St. Louis Park, Minn. - InterMat (intermatwrestle.com) recently released their preseason Top-25, and the University of Minnesota wrestling team found themselves ranked fifth.
The Golden Gophers are coming off a season where they placed 14th at the NCAA Championships and fifth in the Big Ten. Ranked number one in the InterMat Preseason rankings is defending National Champion Iowa. Iowa State is second in the InterMat rankings, just ahead of reining national runner-up, Ohio State, who sits in third. Cornell begins the preseason at number four in the nation while Minnesota rounds out the top-five.
At number one, the Hawkeyes lead seven total Big Ten teams to begin the season in the top-25. In addition to the top-five Buckeyes and Gophers, Wisconsin, Penn State, Indiana and Michigan State are all ranked by InterMat. Wisconsin begins the season just outside the top-ten at No. 11 while Penn State and Indiana close out the top-15 at No. 14 and 15 respectively. Lastly Michigan State is the 21st ranked team among the InterMat top-25. With seven ranked teams, the Big Ten is the best represented conference in the rankings.
This is the second No. 5 ranking for Gopher Wrestling this preseason, as Wrestling Insider News (WIN) Magazine also labeled the Gophers at fifth on Oct. 5.
Minnesota has eight of their counterparts in the top-25 on the schedule this season. First off, Big Ten foes No. 1 Iowa, No. 11 Wisconsin, No. 14 Penn State, No. 15 Indiana and No. 21 Michigan State all match-up with Minnesota, as well as No. 2 Iowa State, No. 6 Oklahoma State and No. 7 Nebraska.
For the first time this season the Gophers have an individual ranked number one. Senior Dustin Schlatter (Massillion, Ohio) has been tabbed as the top-ranked 165 pounder in the InterMat Rankings. A three-time All-American, Schlatter was the 2006 NCAA Champion at 149 pounds.
Fellow senior Jayson Ness (Bloomington, Minn.) is ranked second at 133 pounds individually, and is also a three-time All-American. The third Gopher in the top-five is sophomore Zach Sanders (Wabasha, Minn.) who earned his first All-American laurel last season.
Seven total Gophers garnered individual rankings, all landing in the top-14 of their respective weight class. Starting the season ninth at 141 pounds is junior Mike Thorn (St. Michael, Minn.), who won 29 matches last season on the way to his first NCAA Tournament appearance. Another junior, Ben Berhow (Hayward, Minn.), is No. 10 in the heavyweight rankings. Berhow has been to the NCAA Tournament in each of his two previous seasons.
The final two individuals are freshmen Jake Deitchler (Anoka, Minn.) and Mario Mason (Moorestown, N.J.). Each 2008 high school graduates, Mason was a redshirt for the Gophers last season while Deitchler spent the season wrestling full time at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
The Golden Gophers begin their season on Nov. 14 at the Bison Open in Fargo, N.D. Minnesota's first dual of the season is at home in Williams Arena on Nov. 28 when they host Cal State-Bakersfield. The following week, the Gophers get their first ranked opponent when they visit the sixth-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys.
InterMat Preseason Rankings
2. Iowa State
3. Ohio State
6. Oklahoma State
9. Boise State
13. Central Michigan
14. Penn State
17. Arizona State
21. Michigan State
23. Cal Poly