2007 NCAA WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS
LOCATION: Auburn Hills, Mich.
ARENA: The Palace of Auburn Hills (14,759)
DATE: Thursday-Saturday, March 15-17
TELEVISION: The finals of the 2007 NCAA Wrestling Championships will be broadcast live on ESPN on Saturday, Mar. 17 at 7 p.m. (CST).
LIVE COVERAGE: ESPN360 will feature live coverage of the championships on both Friday and Saturday. For a schedule of ESPN360 coverage, click here. Bracket updates and team standings will be available at NCAAsports.com throughout the championships. InterMat will also provide live text coverage of each match at the 2007 NCAA Wrestling Championships.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:
Thrusday, March 15
10 a.m.........Session 1 (Pigtails and First Round)
5:30 p.m.....Session 2 (Prelims and Wrestlebacks)
Friday, March 16
10 a.m.........Session 3 (Quarterfinals and Wrestlebacks)
6 p.m...........Session 4 (Semifinals and Wrestlebacks)
Saturday, March 17
9 a.m...........Session 5 (Wrestlebacks; 3rd, 5th, 7th Place)
7 p.m...........Session 6 (Championship Finals)
All times listed as Central Standard Time
The top-ranked University of Minnesota wrestling team heads to the 2007 NCAA Championships this week at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Mich. Fresh off their second straight Big Ten title, the Golden Gophers are the favorite to win the national title.
Minnesota is sending nine wrestlers to the 2007 NCAA Championships. Redshirt freshman Jayson Ness (125) and sophomore Tyler Safratowich (165) will be making their first appearance, while sophomore Dustin Schlatter (149) and junior Manuel Rivera (141) will make their second trip to nationals. Juniors Mack Reiter (133), C.P. Schlatter (157), Gabriel Dretsch (174) and Roger Kish (184) will each be competing in their third national tournament, while senior Cole Konrad is making his fourth career appearance at the NCAA Championships.
Minnesota's NCAA Quailifiers
125 - #3 Jayson Ness, RS Fr., Bloomington, Minn. (36-3)
133 - #8 Mack Reiter, Jr., Gilbertville, Iowa (12-2)
141 - #4 Manuel Rivera, Jr., El Monte, Calif. (36-2)
149 - #1 Dustin Schlatter, So., Massillon, Ohio (32-0)
157 - #7 C.P. Schlatter, Jr., Massilon, Ohio (23-5)
165 - #14 Tyler Safratowich, So., Park Rapids, Minn. (30-12)
174 - #14 Gabriel Dretsch, Jr., Frazee, Minn. (27-11)
184 - #2 Roger Kish, Jr., LaPeer, Mich. (32-2)
Hwt - #1 Cole Konrad, Sr., Freedom, Wis. (30-0)
Minnesota is one of just four schools to qualify at least nine wrestlers for the NCAA Championships, joining Iowa State, Tennessee-Chattanooga and Wisconsin. The Cyclones are the only team that will be sending all 10 of its wrestlers to the national tournament.
The brackets for the 2007 NCAA Wrestling Championships were released on Monday night. For complete brackets, click here.
J and Minnesota at NCAAs
Head Coach J Robinson has built Minnesota into a powerhouse in the world of collegiate wrestling during his tenure in Gold Country. In his 20 seasons, Robinson has led the Golden Gophers to a top-10 finish at the NCAA Championships 14 times, including each of the past 10 seasons. Minnesota won back-to-back national titles in 2001 and ’02 and also has four runner-up finishes since 1997.
Under Robinson, the Maroon and Gold have earned 80 All-America honors, including a school-record 10 All-Americans in 2001. In 2006, Dustin Schlatter and Cole Konrad became the seventh and eighth Golden Gophers under Robinson to win an NCAA individual title. Other national champions during the Robinson era include: Damian Hahn in 2003 and ’04, Jared Lawrence and Luke Becker in 2002, Brock Lesnar in 2000, Tim Hartung in 1998 and ’99 and Marty Morgan in 1991.
