After a pair of big wins on the road last weekend, the Gophers will put their perfect Big Ten dual record to the test this weekend at the Sports Pavilion.
Minnesota will take on No. 18 Michigan on Friday night and No. 16 Northwestern on Sunday afternoon as the team tries to extend its Big Ten dual record to 5-0.
Minnesota redshirt freshman Zach Sanders (125 pounds) and sophomore Mike Thorn (141 pounds) are each in for challenging weekends, as each is slated to take on a pair of ranked wrestlers at the Sports Pavilion.
Gophers in the Gold Zone
Minnesota fans can watch all the wrestling action this weekend live in the Gold Zone. Log on to Gophersports.com on Friday night and Sunday afternoon to tap into the live feed.
Bierschenk Grabs Big Ten's Weekly Award
Following a pair of big wins over the weekend, Minnesota junior Gordon Bierschenk (Waynesville, Mo.) was named Big Ten Wrestler of the Week on Tuesday. Bierschenk, who returned to the Minnesota wrestling program this year after serving a two-year tour of duty in Iraq with the U.S. Army, is the third Gopher to earn the weekly award this season.
The Gophers’ 197-pounder pinned Penn State’s J.R. Brown to vault the Gophers to a 20-19 win over the Nittany Lions on Friday in State College. His 5-2 decision victory was the catalyst for a Minnesota comeback that resulted in an 18-16 upset win over No. 5 Ohio State on Sunday. With the wins, Bierschenk improved his season record to 11-9, including a perfect 3-0 mark in Big Ten duals.
Although he competes this year as a redshirt junior for the Gophers, Bierschenk is on track to graduate with physiology degree this spring. He will be honored for his career at Minnesota during the Gophers’ final dual meet against Indiana on Feb. 22 along with senior Tyler Safratowich.
Weekend to Feature Top Wrestlers
Minnesota’s pair of duals this weekend will feature some of the nation’s top wrestlers. In addition to Minnesota’s five ranked wrestlers, a pair of top-ranked wrestlers will also be on display at the Sports Pavilion
Michigan’s Steve Luke is the nation’s top-ranked 174-pounder this week. The Massillon, Ohio native is 13-0 this season with four pins. Luke is slated to take on either redshirt freshman Kaleb Young or junior Matt Everson on Friday night.
On Sunday, the Sports Pavilion crowd will get a glimpse of Northwestern senior Jake Herbert, the nation’s top-ranked 184-pounder. Herbert is 21-0 this season and has recorded 12 wins by fall. His record this season includes six wins over wrestlers currently listed in the NWCA/Intermat top 20 rankings.
Two-time All-American Jayson Ness has lived up to his reputation for piling up pins again this season. A year after tying former head assistant coach Marty Morgan’s school record with 20 pins, the Bloomington, Minn. native has picked up right where he left off, recording 14 pins in 19 matches this season.
Heading into the pair of duals this weekend, Ness needs only two more pins to tie former Gopher Billy Pierce (1992-96) for most pins in the history of the program with 51.
Last Time Out
The Gophers collected a pair of Big Ten road wins last weekend at No. 16 Penn State (20-19) and at fifth-ranked Ohio State (18-16) at the Sports Pavilion.
On Friday night, a pin by Gordon Bierschenk at 197 and a solid decision victory by sophomore Ben Berhow at hevyweight helped the Gophers clinch a 20-19 victory. Joe Grygelko claimed his first dual victory of the season at 149 pounds as Minnesota withstood upset losses at the two lightest weight classes to upend the Nittany Lions in State College.
On Sunday, Jayson Ness’ big victory over Ohio State’s No. 1 Reece Humphrey capped a Minnesota comeback that resulted in a 18-16 Gopher win. Trailing 16-6 with four matches remaining, the Gophers got wins by decision from Bierschenk (197 pounds), Berhow (Hwt), Zach Sanders (125 pounds) and Ness in those final four bouts to claim the victory.
Mike Thorn also had a big weekend for the Gophers. The Plymouth, Minn. native captured a 12-5 decision victory over the Nittany Lions’ Frank Molinaro in the Friday night dual. On Sunday, Thorn’s second overtime win in three matches this season against defendeingNCAA champion J Jaggers sparked Minnesota’s upset victory.