | Minn 13 - MSU 3
184: Dylan Anderson dec (SV-1) Shwan Shadaia, 8-6 | Minn 16 - MSU 3
197: Bobby Steveson dec Nick May, 14-8 | Minn 19 - MSU 3
HWT: Rylee Streifel dec Matt Lloyd, 7-0 | Minn 22 - MSU 3
125: Steve Polakowski dec Rayvon Foley, 6-5 | Minn 25 - MSU 3
133: Skyler Petry maj dec Matt Santos, 14-6 | Minn 29 - MSU 3




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