NCAA Individual History
Overall, Minnesota has claimed 18 NCAA individual titles, including nine since 1997. In seven of the past nine seasons, Minnesota has had at least one national champion, including Dustin Schlatter and Cole Konrad’s titles in 2006. The Golden Gophers have three two-time NCAA champions in Verne Gagne (191/Hwt; 1949-48), Tim Hartung (190/197; 1998-99) and Damion Hahn (197; 2003-04). Minnesota’s other NCAA individual champions are Jared Lawrence (149; 2002), Luke Becker (157; 2002), Brock Lesnar (Hwt; 2000), Marty Morgan (177; 1991), Pat Neu (137; 1977), Evan Johnson (190; 1976); Dick Mueller (123; 1953), Leonard Levy (Hwt; 1941), Dale Hanson (128; 1939) and John Whitaker (175; 1937).
Minnesota will have four returning All-Americans competing in this week’s NCAA Championships. Senior Cole Konrad is looking to become the school’s fifth four-time All-American. Mack Reiter has earned All-America status each of the last two years, while Dustin Schlatter and Roger Kish will look to add their second certificate to their list of accolades.
Looking To Finish What They Started
After entering the 2006 NCAA Championships as the No. 1 team in the country, Minnesota finished a distant second to Oklahoma State, which claimed its fourth straight national title. With that in the back of their minds, the Golden Gophers aim to make sure a repeat of last year does not happen. Fresh off a dominating performance at the Big Ten Championships, Minnesota’s nine NCAA qualifiers hope to lead the Gophers back to the pinnacle of college wrestling.
Full Strength for the Stretch Run
Minnesota had two of their key wrestlers go down with injuries early in the season, but both are at full strength heading into the national tournament. Two-time All-American Mack Reiter returned to the starting lineup on Feb. 2 at Indiana after missing the first three months of the season with a knee injury suffered during preseason practice. Reigning two-time Big Ten Champion C.P. Schlatter made his return to the lineup on Jan. 13 at the National Duals after missing six weeks of action following a knee injury he suffered at the Northeast Duals on Nov. 25.
Making Their Debut
Two Golden Gopher wrestlers will be competing in their first NCAA Championships this weekend. Redshirt freshman Jayson Ness is poised to make a run at the 125-pound title, while sophomore Tyler Safratowich hopes to cap off an impressive second half of the season by capturing All-America honors.
The Rank and File
The nine wrestlers Minnesota has competing at this weekend’s NCAA Championships are a combined 78-27 against ranked opponents on the season.
Aiming for Perfection
Six wrestlers enter the NCAA Championships looking to wrap up perfect seasons, including Minnesota’s Cole Konrad and Dustin Schlatter. Konrad is 30-0 on the year and is looking to become the first wrestler in school history to post two undefeated seasons. Schlatter, who has won 74 of his 75 collegiate matches, looks to add a second national title to his trophy case in as many years. Other unbeaten wrestlers entering this week’s tournament include: Northwestern’s Ryan Lang (141) and Jake Herbert (184), Johny Hendricks (165) of Oklahoma State and Ben Askren (174) of Missouri.
BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIPS RECAP
Golden Gophers Run Away With Big Ten Championship
The Golden Gopher wrestling team crowned four individual champions en route to their second straight Big Ten Championship in East Lansing, Mich. Minnesota finished with 156 points, 55.5 ahead of second-place Wisconsin, the largest gap between the champion and its nearest competitor since 1996.
Minnesota qualified nine wrestlers for the NCAA Championships, with all nine finishing in the top five in their respective weight classes. Senior Cole Konrad became just the fourth wrestler in school history to win three individual Big Ten crowns, while brothers Dustin and C.P. Schlatter also successfully defended their 2006 Big Ten titles. Redshirt freshman Jayson Ness dominated the competition with two pins and a major decision on his way to his first conference title.
