Twelve Golden Gopher wrestlers competed at the 2008 University Freestyle and Greco-Roman Nationals this weekend at the University of Akron in Akron, Ohio. Junior Tyler Safratowich took first place in the 70 kg/154.25 lbs. Freestyle weight class, while freshman Zach Sanders was runner-up at 55 kg/121 lbs.
Other Minnesota wrestlers competing in the Freestyle division included freshman David Zilverberg (60 kg/132.25 lbs.), redshirt sophomore Mike Thorn (fourth at 63 kg/138.75 lbs.), freshman Ryan Blake (63 kg/138.75 lbs.), freshman Joe Murphy (63 kg/138.75 lbs.), freshman Joe Grygelko (70 kg/154.25 lbs.), freshman Jared Rickert (70 kg/154.25 lbs.), freshman Kaleb Young (74 kg/174 lbs.), freshman Sonny Yohn (seventh at 84 kg/185 lbs.), sophomore Brent Eidenschink (84 kg/185 lbs.) and redshirt freshman Joe Nord (120 kg/264.5 lbs.).
Gophers competing in Greco-Roman included Blake, Murphy, Grygelko (fourth at 70 kg/154.25 lbs.), Rickert, Young, and Eidenschink. Minnesota’s wrestlers compete for the Minnesota Storm wrestling club during the Freestyle and Greco-Roman seasons.
Safratowich, who was the Gophers’ starter at 165 pounds and compiled a 28-10 record during the 2007-08 collegiate season (including 13-2 in dual meets), cruised through five opponents before meeting Joel Ahearn of the Naval Academy Wrestling Club in the finals. Safratowich defeated Ahearn 3-0 and 1-0 to take home the tournament crown.
Sanders defeated both Michael Martinez (Cowboy Wrestling Club) and unattached Matthew Steintrager before losing 3-1, 0-3, 3-1 to Penn State’s Brad Pataky in the championship match. He then won by forfeit over Obenson Blanc in the true second place match-up.
Thorn advanced as far as the tournament semifinals before losing to Ohio State’s Reece Humphrey.
Seven wrestlers, including recent 2008 NCAA Division I national champion Keith Gavin (Pittsburgh) and 2007 NCAA champion Jake Herbert from Northwestern captured gold medals in their weight classes at the event and earned a spot in the U.S. Olympic Trials team in Las Vegas, Nev., June 13-15.