GOLDEN GOPHERS (11-3, 2-0)
#1/1 Iowa Hawkeyes (14-1, 2-0)
#3/3 Oklahoma State (12-2-1, 2-1-1)
Locations: Minneapolis, Minn. (Iowa), Stillwater, Okla. (Oklahoma State)
Arenas: Williams Arena (Iowa), Gallagher-Iba Arena (OSU)
Dates: Friday, Feb. 1 (Iowa), Sunday, Feb. 3 (OSU)
Times: 7:30 p.m. CST (Iowa), 1:00 p.m. CST (OSU)
Television: Big Ten Network (Live) - Friday @ 7:30 p.m. (No TV Sunday). The BTN is available in via Dish Network (channel 439) and DirecTV (channel 220).
Radio: AM 800 KXIC (Iowa City)
Live Updates: Follow the meet match-by-match via InterMat and Gophersports.com.
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS:
#4 Minnesota Golden Gophers
125: #1 Jayson Ness (25-0, Division I-leading 17 pins)
133: #2 Mack Reiter (16-3, 10-2 in dual meets)
141: #4 Manuel Rivera (25-2, beat #3 Kellen Russell of MSU last Friday)
149: Luke Mellmer (8-14) OR #2 Dustin Schlatter (13-1)
157: #7 C.P. Schlatter (21-2, 11-2 in dual meets)
165: Tyler Safratowich (19-7, 2007 NCAA qualifier)
174: #11 Gabe Dretsch (21-7, will face #2 Jay Borschel Friday)
184: #5 Roger Kish (8-3, two-time All-American)
197: Justin Bronson (14-12) OR Chris McPhail (3-2)
Hwt: Ben Berhow (12-10, 3-3 in duals)
#1 Iowa Hawkeyes
125: #3 Charlie Falck (24-1)
133: #3 Joe Slaton (23-2) OR Daniel Dennis (0-0)
141: #9 Dan LeClere (19-6)
149: #1 Brent Metcalf (23-1)
157: #15 Ryan Morningstar (17-6)
165: Aaron Janssen (10-9) OR Jake Kerr (7-6)
174: #2 Jay Borschel (22-4)
184: #8 Phillip Keddy (18-6)
197: Chad Beatty (10-10) OR Rick Loera (7-8)
Hwt: #6 Matt Fields (21-5)
IOWA/OKLAHOMA STATE NOTES TO KNOW
The fourth-ranked and defending national champion Golden Gopher wrestling team will run through the proverbial “gaunlet” this weekend as they take on top-ranked Iowa Friday night at Williams Arena before traveling to meet No. 3 Oklahoma State Sunday afternoon in Stillwater. Friday’s meet will begin at 7:30 p.m., with Sunday’s starting at 1:00.
Friday night’s meet will be televised live by the Big Ten Network, the second of three Gopher wrestling meets that will be broadcast this season. The Minnesota - Iowa State dual Dec. 2 was live on the BTN, as will next week’s Dec. 8 tilt at Northwestern. On the call will be Tim Johnson and James Gibbons.
The Hawkeyes, one of the traditional powers in college wrestling, have won 25 of 88 all-time meetings with Minnesota. But head coach J Robinson has led his program to nine wins in 13 tries against Iowa since 1998, including two in a row (2006 and 2007).
Oklahoma State leads the series against Minnesota by a 16-10 margin, but the Golden Gophers have won eight of the last 11 meetings, including a 21-15 win last season and two victories over the Cowboys in 2005-06.
The Hawkeyes will enter Williams Arena with a star-studded lineup that rivals Minnesota’s own. Six of the 10 probable matches Friday night will take place between ranked wrestlers, with five of those pairs ranked in the top-10 nationally. That number could rise to as high as seven if banged-up No. 2 Dustin Schlatter and No. 1 Brent Metcalf wrestle at 149 pounds.
