We know you do your best to keep up with everything happening around the Gopher Wrestling program, but sometimes you miss a story or a release or a juicy tidbit. This offseason, we’ll do our best to round up the news of the previous month in our new News & Notes feature.
From the Desk of Brandon Eggum
While some may say it’s the offseason, those close to wrestling know there is no offseason. That’s one of the reasons we are continuing this brand-new newsletter for our fans. Although we aren’t producing weekly Coach’s Corner features for our website, we know you’d still like to keep up with everything happening around our program, and we are happy to share.
As I’ve shared with many of you, I am incredibly proud of the way our guys competed this postseason at the NCAA Championships, with many of them wrestling above their seeds. Both FloWrestling and The Open Mat celebrated us as a team that did more than expected in the tournament.
While the NCAA season is behind us, we’re getting ready for our current guys and alums to compete on the freestyle circuit this summer. I hope you have a chance to follow along, either in person, through this newsletter or by catching updates and stories on GopherSports.com. Another great way to keep up with what’s happening, if you don’t already, is to follow Gopher Wrestling on Facebook and Twitter.
Sports Pavillion to be Renamed Maturi Pavillion
By the time the Gophers get their 2017-2018 season underway, they will be playing in the newly renamed Maturi Pavillion. Formally known as Sports Pavillion, the facility’s formal name will be the Joel Maturi University Sports Pavilion and the building’s exterior will bear the name “Maturi Pavilion”. The renaming will be unveiled as part of a brief public ceremony beginning at 5 p.m., prior to the Gophers Volleyball match against Tennessee on September 2, 2017.
McKee’s World Championship Run
On the junior-level, it was the Mitch McKee show on the world stage. McKee earned a spot at the national team trials by repeating as the junior national champion at 60-killograms. At the United States trials, McKee enjoyed redemption after a 2-1 loss the year prior, he flipped the script and won the best of three-series 2-1 and earned a spot on the world team, and headed to Finland as the top 60-killogram wrestler at 20 years or younger. At the Junior World Championships in Finland, McKee dazzled. He quickly became a fan favorite after three comeback victories to earn a finals spot. In the end, McKee was defeated, but finished with the silver medal in Tampere, Finland. Multiple other Gophers enjoyed rides to the team trials, including incoming Gopher Owen Webster.
HUGE round of applause for an incredible Junior Worlds debut by McKee #Tampere2017
— USA Wrestling (@USAWrestling) August 1, 2017
— Trackwrestling (@trackwrestling) August 1, 2017
Pat Smith Grabs Gold, Headed to Paris
The Gophers represented well at the 2017 U.S. Open in Las Vegas, Nev. at the end of April. The headline was Pat Smith, a former Minnesota wrestler, who won the 71-killogram Greco title, and earned a spot on the American team for the 2017 World Championships, which will be held in Paris in late August. Alec Ortiz also performed well in Greco, finishing seventh in the 75-killogram division. Former Minnesota great and current volunteer coach Zach Sanders finished fifth in the freestyle 57-killogram bracket. Placing fifth as well was Tony Nelson in the 125-killogram tournament. Daniel DeShazer finished the highest of the current Gophers at the event, taking eighth place in the 61-killogram bracket. Current Minnesota wrestler Bobby Steveson and former great Dylan Ness made it to the round of 12 before being eliminated. FULL RESULTS.
Future Gophers Perform at Fargo 2017
Multiple Gophers who have signed their National Letter of Intent competed at the Junior National Championships in Fargo, ND in July. Brent Jones of Shakopee, Minn. was the top finisher of the four signees. His third-place finish came int he 132-pound bracket, including six straight victories (three by tech), and two falls in just 35 and 73-seconds to wrap up his last two matches. Jakob Bergeland finished in fourth in the 138-pound tournament, and Jake Allar finished in sixth to wrap up the future Gophers on the podium in Fargo.
— Minnesota Wrestling (@GopherWrestling) July 28, 2017
Minnesota Wrestlers Highly Ranked in Classroom
This past season the Gopher wrestling program established a new program-record for team GPA. Minnesota wrestlers finished with a combined GPA of 3.17 in the spring semester and a 3.0 in the fall to finish with a 3.09 for the 2017-2018 school year. In total, more than 20 Gopher wrestlers held at least a 3.0 GPA. This helped the team get recognized by the National Wrestling Coaches' Association (NWCA) as the Big Ten's top academic program.
NCAAs Returning to Minnesota
On April 18, the NCAA announced the winners of dozens of bids to host a wide variety of NCAA Championships. It was a good day for the Gophers, who were awarded four different championships. One of those winning bids awarded the University and U.S. Bank Stadium the 2020 NCAA Wrestling Championships! It will be the first time since 1996 the NCAA tournament will be here in the Twin Cities. The venue will make it a groundbreaking event for college wrestling. U.S. Bank Stadium is by far the largest facility to host the event, providing opportunities for more fans than ever before to be a part of the most exciting event in college athletics. This event will be great for Minnesota wrestling fans. It will also provide great visibility for the Gopher Wrestling program, which always helps with recruiting.
Logan Storley Wins Bellator Debut
The Minnesota pipeline to Mixed Martial Arts continued with former Gopher Logan Storley winning his Bellator debut on July 14 against Kemmyelle Haley (7-4) by overwhelming him with elbow blows in the first round. Using his superior wrestling skills, Storley quickly took Haley to the mat, gaining top control within the first twenty seconds. He then moved to Haley’s left side and controlled a side mount where Storley unleashed a barrage of right elbows, ending the fight just a minute and forty seconds into the first round.
At the team awards banquet at the beginning of the offseason, Hunter Marko was named the program’s Freshman Acadmic Award winner. It is always great to see student-athletes perform in the classroom, and Marko has gotten out to a great start since joining the Gophers. The Amery, Wis. native had his first season cut short due to injury, but finished his redshirt freshman season with a 10-6 record with four major decisions and two pins.
It may by the college wrestling offseason, but there’s no offseason for the Gopher Wrestling program. Whether it’s to hear the latest news about Gopher coaches or athletes during the summer months, or just for general news about the program, GopherSports.com is your home for all things Gopher Wrestling. Be sure to follow Gopher Wrestling on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates as well.
Meet Newcomer Steve Bleise
This week we meet with Steve Bleise, a redshirt junior from Chelsea, Mich. who was an All-State wrestler in high school.
Wrestling Welcomes Fans to Open Practice
Fans who are eager for wrestling season will have an opportunity to come have an early look at the 2017-18 Gopher wrestling team.
Big Ten Announces Wrestling Broadcast Schedule
The Big Ten Conference office announced today its broadcast schedule for the 2017-18 wrestling season, which will include three of eight road duals for the Gophers this season.