Roger Kish was unable to defend his 2006 conference title, as he ran into top-ranked Jake Herbert in the finals. Manuel Rivera had a disappointing conference tournament while wrestling with a sore knee. The top seed at 141 pounds, Rivera had his 35-match winning streak snapped with back-to-back losses before rebounding to pin Illinois’ Cassio Pero in the fifth-place match. Mack Reiter also got off to an unexpected start when he lost to Andrae Hernandez in the quarterfinals but took out his frustration by pinning three straight opponents in the consolation bracket to claim third place.
Gabriel Dretsch matched his fourth-place showing at last year’s Big Ten Championships with a solid performance in 2007. Dretsch took fourth place with a 2-2 record, with his only two losses coming in overtime.
Tyler Safratowich won his final four matches of the tournament to take third at 165 pounds. He avenged his only loss of the tournament, a narrow 6-4 overtime decision to Purdue’s Justin Fraga in the quarterfinals, by defeating Fraga, 7-5, in the third-place match.
Big Ten Awards Watch
Senior Cole Konrad was named the Big Ten Wrestler of the Year for the second straight season following his perfect 2007 campaign. He is just the third wrestler in conference history to win the award multiple times, joining Iowa’s Mark Ironside (1996-98) and Royce Alger (1987-88). With his first Wrestler of the Year award last season, Konrad became the sixth Golden Gopher to earn the honor, joining Ed Giese (1986), Dave Zuniga (1990), Marty Morgan (1991), Tim Hartung (1999) and Ryan Lewis (2002).
Jayson Ness earned Big Ten Freshman of the Year accolades, marking the third straight year a Gopher rookie has earned the award. He is the fourth Minnesota wrestler to win the award overall, joining Dustin Schlatter (2006), Mack Reiter (2005), Jared Lawrence (2000) and Keith Nix (1988).
Head coach J Robinson was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year for the seventh time in his 21 years with the Golden Gopher wrestling program. He also won the award in 1989, ’94, ’97, ’99, 2002 and ’06.
Equal Opportunity Champions
Of Minnesota’s four individual Big Ten Champions this year, there was no discrimination in terms of age. The Gophers displayed tremendous balance throughout the lineup, with one freshman (Jayson Ness), one sophomore (Dustin Schlatter), one junior (C.P. Schlatter) and one senior (Cole Konrad) each winning conference titles. Minnesota’s balance accross the board bodes well not only for this season, but also as they look to the future.
Big Ten Supremacy
Since snapping Iowa’s run of 25 consecutive conference titles at the 1999 Big Ten Championships in Ann Arbor, Mich., the Golden Gophers have claimed six of the last nine Big Ten Conference crowns to overtake the Hawkeyes as the class of the conference.
Minnesota added its 10th Big Ten title to the trophy case by claiming its second straight championship two weeks ago in East Lansing, Mich. It is just the second time in school history the Gophers have won consecutive conference titles, with the only other occurrence coming when they won three straight from 2001-03. Minnesota has finished either first or second at the Big Ten Championships nine straight seasons and has placed in the top three each of the past 11 years.
The Golphers have had a Big Ten-best 27 individual Big Ten Champions since 1999, including four this season. Cole Konrad captured his third individual title, while brothers Dustin Schlatter and C.P. Schlatter each won their second. Redshirt freshman Jayson Ness won his first individual Big Ten crown in his first conference tournament appearance.
The Golden Gophers have now had multiple champions in each of the past nine years. Prior to this stretch, Minnesota had multiple champions just 12 times in the previous 73 years. Compared to the 27 titles in the last nine years, the Gophers had 19 Big Ten Champions in the previous 19 years.
GOPHER WRESTLING NOTEBOOK
The Golden Gophers have been scoring bonus points at an impressive clip all season long and understand just how important those extra points will be in attaining their ultimate goal of capturing the national title. Minnesota wrestlers have scored bonus points in 47 percent (194-411) of their victories this season overall. The Gophers put 25.5 bonus points on the board at the Big Ten Championships, thanks to 10 pins, two major decisions, one tech fall and one win by default.
