#9/6 MINNESOTA (13-7, 4-3) vs. #5/5 Ohio State (19-3, 6-1)
Location: Minneapolis, Minn.
Arena: Sports Pavilion
Date/Time: Sunday, Feb. 24, 2:00 p.m.
Webcast: A live webcast will be available in the Gold Zone at www.gophersports.com. Live match-by-match updates will also be available via the Gopher wrestling site.
Ohio State Notes to Know:
The ninth-ranked and defending national champion Golden Gopher wrestling hopes to snap a two-meet home losing streak Sunday when they host the Ohio State Buckeyes at 2:00 p.m. in the Sports Pavilion.
The Gophers lost two weekend meets at home to Illinois (19-17 Friday night) and Wisconsin (20-17 Sunday afternoon). The Gophers currently have three Big Ten losses (all of them at home), just the third time in 12 years they have lost as many Big Ten duals.
Minnesota senior C.P. Schlatter was held out of last weekend’s lineups due to injury, but is expected to be back Sunday. Schlatter is currently ranked sixth nationally at 157 pounds and has posted a 25-2 overall record.
The Gophers have won 12 meets in a row against this weekend’s opponent, Ohio State. The last time Minnesota lost to OSU was 1993.
Sunday will also mark the final home dual meet for Minnesota’s 10 seniors. Gabe Dretsch, Roger Kish, Mack Reiter, Manuel Rivera, C.P. Schlatter, Mitch Kuhlman, Jeremy Larson, Dan Jackson, Justin Bronson and Jason Waizulis have gone a combined 672-321 (.677) during their four years of official collegiate competition. They have also compiled a 74-24 dual meet record since 2003-04.
Last weekend, the Gophers welcomed back former NCAA champion Dustin Schlatter to the starting lineup. The Gophers’ all-time winning percentage leader had been out since Dec. 30 with a hamstring injury. He won both matches against Illinois and Wisconsin to improve to 15-1 on the season.
Minnesota has won 13 meets in a row in the Sports Pavilion, a streak that dates back to Feb. 20, 2005.
Seven of Minnesota’s 10 normal starters are ranked nationally in their respective weight classes currently. Jayson Ness (No. 1 at 125 pounds), Mack Reiter (No. 9 at 133 pounds), Manny Rivera (No. 5 at 141), Dustin Schlatter (No. 3 at 149 pounds), C.P. Schlatter (No. 6 at 157), Gabe Dretsch (No. 11 at 174) and Roger Kish (No. 9 at 184) all rank among the nation’s best.
Jayson Ness will continue his march to history this weekend against true freshman Nikko Triggas of OSU. After picking up two major decisions last weekend, Ness remains just two pins shy of Minnesota’s all-time record of 20.
Ness’ two wins over the weekend also improved his overall record to 32-0, giving him a 33-match winning streak. That is now the seventh-longest streak in Golden Gopher history and still the second-longest active streak at the Divison I level.
The 2008 Big Ten Championships are fast approaching. Williams Arena will play host to the nation’s premier conference tournament March 8-9. Minnesota has won the last two tournaments, winning four individual titles last year in East Lansing, Mich. The Gophers have not hosted the Big Ten Championships since 1997.
THE SERIES VS. OHIO STATE
The Golden Gophers lead the all-time series against Ohio State by a 35-10-3 margin, including a 15-8 advantage in matches held in Minneapolis. The two teams last met on Jan. 27, 2006 in Columbus, Ohio, with Minnesota claiming a 30-6 victory. The Golden Gophers have won 12 in a row in the series, including five straight wins in Minneapolis. Ohio State’s last victory in the series occurred on Feb. 20, 1993; the visiting Buckeyes claimed a 22-14 win. Head coach J Robinson owns a 14-3 career record against Ohio State.
