In a battle between the only two remaining unbeaten teams in the Big Ten on Sunday, top-ranked Minnesota clearly established itself as the class of the conference with a convincing 28-12 victory over No. 11 Illinois. The Golden Gophers won seven of 10 matches on the day to improve to 16-1 overall keep its perfect Big Ten record intact at 5-0.
Fourth-ranked Jayson Ness continued his impressive run of late with a pin of No. 6 Gabe Flores in the first match of the day, and Tyler Safratowich upset his third-straight ranked opponent to lead the Gophers to victory. Other key wins for the Gophers came from Manuel Rivera and Roger Kish, who each defeated ranked opponents, and top-ranked Dustin Schlatter returned to dominant form with a tech fall at 149 pounds.
Ness earned his second fall over a top 10 opponent in two weeks by pinning Flores at 125 pounds. Ness took Flores down midway through the first period and worked him to his back to earn the fall in 2:25. It was Ness’ seventh straight victory over a ranked opponent and 12th consecutive victory overall. During his current 12-match winning streak, Ness has scored bonus points nine times.
Illinois got three points back with a 6-3 decision in favor of No. 8 Jimmy Kennedy over Mack Reiter. After returning to the starting lineup with a victory on Friday night at Indiana, Reiter took the early lead in this one, but Kennedy got the reversal to tie the score before the end of the first period. Kennedy scored another reversal in the second and added a takedown in the third to win the match.
Rivera extended his winning streak to 31 consecutive matches on the season with a 5-3 decision over No. 12 Cassio Pero at 141. Rivera controlled the match through the first two periods, scoring a pair of takedowns and an escape to take a 5-0 lead heading into the third. Pero got an escape and a late takedown to make the score appear closer than it really was.
At 149, Dan Zeman replaced No. 15 Troy Tirapelle for Illinois, and top-ranked Dustin Schlatter took advantage with a dominant 15-0 tech fall. Schlatter, who has been tied up in a number of low scoring matches as of late, wasted no time establishing he was the superior wrestler against Zeman. He scored the first takedown of the match two minutes in and tacked on eight back points to jump out to a 10-0 lead after the first. After starting down in the second, Schlatter quickly got the escape and put Zeman to rest with a takedown and two-point near fall to earn the tech fall in 4:19.
In the most anticipated match of the day, Illinois’ top-ranked Mike Poeta narrowly defeated No. 3 C.P. Schlatter, 3-2. After a scoreless first period, Poeta got an escape and a takedown in the second and prevented Schlatter from generating any offense to come away with the victory.
Safratowich got Minnesota back on track in the 165-pound bout with a shutout of No. 13 Roger Smith-Bergsrud, 4-0. The match went scoreless through the first two periods, but Safratowich rode Smith-Bergrsud out in the second to build up riding time advantage. After starting down in the third, Safratowich got the escape and scored a takedown with 1:14 remaining to put the match away and give the Gophers a 17-6 lead in the dual.
Gabriel Dretsch returned to the lineup after a night off on Friday and delivered an 11-3 major decision over Matt Winterhalter at 174. Dretsch led 6-0 after two periods and added an escape and pair of takedowns in the third, the last coming with just 10 seconds remaining, to earn the major decision.
Kish extended Minnesota’s lead with a 9-5 decision over No. 16 John Dergo at 184 pounds. Kish established control of the match with a pair of takedowns in the first period. Dergo closed to within two after an escape early in the third period, but Kish put the match away with a late takedown and got the bonus point for riding time to improve to 25-1 on the season.
Illinois got six points back at 197 when Brent Eidenschink was forced to default in the third period, but the outcome of the dual was already decided.
Top-ranked Cole Konrad capped off the day with a 15-1 major decision over John Wise at heavyweight to extend his winning streak to 63 consecutive matches. Leading 4-1 after the first period, Konrad took control in the second with eight back points. He added a takedown in the third and got the bonus point for riding time advantage to make the final score in the dual 28-12.
Konrad will wrestle in his final home match when the Gophers host No. 19 Michigan State at the Sports Pavilion next Friday, Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. In addition to Konrad, fellow seniors Danny Williams and Juan Martinez will be recognized during intermission. Minnesota will then travel to No. 20 Nebraska to take on the Cornhuskers on Sunday, Feb. 11 at 1 p.m.
#1 Minnesota 28, #11 Illinois 12
125 – #4 Jayson Ness (MN) pinned #6 Gabe Flores (ILL), 2:25
133 – #8 Jimmy Kennedy (ILL) dec. Mack Reiter (MN), 6-3
141 – #2 Manuel Rivera (MN) dec. #12 Cassio Pero (ILL), 5-3
149 – #1 Dustin Schlatter (MN) tech fall Dan Zeman (ILL), 15-0 (4:19)
157 – #1 Mike Poeta (ILL) dec. #3 C.P. Schlatter (MN), 3-2
165 – Tyler Safratowich (MN) dec. #13 Roger Smith-Bergsrud (ILL), 4-0
174 – #12 Gabriel Dretsch (MN) maj. dec. Matt Winterhalter (ILL), 11-3
184 – #2 Roger Kish (MN) dec. #16 John Dergo (ILL), 9-5
197 – #20 Patrick Bond (ILL) med. def. Brent Eidenschink (MN), 6:40
Hwt – #1 Cole Konrad (MN) maj. dec. John Wise (ILL), 15-1