Omaha, Neb. - Session III started in grand fashion for the Gophers this morning (Mar. 19), with five consecutive wins. Zach Sanders (Wabasha, Minn.), Jayson Ness (Bloomington, Minn.), Mike Thorn (St. Michael, Minn.) Cody Yohn (Alamosa, Colo.) and Scott Glasser (Bismarck, N.D.) all opened the day with wins, but the most notable of course was Ness.
The senior becomes just the sixth Golden Gopher ever to earn All-America honors all four years, as he advanced to the semifinals tonight. He was his 31st straight match, beating No. 8 seed Tyler Graff of Wisconsin 4-0. Ness finds himself in the semifinals for the fourth time in his career, having advanced to the National Championship match once previously.
As a team the Gophers climbed up one spot to seventh, holding 35.0 points, just ahead of Penn State and Wisconsin with 33.0 in eighth, but eight behind Oklahoma State with 43.0 in sixth. Iowa has strengthened their grip on first place, extending their lead to 19.0 points with 73.0 through three sessions, ahead of second place Cornell with 54.0. Iowa State and Ohio State with 46.0 and Oklahoma with 44.0 round out the top-five.
Iowa is riding the strength of five wrestlers still in championship contention, whereas Ness is the Gophers last undefeated competitor. Sonny Yohn (Alamosa, Colo.) and Ben Berhow (Hayward, Minn.) each joined Ness in the championship bracket at the start of the day, but lost in their quarterfinal matches to top-seeded opponents.
Sonny Yohn lost to the nation's No. 1 seed in Jake Varner from Iowa State. A close match throughout, Varner scored just one takedown in a 4-0 victory, beating Yohn for the second time on the season. The No. 8 seed, Yohn will face unseeded Brent Jones with a win meaning All-America status.
Ben Berhow (Hayward, Minn.) is also one win away from being an All-American, after entering the tournament unseeded. He fell out of the championship round, losing 2-1 in the tiebreaker to Zachery Rey of Lehihg, his third straight match that went to overtime. Berhow must now face Jarrod Trice of Central Michigan, the No. 7 seed entering the tournament.
Sanders and Thorn each won twice in the morning session, advancing in the consolation bracket. After a disappointing loss to start the tournament, Sanders has now won three straight and is one win from his second All-American certificate. He began the day with an 8-5 decision over Frank Lomas of Cal State Bakersfield, beating him for the second time on the season. He then took down Jason Lara of Oregon State to advance to Session IV tonight. This evening he'll Fred Santaite from Boston University.
Third seeded Thorn rebounded from a loss last night to notch his second major decision of the tournament with a 9-1 win over Chris Drouin of Arizona State. He then came from behind to win by fall over Todd Schavrein of Missouri, beating him for the second time. His second appearance at the NCAA Tournament, he is one win away from becoming an All-American, and he'll face Seth Ciasuli from Lehigh to get there.
After opening with wins on the day, Cody Yohn and Glasser lost in their second match, ending their seasons. Each went 2-2 in their first appearance at the National Championships, and return next season. Yohn, a freshman who split time at weights classes, finishes the season 23-17 with a 7-10 mark at 165. Glasser, a junior Big Ten runner-up, ends the year 32-8, as the team wins leader.
Berhow, Ness, Sanders, Thorn, and Sonny Yohn will return to the mat tonight for Session IV at 6:30. Ness is one win away from a national championship match, while the rest are two wins away from the third place match.