Gophers are Settling for Nothing Less and Expecting More
Oct. 10, 2011
Gophers are Settling for Nothing Less and Expecting More
The University of Minnesota Golden Gopher wrestling program is ready to get back to action this year. 2011-12 starts a new chapter for the Maroon and Gold, as they are putting last year’s seventh place finish at the NCAA Championships away for good. As a team, the Gophers are going to be settling for nothing less and expecting more in the end.
With four All-Americans (Zach Sanders, Sonny Yohn, Kevin Steinhaus and Tony Nelson) back to lead an experienced and hungry pack, the Gophers are ready to get things rolling. Seven of nine competitors, from last year’s NCAA Championships in Philadelphia return. Minnesota will be looking to claim their fourth national championship this season.
Head Coach J Robinson enters his 26th year as head coach of the Gophers and his staff believes in one thing and that is getting better each day.
“As a staff our focus is going to be getting better every day,” Robinson said. “I think if we do that, where we end up at the end of the year, is exactly where want to end up. The key is finding a plan and that is going to be continuing improving every day.”
The Minnesota coaching staff has done a little shuffling around the office over the offseason. Long-time assistant Joe Russell, has left the Gopher program to become the head coach at George Mason University. That has now opened the door for Brandon Eggum to move into the assistant head coach position and Luke Becker, to the assistant coach position. Eggum has been an assistant for over ten years, while Becker has been a volunteer assistant for the last nine.
"One of the things we wanted to do was to keep the continuity in the program," Robinson said. "I think Brandon and Luke have the philosophy that we strive on and that's being aggressive, as well as being dominant. I think they will bring that same thought process into their new jobs."
The four All-Americans have been named captains for the 2011-12 season. Seniors Sanders and Yohn have been tabbed to lead the team, along with sophomores Steinhaus and Nelson.
“Having great leaders is an important factor in achieving success here at Minnesota,” new assistant head coach Brandon Eggum said. “We are fortunate to have captains with great leadership and characteristics.”
Going into the 2011-12 season the line-up returns some familiar faces and a solid group of veterans who have the experience.
Senior All-American Zach Sanders finished fifth at the NCAA Championships last spring. Sanders, is a three-time All-American at 125 lbs, who has placed fifth at nationals the last two years.
The Wabasha, Minn., native went 34-6 last season with seven pins. He holds a career record of 102-23 with 28 pins.
“We are anchored at this weight class,” Robinson said. “Sanders has the potential to be a National Champion and becoming a four-time All-American, which doesn’t happen very often. “
Sanders also placed third at the Big Ten Championships and earned Academic All-Big Ten honors.
David Thorn and Chris Dardanes are set to compete for the 133 slot. A year ago Thorn held the top spot at this class, as he finished last season 16-13 overall, with a seventh place finish at the Big Ten Championships. Thorn competed at the NCAA Championships and had a two wins.
“This is a great class with two potential All-Americans,” Robinson said. “Thorn has worked very hard in the offseason. He is intense and has good feet. Chris (Dardness) is an intense wrestler, has great focus and he will push David (Thorn), which will give us great competition.”
This weight class will have a few guys competing for the top spot in the end. Bart Reiter, who has moved up a class from 133, along with Nick Dardanes and Seth Lange will all be pushing for the 141 position. Reiter, finished with a record of 11-7 last season at 133 pounds, while Dardanes went 20-4 after winning both the Kaufman-Brand Open and Husky Open. Lange was 17-2 with titles at the Dartronics Open and Flash Open.
“People are excited for Dylan. Last year he placed at the Midlands Championships,” Robinson said. “He is going to push some guys around the country and give them a fight.”
“Danny had a great year last year as a freshman,” He improved as the season went on and gained a lot of confidence.”
After battling a series of concussions, Jake Deitchler is schedule to contend for a spot in the Gopher line-up. Dietchler, who represented Team USA at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, has only competed in open meets and that was back in 2009.
“He (Deitchler) has a chance to be back. We are bringing him back slowly,” Robinson said. “If he makes it back and is able to go, it will put a lot of stability in this class.
“The last two years he has been so close at the NCAA Championships,” Robinson said. “He is ready to step it up a notch. He was ranked in the top eight last year and he has the capability in becoming an All-American. He needs to get better and better each practice.”
Looking at Storley, the Roslyn, SD native was a six-time state champion in the state of South Dakota. Storley was named the 2011 Jr. Hodge award winner and won the Disney Dual MVP honors after finishing 12-0.
“Storley is a kid who wants to wrestle,” Robinson said. “A lot of freshman come in and don’t want to wrestle, but it makes a statement about his confidence, with wanting to wrestle right away.”
Steinhaus, who picked up his first All-American honors with an eighth place finish at the NCAA Championships, finished with a record of 34-12 for the Gophers at 184 pounds. Hailing from Pennock, Minn., Steinhaus also recorded 11 major decisions in the 2010-11 season. He placed second at the Big Ten Championships after falling 3-4 against the Nittany Lions Quentin Wright.
“He (Steinhaus) brings in a great presents and he is diligence,” Robinson said. “He does what he is supposed to and even more than what is asked of him. He represents the way we want to wrestle, which is hard, aggressive and dominant.”
“This is Sonny’s (Yohn) year to win it all,” Robinson said. “He fought an injury last year and came back in the end to find himself as an All-American. I think he is ready and he knows what he has to do to win.”
“He (Nelson) had a great learning year last year,” Robinson said. “He is very intelligent and has all the tools. His expectations are going to be different this year than last year. He is going to expect more in the end.”
2011-12 Minnesota Golden Gopher Wrestling Schedule