Amateur Wrestling News released their preseason individual rankings recently, and had six Golden Gophers honored among the top-20 in their weight class.
Seniors Jayson Ness (Bloomington, Minn.) and Dustin Schlatter (Massillion, Ohio) led the way for the University of Minnesota, each garnering a second place ranking at 133 and 165 pounds respectively. Each enters their final collegiate season as a three-time All-American and will be striving to become the sixth and seventh four-time All-Americans in Golden Gopher history.
Ness posted a 38-8 record last season and placed third at the NCAA Championships at 133 pounds. Schlatter was a red-shirt last season, but in 2007-08 he ripped off a 21-5 record and placed seventh at the NCAA Championships. Ness and Schlatter have each won over 100 career matches and can finish among the all-time win leaders at the season's conclusion.
Another returning All-American, Zach Sanders (Wabasha, Minn.), enters 2009-10 with a top-five ranking, beginning the season at No. 4 at 125 pounds. As a freshman last season, Sanders led the Golden Gophers with 39 wins and was named to the Amateur Wrestling News All-Rookie team. In his initial trip to the NCAA Tournament, Sanders won four matches and finished in sixth place.
Junior Mike Thorn (St. Michael, Minn.) is coming off his first career trip the national tournament as a sophomore in 2008-09, and enters the season with a No. 12 ranking among 141 pounders. Thorn won 29 matches last season, 10 by fall, and finished fifth in the Big Ten. He opened the season with 12 straight victories.
Ben Berhow (Hayward, Minn.) is the final Golden Gopher who returns with experience from the NCAA Championships, having qualified in each of his previous two seasons. Berhow is the 13th ranked heavyweight in the nation, entering his junior year. As a sophomore in 2008-09, Berhow won 27 matches, and was the only member of the Gophers to go 8-0 in the Big Ten. In the Big Ten Tournament, he closed with a fourth place finish.
Lastly, Sonny Yohn (Alamosa, Colo.) earns a No. 18 tally at 184 pounds as he begins his sophomore year. In his first season on the mat for the Golden Gophers in 2008-09, Yohn won 11 matches and was a starter in all eight Big Ten duals. He closed the season with a seventh place finish at the Big Ten Championships.
The Golden Gophers begin their season on Nov. 14 at the Bison Open. Minnesota's first dual of the season is at home in Williams Arena on Nov. 28 when they host Cal State-Bakersfield.