The top-ranked Golden Gopher wrestling team will wrap up its 2006-07 home schedule by hosting No. 20 Michigan State tonight at 7 p.m., at the Sports Pavilion. Senior heavyweight Cole Konrad will wrestle at home for the final time in his remarkable collegiate career. A live webcast will be available in the Gold Zone, with coverage beginning at the start of the first match. Live text updates will also be available on Gophersports.com.
Minnesota will hit the road to face No. 21 Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb., on Sunday at 1 p.m. A live webcast of the dual against the Cornhuskers will also be available in the Gold Zone, courtesy of HuskersNside. A replay of all of Minnesota's dual meets this season are also available in the Gold Zone.
#1 MINNESOTA (16-1, 5-0) vs. #20 MICHIGAN STATE (3-6, 2-2)
Location: Minneapolis, Minn.
Arena: Sports Pavilion (5,700)
Date: Friday, Feb. 9, 2007
Time: 7 p.m. (CST)
The Minnesota wrestling team will honor three seniors for their contributions to the program both on and off the mat. Cole Konrad, Juan Martinez and Danny Williams will be recognized during intermission of the dual against the Spartans, the final home meet of their collegiate careers.
Destined to go down as one of the greatest wrestlers in Golden Gopher history, Konrad will wrestle for the final time at the Sports Pavilion. A native of Freedom, Wis., Konrad ranks among the top five all-time in every category in the Minnesota record book. He ranks tied for second in career victories (142), fourth in career pins (45), fifth in career win percentage (.916) and tied for third in career dual meet wins (66).
Konrad also possesses the longest winning streak in school history, currently at 63 consecutive matches. He broke the previous record of 58 held by Tim Hartung earlier this year. Konrad’s streak is also currently the second longest active streak in the nation.
Last season, Konrad became only the third wrestler in school history to finish a season unbeaten, doing so with a perfect 41-0 record. His 41 wins were the fifth-most in school history, and his 16 pins on the season rank sixth all-time.
A native of South St. Paul, Minn., Juan Martinez has compiled a record of 27-16 over the course of his career. Earlier this season, Martinez took third place in the 149-pound weight class at the Bison Open.
Indianapolis, Ind., native Danny Williams has been unable to compete this season due to a shoulder injury but has still provided valuable leadership to the team. Williams competed in 13 dual meets and accumulated 21 wins over the course of his career.
Gopher Wrestling Notebook
Senior heavyweight Cole Konrad is currently riding the second-longest winning streak in the nation at 63 consecutive matches and will be going for numbers 64 and 65 this weekend. He trails only Missori’s Ben Askren, who has won his last 75 contests. Each win Konrad gets the remainder of the season extends his school-record winning streak. He broke Tim Hartung’s school record of 58 consecutive wins with his win against Penn State on Sunday, Jan. 21.
Sophomore Dustin Schlatter is not far behind Konrad with 56 straight victories of his own, which currently ranks as the third-longest streak in school history.
Konrad’s and Schlatter’s streaks currently rank second and third in the nation, respectively, behind only Missouri’s Ben Askren, while junior Manuel Rivera possesses the nation’s fifth-longest winning streak at 31 consecutive matches. Here is a look at the longest active winning streaks in Division I wrestling:
75..........Ben Askren (Missouri, 174)
63..........Cole Konrad (Minnesota, Hwt)
56..........Dustin Schlatter (Minnesota, 149)
49..........Johny Hendricks (Oklahoma State, 165)
31..........Manuel Rivera (Minnesota, 141)
26..........Sam Hazewinkel (Oklahoma, 125)
24..........Max Askren (Missouri, 197)
Unblemished at Home
With a 5-0 record at the Sports Pavilion so far this season, Minnesota will look to wrap up its 2006-07 home slate with a perfect record for the second straight year and fifth time in Head Coach J Robinson’s tenure. Since 1998, Minnesota holds a 53-13-0 (.803) overall record at home.
Junior Manuel Rivera will have to be on top of his game this weekend in order to keep his unblemished record intact, with a pair of matches against top 10 opponents. Ranked No. 2 in the nation, Rivera will face fourth-ranked Andy Simmons of Michigan State on Friday night and No. 7 Dominick Moyer at Nebraska on Sunday.
Fifth-ranked Jayson Ness will also be looking to extend his impressive run of late with two matches against ranked opponents. Ness has defeated the last seven ranked opponents he has faced.
Back at Full Strength
With two-time All-American Mack Reiter’s return to the starting lineup last weekend, the Golden Gophers finally have all of their returning NCAA qualifiers from last year back in the fold. Reiter missed the first three months of the season after tearing his ACL in preseason workouts. C.P. Schlatter made his return to the lineup on Jan. 13 at the National Duals after missing six weeks of action following a knee injury he suffered at the Northeast Duals on Nov. 25.
Safratowich Stating His Case
Sophomore Tyler Safratowich has been making a case to become a regular in the starting lineup with his performance as of late. Safratowich picked up the first two Big Ten wins of his career last weekend with a pair of impressive victories over ranked opponents at 165. In his first appearance since upsetting then-No. 2 Brian Stith of Arizona State on Jan. 2, Safratowich knocked off No. 16 Max Dean of Indiana and No. 13 Roger Smith-Bergsrud of Illinois, controlling both matches throughout.
Safratowich spent the first half of the season wrestling at 157 pounds while filling in for C.P. Schlatter, who suffered a knee injury at the Northeast Duals. Clearly willing to do whatever it takes to find a spot in the lineup, Safratowich competed at 141 and 149 pounds last year.
Ness Putting Opponents to Rest
Jayson Ness has been impressive all year long, but the redshirt freshman from Bloominton, Minn., has been particularly dominant as of late. With a pin of No. 6 Gabe Flores last Sunday at Illinois, Ness has now earned bonus points in nine of his last 12 matches. During this streak, Ness has four pins, two tech falls and three major decisions. His current 12-match winning streak includes victories over seven ranked opponents, including four ranked in the top 10. Overall, Ness is 9-3 against ranked opponents on the season.
After entering the season unranked by most polls, Ness has catapulted himself into the top five in the nation at 125 pounds. Ness opened the season with three straight pins on his way to a second-place finish at the Bison Open and captured the title a week later at the Kaufman-Brand Open. He was honored as the Big Ten Wrestler of the Week following Minnesota victories over then-top ranked Oklahoma State and No. 7 Iowa State.