Tyler Safratowich (157 pounds) and Ben Berhow (Hwt) were the only Golden Gophers to advance to the semifinal round in the opening session of the 2009 Big Ten Championships in University Park, Pa. on Saturday.
Safratowich earned a trip to the semifinals when he pinned Purdue’s Colton Salazar with just over one minute left in their quarterfinal bout. Leading by a 5-1 margin in the third period, Safratowich put Salazar on his back at the 5:43 mark, recording his eighth pin of the season. The fall victory also moved the Gopher senior into a tie for 20th on Minnesota’s all-time list with 23 career pins.
Second seeded Ben Berhow dispatched Michigan’s Eddie Phillips with a 10-3 quarterfinal win in the final match of the session. Berhow will face Wisconsin’s Kyle Massey in tonight’s semifinals. Berhow has defeated the Badger heavyweight twice this season.
In spite of solid performances by Safratowich and Berhow, Minnesota will try to atone for five quarterfinal losses in tonight’s wrestlebacks. Zach Sanders (5th seed, 125 pounds), Jayson Ness (4th seed, 133 pounds), Mike Thorn (4th seed, 141 pounds), Sonny Yohn (184 pounds) and Gordon Bierschenk (4th seed, 197 pounds) will each work to fight their way back after suffering losses in the quarterfinals.
With a win in the pigtail round, Yohn was the only one of four unseeded Gophers to earn an upset and a berth in the quarterfinals. The redshirt freshman upset fifth seeded A.J. Kissel of Purdue with a 7-3 decision to advance. Yohn earned a takedown and a two-point nearfall in the opening seconds of the match and held on for the victory.
Scott Glasser (165 pounds) wrestled top-seeded Andrew Howe of Wisconsin in a closely fought bout in the pigtail round, but could not earn an escape in the closing seconds that would have sent the match, which finished 4-3 in favor of Howe, to overtime. Glasser can still earn a podium finish with a win over seventh-seeded Paul Young of Indiana in tonight’s consolation bracket rounds.
Sanders got the session on the right foot for Minnesota when he upended unseeded Drew Hammen of Wisconsin in the pigtail round. Following a narrow 8-5 decision loss to Penn State’s Brad Pataky in the quarters, Sanders will have to battle his way through the consolation bracket starting this evening. Sanders’ journey through the wrestlebacks begins with a match against sixth-seeded Nikko Triggas of Ohio State.