Jayson Ness recorded a pair of wins by fall in Saturday’s evening session, breaking Minnesota’s school record for career pins. Ness broke the record formerly held by Billy Pierce (1992-96) with his 52nd and 53rd career pins. The two-time All-American pinned Wisconsin’s Tom Kelliher in 1:25 and stuck Matt Ortega of Indiana in 2:20 to advance to the consolation semifinals.
Iowa owns a comfortable lead in the team standings with 110.0 points. After sitting in ninth position after the morning session, the Gophers inches up the standings into seventh position entering Sunday matches. Minnesota still has eight wrestlers alive in the consolation bracket.
Led by Ness, the Gophers rallied from a troublesome opening session with several key wins in Saturday’s evening session. Matt Everson (174 pounds) and Sonny Yohn (184 pounds) won key bouts in the consolation brackets to assume themselves a podium finish in spite of entering the tournament unseeded.
“I think we were able to regain our focus a little bit tonight. We’ve got six guys wrestling here this weekend that have never been to a Big Ten Tournament, and I think nerves got to some of them earlier today,” Minnesota head coach J Robinson said. “I think we got back on track tonight, but we’ve got to come back tomorrow and wrestle well in the placing rounds.”
Zach Sanders, Ness and Mike Thorn helped Minnesota to get off on the right foot with wins in the first three matches of the evening. Sanders’ major decision victory of Ohio State’s sixth-seeded Nikko Triggas precluded Ness’ record-breaking pin. Thorn followed with an 8-3 decision win over Purdue’s Juan Archuleta. Each of the three also won their second matches of the day in the consolation round to earn spots in the consolation semifinals.
Everson rallied to earn a podium finish when he pinned seventh-seeded Robert Kellogg of Northwestern in a consolation round bout. Everson earned the fall after taking Kellogg down near the edge of the mat midway through the second period. Following a loss to sixth-seeded Trevor Perry, Everson will wrestle Michigan State’s Ian Hinton for seventh place in the 174-pound bracket tomorrow. The Mitchell, S.D. native has split a pair of matches this season with Hinton, including a 12-7 decision in the pigtail round earlier in the tournament.
Yohn, a redshirt freshman, edged his way into the top eight with a 2-0 overtime win over Penn State’s Jack Decker in the wrestlebacks. Starting on top in a second overtime period, Yohn spun Decker around and earned a two-point nearfall to silence an otherwise boisterous Penn State crowd to clinch a podium finish. Yohn will meet Wisconsin’s Eric Bugenhagen, with whom he has split a pair of 3-2 decisions this season, for seventh place during tomorrow’s placing rounds.
Tyler Safratowich met Illinois’ top-seeded Mike Poeta in a semifinal at 157 pound semifinal, but dropped an 8-5 decision. Poeta, ranked first in the nation by Amateur Wrestling News this week, rallied after the Minnesota senior recorded a takedown in the opening seconds of the match. Trailing 6-5 late in the match, Safratowich was unable to secure a final takedown and succumbed when Poeta sealed the win with a counter.
Ben Berhow (2nd seed, Hwt) dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to Wisconsin’s Kyle Massey in the only other semifinal appearance for a Gopher on Saturday. Berhow will face Indiana’s fifth-seeded Nate Everhart with a berth in the third place match at stake in tomorrow’s first session.
Sunday’s final session gets underway from the Bryce Jordan Center on the campus of Penn State at 11:00 a.m. (CT). Log on to gophersports.com throughout the day to follow the Gophers’ progress.