Minnesota is coming off a successful Big Ten-opening weekend in which they picked up victories over Michigan State (last Friday in East Lansing) and Michigan (Sunday in Ann Arbor). Friday’s 23-15 victory over the Spartans was the team’s ninth in its last 10 conference openers.
While the Gophers’ victory over MSU was their 14th in 15 tries, Minnesota’s road win over the Wolverines was especially impressive. The Gophers had lost three of four and five of seven to Michigan entering Sunday, but won six of 10 bouts at Cliff Keen Arena despite being without the services of former All-Americans Roger Kish and Dustin Schlatter.
The Gophers are expected to welcome back Kish to the starting lineup Friday night against the Hawkeyes. The three-time NCAA qualifier and two-time All-American had been sidelined with various injuries, but appears to be back at full strength. He will most likely square off with No. 5 Phil Keddy of Iowa Friday.
The pair of weekend road victories improved Minnesota’s overall dual meet record to 11-3 and 2-0 in Big Ten competition. They retained their No. 4 ranking in the latest USA Today/NWCA/InterMat poll and are No. 3 nationally according to W.I.N. Magazine.
Seven of Minnesota’s 10 normal starters are ranked nationally in their respective weight classes currently. Jayson Ness (No. 1 at 125 pounds), Mack Reiter (No. 5 at 133 pounds), Manny Rivera (No. 3 at 141), Dustin Schlatter (No. 2 at 149 pounds), C.P. Schlatter (No. 6 at 157), Gabe Dretsch (No. 11 at 174) and Roger Kish (No. 5 at 184) all rank among the nation’s best.
Gopher senior Gabe Dretsch (174 pounds) picked up his 100th career victory last Friday, pinning MSU’s John Murphy in just 46 seconds. Fellow seniors Mack Reiter, Manuel Rivera and C.P. Schlatter (all with 102 career wins) have all eclipsed the 100-win barrier this season, while Kish (110) did so last year.
Top-ranked 125-pounder Jayson Ness will look to continue his march to history this weekend. While he has two tough match-ups ahead of him (No. 3 Charlie Falck Friday and No. 16 Tyler Shinn on Sunday), the sophomore needs just three more pins to break current assistant head coach Marty Morgan’s single-season mark for most pins by a Gopher (20, set in 1989-90).
THE RIVALRY: MINNESOTA VS. IOWA
Minnesota vs. Iowa is one of the most storied rivalries in college wrestling the two schools have met 88 times since 1921. Although the Gophers have won only 25 of those head-to-head meetings during that span, Minnesota has dominated the rivalry since they snapped the Hawkeyes’ run of 25 straight Big Ten titles in 1999.
The Gophers have won nine of the past 14 meetings between the two schools, including convincing victories the past two seasons Minnesota’s 25-9 win at Williams Arena in 2005 was one of its most lopsided in the history of the rivalry to that point, and the Gophers emerged with an even more impressive 29-13 victory at Carver-Hawkeye Arena last season the second-worst home loss for Iowa since 1972.
THE SERIES VS. OKLAHOMA STATE
Oklahoma State leads the series against Minnesota by a 16-10 margin, but the Golden Gophers have won eight of the last 11 meetings, including a 21-15 win over then-No. 1 OSU last season and two victories over the Cowboys in 2005-06.
The two teams first met in 1941 and ’42 but did not meet again until 1958. Seventeen of the 25 meetings have occurred since 1993.
Minnesota is just 2-12 all-time against the Cowboys at home, but sport a 3-1 mark all-time against Oklahoma State in a neutral setting. Minnesota is 5-4 all-time in Stillwater, Okla., currently with a four-match winning streak.
THE LAST TIME: MINNESOTA VS. IOWA (2/18/07)
The top-ranked University of Minnesota wrestling team stormed into Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Feb. 18, 2007 and rolled over the 10th-ranked Hawkeyes with a convincing 29-13 victory to finish the dual meet season 20-1 overall and 8-0 in the Big Ten. Iowa fans were encouraged to wear all black in an attempt to create a hostile environment, but the Gophers made the announced crowd of 8,274 mostly a non-factor, winning seven of 10 matches on the night (including a major decisions by Jayson Ness and Roger Kish and a pin from Mack Reiter).
