Pair of Gophers Earn U23 Team USA Spot
Oct. 8, 2017

Both a current and a former University of Minnesota wrestling standouts earned a spot on the U23 Team USA roster for the U23 World Championships that are set in Bydgoszcz, Poland on Nov. 21-26.

Sophomore Mitch McKee, 61-kilograms, and Michael Kroells, 125-kilograms, won their respective brackets to guarantee a spot on the Team USA roster. 

McKee won his bracket in 61-kilograms and did not give up a single point until his second match in the finals, where he won 15-4.

McKee won every match by tech fall, and after McKee took silver in the Junior World Championships in Tempere, Finland, will take his talents back to Europe and test his luck on the international stage once again.


Gopher alumnus Michael Kroells made his first ever USA team with his impressive run in the 125-kilogram bracket. Kroells marched his way to the finals with some tighter matches. Winning the first match by decision 4-0 and then earning a finals spot with a 13-3 tech fall against Joey Goodhart who had a bye in the first round.

Kroells was able to take the first match of the finals by tech fall, 10-0 over his finals opponent Youssif Hemida. The next round was much closer with Kroells taking the match 9-4.

Junior Steve Polakowski lost his first round matchup by tech fall, and then advanced on a bye in the consolation before he defeated KeVionne Robbins by tech fall, 10-0 to advance to the third place match in the 61-kilogram bracket. Polakowski was defeated, and settled for a fourth place finish.

After receiving a bye in his first round in the 57-kilogram bracket, Skyler Petry but was then defeated by tech fall in the second round, 12-1. Steve Bleise was able to respond after his first round loss in the 70-kilogram bracket. He won his second match by tech fall over Josh Heil. Bleise then fell in his next match 7-6 in a tough match that went down to the wire.

The Gophers had a pair of participants in the 86-kilogram bracket. Alumnus Brett Pfarr had a bye in his first round, and then opened up with a big 12-3 decision victory over Richard Robertson. Then he took on Samuel Brooks for a chance to advance to the finals but was defeated in a tough 4-0 decision.

Faris Karaborni fell in his first match by tech fall, and was able to pick up a victory in the consolation bracket 15-4 before dropping by tech fall to wrap up his time in Rochester.

McKee and Kroells will travel to Poland for the Nov. 21-26 tournament. For McKee, who is a sophomore this season, may be coming off a dual in Stillwater, Okla. against Oklahoma State on Nov. 19, and will make the trip before the Gophers head to Las Vegas, Nev. for the Cliff Keen Invitational on Dec. 1-2.

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