Jayson Ness has scored bonus points in 25 of his 36 victories, including 12 pins, nine majors and four tech falls. Cole Konrad has put bonus points on the board in 17 of his 30 victories, with 12 pins, four majors and a tech fall, not to mention seven wins by forfeit. Roger Kish has 32 victories on the season, with bonus points in 18 of his wins, including 11 pins, four majors and three tech falls. Manuel Rivera has put bonus points on the board in exactly half of his 36 victories, with seven pins, eight majors and three tech falls, while Mack Reiter has pinned nine of the 14 opponents he has faced since his return to the lineup.
Against the Best
All nine Golden Gophers have had their share of impressive victories this season, combining for a 20-13 record against top five opponents. Jayson Ness has defeated the last five top-five wrestlers he has faced, with three major decisions and two pins in those victories, and is 5-2 overall on the year. Manuel Rivera has defeated two of the three top five wrestlers he has faced, while Dustin Schlatter is 3-0. C.P. Schlatter is 3-3 against opponents ranked in the top five nationally, with victories over then-No. 1 Mike Poeta and No. 2 Trent Paulson to his credit. Tyler Safratowich is also an even .500 with a 2-2 record against top-five competition. Roger Kish is 4-2, with his only two losses coming against top-ranked wrestlers, while Gabriel Dretsch is 1-4 and Cole Konrad is 2-0.
Senior heavyweight Cole Konrad is currently riding the second-longest winning streak in the nation at 71 consecutive matches and will finish his career with the longest winning streak in school history. He broke the previous school record of 58 held by Tim Hartung with his win against Aaron Anspach of Penn State on Sunday, Jan. 21.
Sophomore Dustin Schlatter also surpassed Hartung’s mark in the final dual meet of the season with his win over Iowa’s Alex Grunder and has now won his last 62 matches, which currently ranks as the third-longest streak in the country.
Konrad and Schlatter trail only Missouri’s Ben Askren, the 2006 Dan Hodge Trophy winner, who has won 81 matches in a row. Here is a look at the longest active winning streaks in Division I wrestling:
81.............Ben Askren (Missouri, 174)
71.............Cole Konrad (Minnesota, Hwt)
62.............Dustin Schlatter (Minnesota, 149)
52.............Johny Hendricks (Oklahoma State, 165)
27.............Jake Herbert (Northwestern, 184)
25.............Ryan Lang (Northwestern, 141)
One Last Hurrah
Arguably the greatest wrestler in Minnesota history, senior heavyweight Cole Konrad will look to cap off his brilliant collegiate career with his second straight NCAA individual title this weekend. Konrad is aiming to join a select list of Minnesota wrestlers who have won multiple NCAA individual titles and earned All-American status four times in their careers. Only Damion Hahn (2003-04), Tim Hartung (1998-99) and Verne Gagne (1948-49) have won multiple NCAA titles, while Hahn (2001-04), Luke Becker (2000-03), Jared Lawrence (2000-03) and Chad Kraft (1996-99) are the only wrestlers in school history to earrn All-America honors four times in their careers.
Two weeks ago at the Big Ten Championships, Konrad became just the fourth wrestler in school history to win three Big Ten individual titles, joining Hartung (1997-99), Larry Zilverberg (1974-76), Dick Mueller (1953, ‘57-58) and Vern Gagne (1944, ‘47-49).
Konrad owns the longest winning streak in school history at 71 consecutive matches and needs just two pins to tie the school record for falls in a career. Only a minor shoulder injury which kept him out of action for the first two weeks of the season prevented Konrad from having a chance to challenge the school record for career victories.
No matter what age, wrestling for the Golden Gophers comes with the expectation of being extremely successful. Redshirt freshman Jayson Ness has been nothing short of spectacular this season with a 36-3 overall record. He enters the NCAA Championships riding a 19-match winning streak, including victories over the last 12 ranked opponents he has faced.