With the victory, the Golden Gophers reached 20 dual meet wins for the fifth time in Head Coach J Robinson’s tenure and finished the Big Ten regular season with an unblemished record for the fourth time in his career and the first time since their back-to-back national championship runs in 2001 and ’02.
DID YOU KNOW?
With a 29-13 win over Iowa in the 2006-07 regular season finale, the Gophers matched the 16-point margin of victory they posted against the Hawkeyes in 2005-06 (25-9) to mark Minnesota’s biggest win over Iowa since a 23-6 victory in 1941.
THE LAST TIME: MINNESOTA VS. OKLAHOMA STATE (12/6/06)
The No. 3 University of Minnesota wrestling team sent an early season statement Dec. 6 with a 21-15 victory over top-ranked Oklahoma State. The Golden Gophers won three of the final four matches of the night to put the Cowboys away.
Minnesota has now won eight of the last 11 meetings between the two storied programs. The Gophers snapped a streak of eight consecutive duals between the two teams in which the home team was on the losing end. The Maroon and Gold earned its first victory over the Cowboys at home since a 23-16 victory on Feb. 5, 1994.
GOPHERS TOP SPARTANS IN OPENER
The Gopher wrestling team enjoyed a successfully opening to its Big Ten season Friday night with a 23-15 win over Michigan State in East Lansing, Mich. The fourth-ranked Gophers notched bonus points in four of their five match wins and held off the pesky Spartans even without the services of injured stars Roger Kish and Dustin Schlatter.
The win was Minnesota’s ninth in their last 10 Big Ten openers and their 13th in 14 tries against Michigan State. The Spartans have beaten the Gophers just one time (2005) since 1996.
MINNESOTA AVENGES EARLY LOSS TO WOLVERINES
The fourth-ranked Golden Gopher wrestling team completed a perfect weekend in the state of Michigan with a big 24-15 win over the No. 6 Wolverines Saturday, Jan. 26. The Gophers jumped out to an early 15-0 lead and held on to defeat Michigan and improve their dual meet record to 11-3 (2-0 in the Big Ten).
After Michigan stormed back to within three points (18-15) following the 184-pound bout, Minnesota’s Justin Bronson (197 pounds) and Ben Berhow (heavyweight) pulled off impressive victories to seal the win for the Gophers. The dual meet victory avenges the Wolverines’ 23-16 upset of Minnesota earlier this month at the National Duals and was the Gophers’ second in their last five meetings with Michigan.
The defending national champions have won their past 11 Big Ten dual meets dating back to the 2005-06 season.
NESS VS. FALCK: ROUND 4
One of Friday’s most anticipated individual match-ups will most likely the be the night’s first, as top-ranked Jayson Ness and No. 3 Charlie Falck square off at 125 pounds. These two old high school foes (Falck beat Ness twice in three prep matches) are not strangers at the collegiate level either.
Last season, Ness proved to have Falck’s number: The Gopher beat the Hawkeye three times in a one-month stretch, including a dual meet (8-0 MD in favor of Ness), the Big Ten Championships (a 12-1 drubbing in the final) and at the 2007 NCAA Championships (a 3-0 quarterfinal win).
INJURY WOES ON BOTH SIDES
It has been well documented that the Golden Gophers have suffered from injuries this season All-Americans Dustin Schlatter and Roger Kish have each missed significant time due to various ailments. But the Hawkeyes have been hit hard by the injury bug themselves lately defending national champion and top-ranked 165-pounder Mark Perry underwent arthroscopic knee surgery last week and will be out for Friday’s big dual meet.
MATCH OF THE CENTURY’ WILL IT HAPPEN?
