The fourth-ranked and defending national champion Minnesota Golden Gopher defeated the No. 11 Northwestern Wildcats 33-12 at Welsh-Ryan Arena Friday night. The win was the ninth straight for Minnesota over Northwestern, as the Gophers have not lost to the Wildcats since 1996.
The Gophers won seven of 10 matches during the dual meet, which was televised live by the Big Ten Network. Seniors Gabe Dretsch, Roger Kish, Mack Reiter, Manuel Rivera and C.P. Schlatter all earned individual wins, including three pins and sophomore sensation Jayson Ness also earned his 30th straight victory at 125 pounds to snap the Gophers’ two-meet losing streak.
Friday’s meet began at 174 pounds, and the 11th-ranked Dretsch got the Gophers off to a solid start against No. 12 Nick Hayes. Down 3-2 entering the final period, Dretsch pulled off a five-point move halfway through the third (a takedown and three-point nearfall) to grab a 7-3 lead. He held on for the 7-4 win to improve to 23-8 this year. Hayes marked the eighth ranked opponent in a row that Dretsch has faced.
At 184 pounds, Minnesota enjoyed a nice bounce-back performance from the two-time All-American Kish. Kish thoroughly controlled former Division III wrestler Adil Kolovic to the tune of a 17-6 major decision. The win was the first for Kish in his last five matches, as he has struggled with injuries since early December, and improved his record to 9-6 on the season.
Down 7-0, the Wildcats picked up victories at 197 pounds and heavyweight to tie the score in the dual meet. Justin Bronson had a tall order in his match against second-ranked Mike Tamillow at 197. The Gopher senior hung with Tamillow in the early going (the pair were tied at two after one period), but ended up losing an 11-2 major decision.
At heavyweight, the Gopher coaching staff went with a somewhat surprising choice in redshirt freshman Joe Nord. Nord entered the meet with an 0-3 dual meet record, but performed admirably against top-ranked heavyweight Dustin Fox. Down 8-4 heading into the final minute of the match, Nord avoided late takedown and surrendered just three points (avoiding bonus points) in a 9-4 loss.
Ness, the top-ranked 125-pounder in the nation, put on another show in his match against No. 5 Brandon Precin. Ness dominated from the opening whistle once again, opening up an early lead and cruising to the 12-4 major decision. It was the third-straight major decision for Ness over a ranked opponent (he majored No. 3 Charlie Falck of Iowa and No. 16 Tyler Shinn of Oklahoma State in his last two matches). Ness improved his consecutive win streak to 30 (second-longest in Division I) and has gained bonus points in 23 of his 29 matches (17 pins, six major decisions).
Up 11-7 in the dual following the intermission, Reiter took to the mat at 133 pounds looking to snap a rare two-match losing streak. Reiter’s opponent, Eric Metzler, surprised the senior with an early shot to take a quick 2-0 lead. But Reiter’s relentless attack could not be contained, as he stormed back to gain a 6-2 advantage before pinning Metzler at the 4:28 mark. It was the second pin of the season for Reiter.
Minnesota enjoyed a comfortable 17-7 lead heading into the 141-pound match between No. 3 Manuel Rivera and the Wildcats’ Robert Joyce. Joyce was a surprise choice at 141 (he weighed in at 133 pounds before the meet) and didn’t last long against the veteran Rivera. Rivera became the second Gopher senior in a row to pin his opponent as he took down Joyce just 2:26 into the match, his ninth fall of the season.
Luke Mellmer battled in his 149-pound match, but was no match for fifth-ranked and two-time All-American Ryan Lang, losing a 18-1 technical fall. But the Gophers bounced back with wins by No. 7 C.P. Schlatter (a 15-6 major decision win over Andrew Nahdir at 157) and Tyler Safratowich (pinning Dominic Marella in 3:15 at 165) to make the final score 33-12. The pin was the third of the year for the junior.
Friday’s victory was the first for the Gophers on the Big Ten Network. Minnesota’s two previous live telecasts (Dec. 2 vs. then-No. 2 Iowa State and Feb. 1 vs. No. 1 Iowa) resulted in close home losses for the Golden Gophers.
Minnesota’s three pins was the team’s highest dual meet total since their 45-0 win over North Dakota State Nov. 24.
The win was the most lopsided for Minnesota over Northwestern since their 41-3 win in Minneapolis on Feb. 9, 2003. Minnesota improved to 12-5 on the season (3-1 in the Big Ten) while the Wildcats dropped to 5-7 (1-3 Big Ten). The Gophers have now won 13 of the past 15 meetings between the schools.
The Gophers will round out their weekend of Big Ten action Sunday, as they travel to West Lafayette, Ind. to face the unranked Purdue Boilermakers Sunday. Minnesota has won nine of the last 10 meetings between the two programs.
#4 Minnesota 33, #11 Northwestern 12
174: #11 Gabriel Dretsch (MN) dec. #12 Nick Hayes (NW) 7-4
184: #10 Roger Kish (MN) maj. dec. Adil Kolovic (NW) 17-6
197: #2 Mike Tamillow (NW) maj. dec. Justin Bronson (MN) 11-2
Hwt: #1 Dustin Fox (NW) dec. Joe Nord (MN) 9-4
125: #1 Jayson Ness (MN) maj. dec. #5 Brandon Precin (NW) 12-4
133: #5 Mack Reiter (MN) pinned Eric Metzler (NW) 4:28
141: #3 Manuel Rivera (MN) pinned Robert Joyce (NW) 2:26
149: #5 Ryan Lang (NW) tech. fall Luke Mellmer (MN) 18-1
157: #7 C.P. Schlatter (MN) maj. dec. Andrew Nadhir (NW) 15-6
165: Tyler Safratowich (MN) pinned Dominic Marella (NW) 3:15