SCOUTING THE BUCKEYES
Minnesota has dominated the all-time series with Ohio State, winning 12 in a row dating back to 1993, but OSU has put together an excellent season so far in 2007-08. The Buckeyes are currently ranked fifth in the USA Today/InterMat/NWCA national poll and have posted a 19-3 dual meet record (6-1 in the Big Ten). Ohio State has six wrestlers ranked in the top 20 nationally, including four in the top 10 No. 6 Lance Palmer (149 pounds), No. 8 Colt Sponseller (165), No. 2 Mike Pucillo (184) and No. 2 J.D. Bergman (heavyweight).
But in addition to their highly-ranked starting lineup, the Buckeyes also start three true freshmen. Sponseller, 125-pounder Nikko Triggas and 197-pounder John Weakley are all in their first seasons of collegiate competition.
SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
125 No. 1 Jayson Ness (32-0) vs. Nikko Triggas (16-12)
133 No. 9 Mack Reiter (18-6) vs. No. 13 Reece Humphrey (22-6)
141 No. 10 J Jaggers (20-5) vs. No. 5 Manuel Rivera (28-5)
149 No. 3 Dustin Schlatter (15-1) vs. No. 6 Lance Palmer (20-6)
157 No. 6 C.P. Schlatter (25-2) vs. Jason Johnstone (13-14)
165 No. 20 Tyler Safratowich (25-7) vs. No. 8 Colt Sponseller (16-1)
174 No. 11 Gabe Dretsch (25-9) vs. Alex Picazo (12-13)
184 No. 9 Roger Kish (11-5) vs. No. 2 Mike Pucillo (24-1)
197 Justin Bronson (16-14) vs. John Weakley (6-18)
285 Ben Berhow (14-15) vs. No. 2 J.D. Bergman (26-1)
GOPHERS ENDURE ROUGH WEEKEND
Minnesota will be looking to bounce back Sunday against the No. 5 Buckeyes, as the defending national champions are coming off a weekend in which they dropped two home Big Ten dual meets. Friday, Illinois marched into Williams Arena and beat the defending national champions 19-17. The Gophers were without normal starters C.P. Schlatter, Roger Kish and Justin Bronson, losing five of ten matches and surrendering bonus points twice. Minnesota held a slim 17-13 lead going into the final two matches of the night (184 and 197 pounds) but Jeremy Larson and Yura Malamura both lost close decisions to give Illinois the win.
Sunday afternoon, the Gophers lost for just the third time in 13 tries against the Wisconsin Badgers. The annual “Border Battle” went in favor of Wisconsin at Williams Arena, as Wisconsin picked up wins at at 133, 141, 157, 197 and Heavyweight. Upsets of seniors Mack Reiter and Manuel Rivera put the Gophers in an early hole, and the continued absence of 157-pound All-American C.P. Schlatter at 157 pounds also hurt Minnesota. Dallas Herbst’s pin of Yura Malamura proved the difference in the loss.
Minnesota’s three Big Ten dual meet losses is their highest total since 2004-05. The Gophers have lost three or more conference duals three times in the last 12 years. Minnesota also went 0-4 in Williams Arena during the dual meet season.
ROCKING THE PAVILION
While the Gophers have not had great luck in Williams Arena this season (going 0-4 with dual meet losses against Iowa State, Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin). But the Gophers are 2-0 in the Sports Pavilion this year and went a perfect 7-0 at the “Pav” last year en route to their national championship. The Gophers were also a perfect 4-0 at the Pavilion in 2005-06.
The last time Minnesota lost in the Sports Pavilion was Feb. 20, 2005 against Illinois, a span of 13 meets in the building.
SAYING FAREWELL TO THE SENIORS
Sunday’s dual meet with Ohio State will be the final home dual for Minnesota’s 10 seniors, the class of 2003. Gabe Dretsch, Roger Kish, Mack Reiter, Manuel Rivera, C.P. Schlatter, Mitch Kuhlman, Jeremy Larson, Dan Jackson, Justin Bronson and Jason Waidzulis comprise the remaining members of Minnesota’s 2003 recruiting class, which was ranked first in the nation at the time. Those 10 have led the Gophers to a national championship, two Big Ten championships and a 74-24 dual meet winning percentage (.755).
