The No.3 Minnesota Golden Gophers will be part of the inaugural NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals “Mat Mayhem” Final Four. Minnesota advanced to this new chapter in college wrestling after winning the Rutgers Regional last weekend, in Piscataway, NJ. The Maroon and Gold defeated Kent State (35-3) and Missouri (26-7) to punch its ticket to the final four.
Joining Minnesota will be Oklahoma State, who is the host school the finals. The Cowboys defeated Wyoming, 28-7, and Ohio State, 25-6.
Big Ten members Iowa and Illinois also advanced to this Sunday’s final four.
Iowa topped the Virginia Tech 31-3 in the semifinals before earning a 22-14 win over the Oregon State in the regional finals.
The Fighting Illini downed both Oklahoma and Cornell, to win the Cornell Regional. The Illini edged out five of 10 matches over the Sooners to win, 21-18 and took six bouts to top the Big Red, 19-16 to snap Cornell's 19 match win streak.
HOW TO FOLLOW THE DUALS
Check gophersports.com for a live blog of the Gophers at the final four this weekend. A link will be posted Sunday morning. You can also get results via facebook and twitter.
The Hawkeyes finished the season 13-3 and were 6-2 in Big Ten action. Iowa’s losses came to Oklahoma State (17-16), Ohio State (21-9) and Penn State (22-12). The Gophers lone conference loss (19-17) came to Iowa less than month ago, in Iowa City.
Iowa has five wrestlers ranked in the top 10 in Matt McDonough (#1, 125), Tony Ramos (#4, 133), Montell Marion (#6, 141), Michael Evans (#7, 165) and Ethen Lofthouse (#8, 174). Last time against the Gophers McDonough, Ramos, Marion and Evans scored victories against the Gophers.
The Hawkeyes lead the all-time series against the Gophers 69-25-1 which has dated back to 1921. Minnesota’s last win against Iowa was at Carver Hawkeye Arena on Feb. 18 2007, when the Gophers defeated the Hawkeyes 29-13.
A LOOK AT OKLAHOMA STATE
The Cowboys have a perfect record of 14-0 this season and have wins against Minnesota (23-14) and Iowa (19-17. OSU is led by three top five wrestlers: Jordan Oliver (#1, 133), Jamal Parks (#2, 141), Alan Gelogaev (#2, 285) and Chris Perry (#3, 174). All are undefeated on the season with the exception of Oliver who has one loss that came to Iowa’s Tony Ramos (4-3 dec.), back in earlier January.
Minnesota and Oklahoma State have met 31 times dating back to 1941. Minnesota has lost the last three meetings to the Cowboys (23-14 Dec. 4 2011, 16-17 Dec. 2010 and 8-21 Dec. 2009). Oklahoma State leads the all-time series 21-10.
A LOOK AT ILLINOIS
Illinois turned a few heads last week as they were winners of the Cornell Regional. This season the Fighting Illini are 16-2 overall and finished 6-2 in Big Ten action. Illinois two losses this season came to both Iowa (20-13) and Minnesota (25-9).
The Illini are led by Bernard Futrell (#5, 133), Jess Delgado (#7, 125) and Jordan Blanton (#9, 174). Delgado earlier this season gave Iowa’s McDonough his only loss of the season. Delgado fell to Sanders of Minnesota 19-17, in thrilling match.
Minnesota leads the all-time series against Illinois 30-22-2.
MAJOR STEINHAUS IN THE HOUSE
Redshirt Sophomore Kevin Steinhaus is currently No. 7 in the country at 184 lbs. Steinhaus leads the country in wins by a major decision (10) this season.
THREE GOPHERS FINISHED PERFECT IN B1G
Freshman 174 pounder Logan Storley (7-0), redshirt sophomore 184 pounder Kevin Steinhaus (8-0) and redshirt sophomore Hwt. Tony Nelson (9-0) all finished with a perfect Big Ten dual record this season.
Zach Sanders is 12th all-time on the Gophers wins list. He passed Willy Short with his 19-9 major decesion over Michigan’s Mike Pizzo earlier this season. His overall record is 125-14 and he is two wins away from breaking assistant coach Luke Becker’s (126-29-0) all-time record.
15 STRAIGHT AND COUNTING
Heavyweight Tony Nelson is No. 4 in the country with a record of 22-2 overall. He currently has won 15 straight matches including a championship at the Southern Scuffle.
FOUR ALL-AMERICAN CAPTAINS
The four returning All-Americans from last season have been named as team captains for the 2011-12 season. Zach Sanders is joined by fellow senior Sonny Yohn and sophomores Kevin Steinhaus and Tony Nelson to guide the team. At the NCAA Championships last season Sanders finished 5th (125 lbs.), Yohn 7th (197 lbs.), Steinhaus 8th (184 lbs.) and Nelson 7th (Hwt.)
DEITCHLER CAREER OVER
As of Jan. 4 redshirt sophomore and former US Olympian Jake Deitchler will no longer be competing for the Gopher wrestling program due to his history with concussions that have dated back since he was 7-years old. Deitchler will still be a member of the team and will continue his education at the University of Minnesota.
BAND OF BROTHERS
This season on the Gopher roster there are three sets of brothers who are wearing the Maroon and Gold. Redshirt freshman twins Chris and Nick Dardanes are the youngest set of brothers on the team. Two other sets, who are not twins are the Yohn brothers (Cody and Sonny) and the Zilverberg’s (Danny and David). Danny is a redshirt sophomore, while Cody is a redshirt junior and both David and Sonny are redshirt seniors.
GOPHER COACHING STAFF
Minnesota's coaching staff is led by the legend J Robinson, who enters his 26th season at the helm. Longtime assistant Joe Russell left over the summer to take the head coaching job at George Mason University. Now, Brandon Eggum has moved up to Head Assistant Coach, while Luke Becker is a full-time assistant. Former National Champion Jayson Ness has also joined the staff as an assistant for the Gophers.
J IS EIGHT FROM TYING WALLY
Head coach J Robinson’s record at Minnesota is 386-129-4, in his 26th season. Robinson is only six dual wins away from tying Wally Johnson, on the all-time wins list.