While several intriguing match-ups exist between Iowa and Minnesota during Friday’s dual meet, few contain the possibilities or generate the excitement that a Dustin Schlatter Brent Metcalf 149-pound match does. These two former four-time high school state champions (Schlatter in Ohio and Metcalf in Michigan) met twice during their prep careers but have never faced off at the collegiate level. Currently ranked No. 1 and No. 2 nationally in what is generally considered to be the country’s deepest weight class, Schlatter and Metcalf will almost certainly wrestle at the Big Ten Championships if they do not meet this weekend.
RUNNING THE GAUNTLET
Even if the Gophers are able to overcome the top-ranked Hawkeyes on Friday, they can hardly take the rest of the weekend off. Sunday, Minnesota will travel to Stillwater for a match-up with the No. 3 Oklahoma State Cowboys, another college wrestling powerhouse. The Boys upset Iowa 19-14 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena Jan. 5 and currently boast five top-10 wrestlers, including the nation’s top 133-pounder in Scott Coleman. If the Gophers can emerge from the weekend unscathed, they will undoubtedly regain their No. 1 national ranking and be the odds-on favorites come March.
REITER ENJOYS HOME COOKING’
Former four-time Iowa state champion and Gilbertville, Iowa native Mack Reiter became one of the first high-profile recruits to forsake his home state for its neighbor to the north when he chose Minnesota back in 2003.
Since then, Reiter has accumulated two All-American nods and helped lead the Gophers to the 2007 NCAA title. Friday’s contest will be his final career dual meet against the Hawkeyes, and no one has enjoyed the taste of “home cooking” more than the 133-pounder: During his four-year Gopher career, Reiter has never lost an official match to an Iowa wrestler, beating such names as Mario Galanakis (2005), Daniel Dennis (2006), Lucas Magnani (2007) and Galanakis again (2007 Big Tens).
Friday, Reiter will face the toughest test in four years against the Hawkeyes when he takes on No. 2 Joe Slaton at 133 pounds. Slaton, a transfer from Virginia Tech, has lost just twice in 25 matches this season (one of those coming against top-ranked Coleman Scott of OSU). Sunday, Reiter’s tough weekend slate continues as he takes on Scott down in Stillwater.
MANNY’S BIG DAY(S)
If the Golden Gophers hope to repeat as NCAA champions in 2008, they will need a big-time performance from wrestlers like 141-pounder Manuel Rivera (three-time NCAA qualifier but no All-American nods). This season, Rivera has shown the ability to “ramp it up” for big-time matches his 25-2 record and No. 3 national ranking includes wins over three top-ten wrestlers.
At the Southern Scuffle, he dismantled then-No. 7 Joe Caramanica of N.C. State with a 17-1 tech fall in the semis before beating then-No. 3 Charles Griffin of Hofstra 5-3 in the 141-pound final. Last Sunday, he avenged his National Duals loss to then-No. 1 Kellen Russell of Michigan by beating Russell (ranked third at the time) 4-2 in Ann Arbor.
OLD SCHOOL VS. NEW SCHOOL
College wrestling is a tradition-driven sport, and few programs possess as much history as Minnesota and Iowa. While Minnesota is relatively “new” amongst the nation’s elite (all three of the Gophers’ national titles have come since 2001) head coach J Robinson is the “old guard” in the Big Ten his 22 seasons at the helm are the most in the conference.
Meanwhile, Iowa has enjoyed a resurgence under second-year head coach Tom Brands. The Hawkeyes are 26-6 under their fiery new head coach since the start of last season and will the enter championship stretch as one of the odds-on favorites to win it all. The two schools’ rosters also have a decided “old vs. new” feel while Minnesota normally wrestles as many as nine upperclassmen (including six seniors), the Hawkeyes will likely only send three upperclassmen to the mat on Feb. 1 and start seven sophomores.
WILL HISTORY REPEAT ITSELF?
