TITLE TIME FOR THE GOPHERS
Minnesota returns to the NCAA championships to close out the 2011-12 season. The Gophers will send nine of 10 weight classes to the National Tournament and are one of five schools to enter nine competitors. Zach Sanders, Chris Dardanes, Nick Dardanes, Dylan Ness, Logan Storley, Cody Yohn, Kevin Steinhaus, Sonny Yohn and Tony Nelson will all wrestle on the mat this weekend. The NCAA championships will run from Mar. 15-17 inside the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo., starting with Session I at 11 a.m. on Thursday.
OTHER WAYS TO FOLLOW THE CHAMPIONSHIPS
Fans can follow the week a few different ways. One way will be a live blog on gophersports.com, which will be active Thursday morning. The blog will give fans updates, news and information during the course of the sessions.
Follow Gopher Wrestling on Twitter? You should and you will be able to receive live updates during the week. The Golden Gopher Wrestling Facebook page will also bring you updates.
The Gophers finished the 2011-12 season with a record of 14-3 overall and a 7-1 mark in Big Ten duals. Minnesota’s lone Big Ten loss was against Iowa, while the other losses came to Cornell and Oklahoma State. This was the seventh straight season that Minnesota has won 10 or more dual matches.
ALL-TIME AT THE NCAA’S
Minnesota has won three National titles, with its last dating back to the 2006-07 season. The Gophers finished with 98 points and Cole Konrad was the lone NCAA Champion in the heavyweight division. Minnesota’s other two championships were back in both 2001 and 2002 when they won back-to-back titles. In 2001 Minnesota recorded All-Americans at all ten weight classes. A year later the Maroon and Gold placed seven All-Americans including National Champions at 149 pounds (Jared Lawrence) and 157 pounds (Luke Becker) en route to a perfect 19-0 season.
A YEAR AGO
Five Golden Gophers earned All-American status a year ago. Of those five,four of them will be competing again this year in hopes to add to their accolades. Zach Sanders finished fifth a year ago at 125 pounds, Kevin Steinhaus placed eighth at 184 pounds, Sonny Yohn was seventh at 197 and Tony Nelson finished in the heavyweight division.
All four will wrestle in the same division as they did a year ago in Philadelphia. Sanders and Nelson each earned the second seed. Steinhaus is the fifth, while Yohn is the 10th.
LOOKING TO BE A FOUR TIMER
Senior Zach Sanders is a three-time All-American at 125 pounds. Sanders enters his final NCAA championships as the No. 2 overall seed. His has a record of 26-3 this season, with all three losses coming to Big Ten foe Matt McDonough from Iowa. The Wabasha, Minn., native finished runner-up to McDonough in the Big Ten Championship.
The three-time All-American has a career record of 128-26 and is ranked ninth on the all-time wins list. Sanders will be looking to become the just the fifth four-time All-American in Minnesota history.
LAST TIME FOR SONNY
Sonny Yohn along with Sanders will be wrestling for the final time in the Maroon and Gold this week. Yohn has a career record of 106-40, which puts him 30th on the all-time wins list. This will be his fourth straight trip the NCAA’s.
A year ago Yohn picked up his second consecutive All-American finish at the championships. He is coming off a third place finish at the Big Ten Championships and has drawn the No. 2 seed.
HOUSE EARNS B1G CHAMPIONSHIP
184-pounder Kevin Steinhaus is coming off his first Big Ten individual title. The redshirt sophomore went 4-0 in West Lafayette, including a thrilling 3-1 overtime win over Nebraska’s Josh Ihnen for the championship.
Last year Steinhaus took eighth at his first NCAA Championship. He leads the team with 10 victories by a major decision.
20-STRAIGHT FOR NELSON
En route to his first Big Ten title, Tony Nelson has won 20 straight matches in the heavyweight division. The Cambridge native is coming finished with a perfect 12-0 record against Big Ten opponents this season and has the No. 2 seed this weekend Nelson will also be looking for his second All-American honor.
MAJOR STEINHAUS IN THE HOUSE
Kevin Steinhaus has 10 wins by major decision this season. He recorded five straight wins this season by a major and was also named Big Ten Wrestler of the Week after defeating top-ranked Quentin Wright earlier this season. The Pennock native is coming off a Big Ten individual title and has also won 19 straight matches including a perfect 13-0 record against Big Ten foes.
J IS FOUR FROM TYING WALLY
Head coach J Robinson’s record at Minnesota is 388-129-4, in his 26th season. Robinson is only four dual wins away from tying Wally Johnson, on the all-time wins list (392-209-11).
GOPHERS INNER CIRCLE
Make sure to check out the Minnesota Wrestling Blog (Gophers Inner Circle) on gophersports.com for news, features, videos and more.