GOPHER SENIORS BY THE NUMBERS
Here are a few of the notable accomplishments for the Gophers’ senior class during their five years at Minnesota, broken down by numerals:
1 NCAA team titles (2007)
2 Big Ten team titles (2006, 2007)
5 All-American awards (Kish in ’06 and ’07, Reiter in ’05 and ’06, C.P. Schlatter in ’07)
4 Big Ten individual champions (Reiter in ’05, Kish in ’06, C.P. Schlatter in ’06 and ’07)
14 NCAA appearances (Dretsch has three, Reiter three, Kish three, Rivera two, Schlatter two)
.755 Dual meet winning percentage (74-24 overall record)
.692 Big Ten dual meet winning percentage (27-12)
672 Individual match wins in collegiate competition (no redshirt matches)
.677 Individual match winning percentage (672-321 record overall)
NESS HOLDS SECOND-LONGEST ACTIVE D1 WIN STREAK
As he approaches the Gophers’ single-season pins mark, Jayson Ness has quietly been approaching another historic mark. The sophomore has won 33 consecutive matches dating back to his pin of Lock Haven’s Obenson Blanc at the 2007 NCAAs. That appears to be the second-longest active winning streak in Division I college wrestling behind 2007 197-pound national champion Josh Glenn of American University. Below is a list of the other longest active streaks in college wrestling:
Longest Active Winning Streaks in D1 Wrestling
1. 35, Josh Glenn, American (12/30/07-pres.)
2. 33, Jayson Ness, Minnesota (11/10/07-pres.)
3. 24, Keith Gavin, Pittsburgh (11/11/07-pres.)
4. 23, Chad Mendes, Cal Poly (11/11/07-pres.)
NESS DOMINATES EN ROUTE TO RECORD
Sophomore Jayson Ness burst onto the wrestling scene as a redshirt freshman last year, storming to a 40-5 record and taking fifth at the 2007 NCAA Championships. This year, Ness has taken another step forward and established himself as one of the country’s most dominant athletes. The Bloomington, Minn. native is Minnesota’s remaining undefeated starter at 32-0 and has pinned a whopping 18 opponents, already the seventh-highest total in program history. Ness is just two pins shy of the Gophers’ single-season mark of 20, set by current head assistant coach (and fellow Bloomington-Kennedy alumn) Marty Morgan in 1989-90.
In addition to being just two pins shy of the Gophers’ single-season mark, Ness has scored bonus points in an amazing 84 percent of his matches this weekend (27 of 32).
Ness has beaten nine ranked wrestlers already this season, including two top-five opponents (then-No. 3 Charlie Falck of Iowa and then-No. 1 Paul Donahoe of Nebraska).
DUSTIN RETURNS TO LINEUP
Despite the two losses, the Gophers received a much-needed shot in the arm this past weekend when they welcomed two-time All-American and 2006 NCAA champion Dustin Schlatter back to the lineup. Schlatter, who has lost just three times in his collegiate career, had been absent from competition since Dec. 30 due to a hamstring injury before returning to face Illinois Friday night. Schlatter won both of his matches on the weekend to improve to 15-1 on the season, including 7-0 in dual meets. He is Minnesota’s all-time leader in winning percentage with a 94-3 career record (.969).
BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIPS FAST APPROACHING
The 2008 Big Ten Wrestling Championships, to be held in Williams Arena March 8-9, are coming up quickly. Tickets went on sale in mid-December, and 4,400 all-session passes have already been sold. The 2008 Big Ten Wrestling Championships will feature a three-session format, with Sessions 1 and 2 held on Saturday and Session 3 on Sunday.
The Big Ten Network is currently scheduled to provide live television coverage of Sunday’s conference finals. The BTN is currently available in Minnesota on DirecTV (channel 220) and Dish Network (channel 439).
Williams Arena has not played host to the Big Ten Championships since 1997, a year that saw Robinson’s Gophers finish in second place to the Iowa Hawkeyes. Since that year, Minnesota has dominated the Big Ten and established itself as one of the most dominant teams in the country. The Gophers have won six Big Ten team titles in the last nine seasons and crowned a Big Ten-best 27 individual champions during that span.