Following his dominating performance on his way to the 125-pound title at the conference championships, Ness was named the 2007 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, marking the third straight season a Gopher rookie has won the award, following Dustin Schlatter (2006) and Mack Reiter (2005).
Last season, Schlatter became the first freshman in school history to win an NCAA individual wrestling title. Ness will try to follow in his footsteps by becoming the second this weekend.
Two is Better Than One
Brothers C.P. and Dustin Schlatter have the distinction of being the only pair of brothers in school history to win individual Big Ten titles in the same season, which they have now accomplished in back-to-back years. Only two other sets of brothers in school history have both claimed individual conference crowns, with Gordy and Marty Morgan each winning Big Ten titles - Gordy in 1989 and Marty in 1990 and ‘91, as well Dan and Larry Zilverberg - Dan won in 1979 and ‘80, Larry in 1974, ‘75 and ‘76.
No brothers in school history can claim having both won NCAA individual titles.
Top-ranked sophomore Dustin Schlatter has established himself as one of the most dominant wrestlers in the country in just a short time in a Golden Gopher uniform. He is currently on a 62-match winning streak, the second-longest streak in school history. Schlatter has won 74 of 75 matches for a .987 winning percentage in his collegiate career, which currently ranks as the highest career winning percentage in school history.
One of the few freshman under Head Coach J Robinson not to redshirt, Schlatter put together one of the most remarkable rookie campaigns in school history last season with a 42-1 overall record, with his only loss of the season coming against Mark DiSalvo of Central Michigan (11/26/05). He became the first freshman in school history to win an individual national title and is the favorite to win the 149-pound crown again this year.
Sophomore Dustin Schlatter has held 18 of his 32 opponents on the season to one point or fewer. He has shut out 10 of those opponents, six of which have resulted in tech falls. He shut out three straight opponents from Nov. 25-Dec. 6 by identical 15-0 margins. Overall, he has nine tech falls, two pins and two major decisions on the year. Schlatter tied for third on the team with 78 points scored in dual meets.
Since returning from a knee injury that kept him out of the lineup until early February, two-time All-American Mack Reiter has asserted himself as a pinning machine, with nine falls in his 14 matches since his return.
The Pride of LaPeer
Junior Roger Kish will return to his home state with the hopes of winning a national title in front of his family and friends. A native of LaPeer, Mich., Kish has posted a 36-2 record this season, with his only losses coming against the top-ranked wrestlers in the country at 174 and 184 pounds.
Kish Closing In On 100
With a 32-2 record on the season, junior Roger Kish has moved within three wins of reaching the century mark for his career. With a 97-17 career record, Kish currently ranks 14th in school history with a .843 career winning percentage.
After claiming his first Big Ten title a year ago, Kish picked up right where he left off and began the season with 20 consecutive wins before dropping his first match of the year to 2006 Dan Hodge Trophy winner Ben Askren in the National Duals final. His only other loss came against top-ranked Jake Herbert in the Big Ten finals.
In addition to his Big Ten title, Kish’s 2005-06 season included a remarkable run at the NCAA Tournament which resulted in a runner-up finish. He finished 2006 with a 37-5 record, including a 17-4 mark in dual meets.
The nation’s top recruit in 2003, Kish faced adversity as a redshirt freshman in 2004-05. Cruising along at 184 pounds with a 23-6 record, Kish was sidelined for over a month during the Big Ten regular season with a skin infection. He returned in time for the Big Ten Championships and finished sixth, coming within one win of All-America status at nationals.
Manny on a Mission
After seeing limited action in 2005, Manuel Rivera worked his way into a full-time starting position last season and has continued his progression to become one of the top 141-pounders in the nation this year. Rivera posted a solid 28-15 overall record, including 5-2 in the Big Ten, en route to his first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2006. This year, he has been one of the Gophers’ most dominant performers, compiling a 36-2 record with seven pins, eight major decisions and three tech falls. Rivera has posted 14 victories over ranked opponents.