The Minnesota wrestling program gathered at the Minneapolis Gateway Hotel Sunday night to celebrate its 2008-09 season at the Golden Gophers’ annual awards banquet.
The Gophers concluded the season with a 15-8 dual-meet record and a fifth-place finish at the Big Ten Championships. Three Minnesota wrestlers went on to earned All-America honors at the NCAA Championships, marking the fifth consecutive season that the Gophers have had at least three All-Americans.
Junior Jayson Ness, who collected his third All-America certificate with his third-place finish in the 133-pound class, received the program’s highest award as the Most Valuable Wrestler. He closed out the 2008-09 campaign with a 38-8 record, including a team-high 19 by fall to break the school record for career wins by pinfall, and also earned one of the team’s two academic awards for excellence in the classroom.
The program’s Most Outstanding Freshman award went to Zach Sanders. Sanders, who also was named the Most Exciting Wrestler, posted a record of 39-10 during his collegiate debut season, while claiming All-America honors with a sixth-place finish in his first appearance at the NCAA Championships.
The Most Dedicated Wrestler Award went to sophomore Mike Thorn, who also earned a berth at nationals. Sophomore Ben Berhow was named the Chirs Berglin Most Improved Wrestler, while senior Tyler Safratowich picked up the Verne Gagne Leadership Award.
The Fraser Dean Most Courageous Wrestler award was shared by Matthew Everson and Gordon Bierschenk.
2008-09 Minnesota Gopher Wrestling Team Awards
M’ Club First-Year Letterwinners
Most Outstanding Freshman
Most Exciting Wrestler
Most Dedicated Wrestler
Chris Berglin Most Improved Wrestler
Fraser Dean Most Courageous Wrestler
Verne Gagne Leadership Award
Most Valuable Wrestler
Jayson Ness (3rd, 133)
Zach Sanders (6th, 125)
Tyler Safratowich (8th, 157)