Despite picking up key upsets from Tyler Safratowich (165 pounds) and No. 11 Gabriel Dretsch (174 pounds), the defending national champion Golden Gopher wrestling team could not pull off the dual meet victory Sunday afternoon in Stillwater, Okla., falling to the third-ranked Cowboys 18-14. The Gophers won four of six matches, but close losses at 133, 141 and 184 pounds doomed the reigning Big Ten champions to their second loss of the weekend.
In a heated battle between the two programs that have combined to win the past seven NCAA team titles, the Cowboys got the better of J Robinson’s Gophers for the first time in the last four meetings between the schools. The loss drops the fourth-ranked Gophers to 11-5 overall, while OSU improves to 13-2-1.
Minnesota also lost a 20-13 decision to No. 1 Iowa Friday night at Williams Arena, giving the Gophers their second pair of back-to-back losses of the season (the team also lost their final two meets at this year’s NWCA National Duals).
Things started well enough for Minnesota, as top-ranked Jayson Ness continued his domination of the country’s best competition with an 18-5 major decision over No. 16 Tyler Shinn. The win pushed Ness’ record to 28-0, and he has scored bonus points in 22 of his dual meet matches this season (79 percent), including 17 pins.
But as happened on Friday night against the Hawkeyes, Minnesota seniors Mack Reiter (ranked fifth at 133 pounds) and Manuel Rivera (third at 141 pounds) could not extend the Gophers’ early lead. Reiter mustered little offensively in his face-off with the Cowboys’ No. 1 Coleman Scott (losing 8-2), and a third-period takedown did in Rivera in his 6-4 loss to No. 2 Nathan Morgan.
Down 9-4 after OSU’s Ryan Freeman beat Luke Mellmer 8-3 at 149 pounds, the Gophers mounted a comeback beginning with C.P. Schlatter’s 157-pound match. The senior All-American led the entire way in his 12-2 major decision win against Neil Erisman, paving the way for Safratowich’s upset at 165 pounds.
Safratowich, well-known for knocking off several highly-ranked wrestlers last season en route to his first-ever NCAA qualification, battled No. 5 Jake Diffenbach to a 1-1 tie after three periods of regulation. Fifty seconds into the sudden victory period, Safratowich scored a takedown and added a two-point nearfall to emerge the 5-1 victor and give Minnesota an 11-9 lead in the dual.
Minnesota’s Dretsch, ranked 11th in the nation, was coming off two straight losses entering his match with No. 7 Brandon Mason at 174 pounds, but the Frazee, Minn. native came through in a big way Sunday afternoon. Dretsch built up a 4-2 lead after two periods and hung on for the 5-3 win at 174 pounds. Dretsch improved his overall record to 22-8 this season and has now faced ranked wrestlers in ten of his last 13 matches, including five ranked in the top five and six in the top 10.
Up 14-9 with two-time All-American Roger Kish set to wrestle unranked Jack Jensen, the Gophers appeared on their way to yet another victory over the Cowboys. But despite an early 3-0 first period lead, Jensen successfully eluded Kish’s scoring attempts the final two frames to send the match to overtime tied at 3-3. Forty-four seconds into the sudden victory period it was Jensen that scored a takedown to win the match 5-3. The loss drops Kish’s record to 8-5 this season, and the senior has now lost four matches in a row.
Still leading 14-12, the Gophers needed a victory from either Justin Bronson at 197 pounds or Ben Berhow at heavyweight to escape Stillwater with the dual meet win. But Bronson lost 4-1 to Clayton Foster and Berhow was trumped 4-2 by No. 7 Jared Rosholt.
The victory was the Cowboys’ first home win over Minnesota since a 1997, and the home school has won just two dual meets between these two programs since 1998 (the other instance being Minnesota’s 21-15 win over OSU last season in Williams Arena). The Gophers have still won eight of their last 12 dual meets with the Cowboys.
Unable to pick up a victory in their weekend home-and-away battles with the No. 1 Hawkeyes and No. 3 Cowboys, the Gophers must travel to No. 10 Northwestern Friday evening for a dual meet with the Wildcats. That meet will be televised live by the Big Ten Network beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, the Gophers will take on Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind. at 1:00 p.m.
No. 3 Oklahoma State 18, No. 4 Minnesota 14
125 pounds: #1 Jayson Ness (MINN) maj. dec. #16 Tyler Shinn (OSU); 18-5
133 pounds: #1 Coleman Scott (OSU) dec. #5 Mack Reiter (MINN); 8-2
141 pounds: #2 Nathan Morgan (OSU) dec. #3 Manuel Rivera (MINN); 6-4
149 pounds: Ryan Freeman (OSU) dec. Luke Mellmer (MINN); 8-3
157 pounds: #6 C.P. Schlatter (MINN) maj. dec. Neil Erisman (OSU); 12-2
165 pounds: Tyler Safratowich (MINN) dec. #5 Jake Dieffenbach (OSU); 5-1 (OT)
174 pounds: #11 Gabe Dretsch (MINN) dec. #7 Brandon Mason (OSU); 5-3
184 pounds: Jack Jensen (OSU) dec. #5 Roger Kish (MINN); 5-3 (OT)
197 pounds: Clayton Foster (OSU) dec. Justin Bronson (MINN); 4-1
285 pounds: #7 Jared Rosholt (OSU) dec. Ben Berhow (MINN); 4-2