The defending national champion and fifth-ranked Minnesota Golden Gopher wrestling team made quick work of the South Dakota State Jackrabbits Sunday at the Sports Pavilion, winning the afternoon dual meet by a score of 34-9. A Minnesota lineup that featured just four regulars won seven of 10 matches, including the 24th consecutive victory of the season for top-ranked sophomore Jayson Ness.
Fresh off a weekend in which they wrestled four times at the NWCA National Duals, the Gopher coaching staff elected to rest a number of starters regulars Mack Reiter, Manuel Rivera, Dustin Schlatter, Scott Glasser, Gabe Dretsch and Roger Kish were all held out of the lineup for various reasons. Ness (wrestling for the first time in his collegiate career at 133 pounds), No. 7 C.P. Schlatter (157 pounds) and returning NCAA qualifier Tyler Safratowich (165 pounds) highlighted the Gophers’ revised lineup, which featured four wrestlers making just their first, second or third dual meet appearances of the season.
Ness took part in the only 133-pound match of his short career. By dominating Nick Kulseth of South Dakota State, Ness moved to 24-0 overall on the season and 12-0 in dual meets. Seeking his NCAA-leading 17th pin of the season, Ness held Kulseth in a half nelson for the majority of the first period, but was unable to run the hold and gain the pin.
After hooking the Jackrabbit and gaining three back points on the near fall, Ness took advantage and gained another three points to run the score to 10-0 in the second period. With only 20 seconds left in the frame, Kulseth escaped to gain his first point of the match and ended the period trailing 10-1. Following a takedown by Ness and a technical point for stalling against Kulseth, Ness was appeared in position to earn a tech fall victory. But on a failed headlock, Kulseth gave the Gopher faithful a scare by reversing Ness and turning him to his back. Ness was able to fight off the nearfall and finish with a 14-5 major decision victory, putting Minnesota ahead 21-6 for the dual at the time.
Another highlight of the afternoon included Jeremy Larson’s quick pin over Justin Retallic to start the meet at 174 pounds. Competing in only his second dual meet of the season, Larson was able to finish off the Jackrabbit in only 1:39 and gave his fans something to cheer about on Jeremy Larson Community Day at the Sports Pavilion.
Displaying the aggressiveness that has earned him the seventh spot in the nation, C. P. Schlatter was able to pin SDSU’s Marc Wermerson in only 39 seconds at 157 pounds, helping to cap off a day that saw Minnesota lead the entire meet. Schlatter moved to 19-2 overall on the season, with a 7-2 record in dual meets. It was the fourth pin of the season for Schlatter, a new career high.
Gaining another big victory for Minnesota was senior Justin Bronson at 197 pounds. The Gopher scored first against Jeremy Swier with a takedown and then proceeded to rack up point after point on first period nearfall by keeping the Jackrabbit locked up. Eventually scoring 15 straight back points, Bronson won by tech fall 17-0 in 2:51.
Competing in his first dual meet since his sophomore season, fifth-year senior Dan Jackson got a shot in the spot normally reserved for Ness. Competing against Alan Marvin of SDSU proved to be more than the Gopher could handle ultimately the SDSU wrestler pulled out an 8-4 win, one of only three Jackrabbit victories on the day.
Luke Mellmer won his first dual meet decision of the season in seven tries, filling in for the injured Dustin Schlatter at 149 pounds. After a scoreless first period, it was Mellmer who struck first against Jeff Cooley, shooting in on Cooley’s legs and taking him down for the 2-0 advantage. Cooley struck back with an escape and a takedown of his own to take the lead at 3-2 going into the third period. A standup by Cooley then brought the score to 4-2. Firing back with a minute left in the match, Mellmer bridged a failed double leg into a successful and acrobatic takedown to tie the score at four apiece. After the takedown, Mellmer was able to ride out the remainder or the period giving him the point advantage and the victory 5-4.
The Gophers other victories came from Safratowich, a 10-1 major decision to close out the meet at 165 pounds, and Malamura, who won by forfeit at heavyweight. Other Gophers competing included Jake Mellmer (141 pounds) and Brandon Sitch (184 pounds).
Sunday's dual meet lasted just one hour and 23 minutes. The announced attendance was 1,604.
The two-time defending Big Ten champion Gophers will open conference dual meet competition this Friday night when they travel to Michigan State. The Gophers have lost just one time to the Spartans in their past 13 meetings dating back to 1996. Minnesota will then go to Ann Arbor for a showdown with the No. 4 Wolverines. Michigan topped the Gophers in the third-place meet at last weekend’s National Duals. The Gophers have lost just one Big Ten dual meet in the past two seasons.
Minnesota’s next home competition promises to be one of the biggest match-ups of the entire collegiate wrestling season, as the defending national champs host the top-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes on Feb. 1 at 7:30 p.m. at Williams Arena.
#5 Minnesota 34, South Dakota State 9
174: Jeremy Larson (MN) fall Justin Retallic (SDSU), 1:39
184: Tyler Sorenson (SDSU) dec. Brandon Sitch (MN), 8-6
197: Justin Bronson (MN) tech. fall Jeremy Swier, 17-0 (2:51)
Hwt: Yura Malamura (MN) wins by forfeit
125: Alan Marvin (SDSU) dec. Dan Jackson (MN), 8-5
133: #1 Jayson Ness (MN) maj. dec. Nick Kulseth (SDSU), 14-5
141: Adam Everson (SDSU) dec. Jake Mellmer (MN), 7-0
149: Luke Mellmer (MN) dec. Jeff Cooley (SDSU), 5-4
157: #7 C.P. Schlatter (MN) fall Nick Genereux (SDSU), 0:43
165: Tyler Safratowich (MN) maj. dec. Ryan Meyer (SDSU), 10-1