Omaha, Neb. - Jayson Ness (Bloomington, Minn.) will wrestle in his second NCAA title match Saturday night, after improving to 30-0 today (Mar. 19). Ness, Zach Sanders (Wabasha, Minn.), Mike Thorn (St. Michael, Minn.) and Sonny Yohn (Alamosa, Colo.) are all still alive as Minnesota enters the last day in eighth place in the team standings.
Ness improved to 30-0 on the season, earning his second career berth in the NCAA Championship match. Ness had not wrestled a match in overtime all season, but almost made up for it all at once tonight. After a scoreless three periods with Oklahoma State's Jordan Oliver, it took Ness until the second tiebreaker before he claimed the 1-0 victory, totaling 11 minutes of wrestling. In the championship match, top-seeded Ness will face second seeded Daniel Dennis of Iowa, their third meeting of the season. A win gives Ness his first national title, the 16th in school history, as well as just the sixth undefeated season ever.
Ness was the last Gopher to appear in a national championship match when he did so two years ago. He can become the Gophers' first NCAA Champion since Cole Konrad in 2007, and their lightest National Champion since Dick Mueller won the 123 pound title in 1953.
Dennis is one of four Hawkeyes to wrestle for an NCAA title tomorrow, as Iowa has a nearly 50 point lead in the team standings. In first with 120.5, Iowa leads second place Cornell with 75.0. Iowa State is in third with 67.0 points, while Wisconsin and Oklahoma State round out the top-five with 62.0 and 60.5 points, respectively. Early in the session, the Gophers climbed up to No. 5 in the team standings, but late losses pushed them back down to eighth.
At 125, Sanders still has a opportunity to finish in third place, and a win Saturday morning will give him the chance. Sanders was an impressive 4-0 on Friday, and has now won five straight since opening up with a loss on Thursday. He will have a steep task to get to the third place match, though, as top-seeded Angel Escobedo of Indiana is his morning opponent. Sanders lost his lone match to Escobedo this season and lost twice to him at last season's NCAA Tournament.
Thorn and Yohn won and lost in session four, and will wrap up their seasons in the seventh place match. Thorn lost a hard fought 3-2 decision to Zack Bailey of Oklahoma and will now face 11th seeded Christopher Diaz of Virginia Tech. One more win will give Thorn 29 on the season, tying his total from last season.
Yohn lost to Trevor Brandvold of Wisconsin, who he also recently lost to in the Big Ten title match. In the seventh place match, Yohn will meet Alan Gelogaev from Oklahoma State for the second time in the tournament. In their first match, Yohn won 4-3 to advance to the quarterfinals and send Gelogaev to the consolation bracket.
Ben Berhow (Hayward, Minn.) had his tournament come to an end this evening, losing in overtime for the second straight match. All four of Berhow's matches went past regulation, including this time against Jerod Trice of Central Michigan as Berhow suffered a 6-5 defeat in the second tiebreaker. Berhow took the lead with a takedown with just seconds left, but Trice escaped to save his chances. In his third run at the NCAA Championships, Berhow misses by just a point on that elusive All-America honor. His season ends with a 23-13 overall mark which included a third place finish at the Big Ten Championships.
Thorn, Sanders and Yohn will wrestle Saturday morning 10:00 a.m., with Ness not set to take the mat until the championship session at 6:30 p.m.