The Minnesota Iowa match-up has been the jumping-off point for a number of historic Gopher runs during the J Robinson era. In 1994, the Gophers earned their first No. 1 national ranking of Robinson’s tenure with a 23-11 win over the Hawkeyes, the program’s first in 22 years. In 1998, a single match appeared to shift the balance of power in favor of Minnesota. The turning point in the series came in the finals of the National Duals at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Jan. 18, 1998. The Gophers trailed 17-12 entering the heavyweight bout before seventh-ranked Shelton Benjamin pinned eighth-ranked Wes Hand in 2:16. With the 18-17 victory, Minnesota became just the second team in 16 years to beat Iowa in Carver-Hawkeye.
Not only is the Minnesota-Iowa dual meet traditionally one of the most competitive sporting events of the year, it is also one of the best-attended. The top four attendance figures in Minnesota history have come in meets with the Hawkeyes, including a record 15,646 in 2002 at the Target Center. The two teams also drew over 13,000 (2000) and 11,284 (1998) fans to Williams Arena and over 12,000 to the Xcel Energy Center in 2002.
FOUR GOPHERS PASS CENTURY MARK
While current senior Roger Kish was the only Gopher to eclipse 100 career victories last season (he currently has 110), four Gophers have accomplished the feat already in 2007-08.. Gopher senior Manny Rivera currently boasts a lifetime mark of 103-33 and picked up his 100th lifetime win by beating Central Michigan’s Eric Kruger 7-5 in overtime at the National Duals. Mack Reiter, currently 102-19 lifetime, notched his 100th win by beating Kenny Jordan of Nebrask in the Gophers’ semifinal loss at the National Duals.
Another Gopher senior, C.P. Schlatter, just picked up his 100th career victory with an impressive 43-second pin of SDSU’s Nick Genereux on Sunday. Gabe Dretsch, a three-time NCAA qualifier out of Frazee, Minn., won his 100th career match by pinning MSU’s John Murphy on Jan. 25.
Current Gophers With 100 Career Wins
Roger Kish (2003-pres.) - 110-22-0
Manuel Rivera (2003-pres.) - 103-33-0
Mack Reiter (2003-pres.) - 102-19-0
C.P. Schlatter (2003-pres.) - 102-28-0
Gabriel Dretsch (2003-pres.) - 100-49-0
NESS HOLDS SECOND-LONGEST ACTIVE D1 WIN STREAK
As he approaches the Gophers’ single-season pins mark, Jayson Ness has quietly been approaching another historic mark. The sophomore has won 27 consecutive matches dating back to his pin of Lock Haven’s Obenson Blanc at the 2007 NCAAs. That appears to be the second-longest active winning streak in Division I college wrestling behind 2007 197-pound national champion Josh Glenn of American University. Below is a list of the other longest active streaks in college wrestling:
Longest Active Winning Streaks in D1 Wrestling
1. 34, Josh Glenn, American (12/30/07-pres.)
2. 27, Jayson Ness, Minnesota (11/10/07-pres.)
3. 24, Mike Poeta, Illinois (3/17/07-pres.)
4. 21, Keith Gavin, Pittsburgh (11/11/07-pres.)
NESS A PINNING MACHINE
Sophomore Jayson Ness burst onto the wrestling scene as a redshirt freshman last year, storming to a 40-5 record and taking fifth at the 2007 NCAA Championships. This year, Ness has taken another step forward and established himself as one of the country’s most dominant athletes. The Bloomington, Minn. native is Minnesota’s remaining undefeated starter at 27-0 and has pinned a whopping 17 opponents already the seventh-highest total in program history. Ness is on pace to shatter the Gophers’ single-season mark of 20, set by current head assistant coach (and fellow Bloomington-Kennedy alumn) Marty Morgan in 1989-90.
DUAL MEET DOMINANCE
Minnesota has posted a 181-32 (.850) dual meet winning percentage since the start of the 1997-98 season. In seven seasons during that stretch, the Gophers have lost two dual meets or fewer, including a perfect 19-0 season in 2001-02. Before their Dec. 2 loss to Iowa State, Minnesota had won 23 consecutive dual meets dating back to Nov. 25 of last season.