THIS WEEK IN MINNESOTA WRESTLING Minnesota opens the 2012-13 season this Friday, Nov. 9 when it welcomes Hofstra to the Sports Pavilion. This is the first season in the past eight years that the Golden Gophers begin with a dual match as opposed to the traditional season start at the Bison Open. Instead, the team heads to Fargo, N.D. the following day for the 43rd annual tournament. Matches will begin at 10:00 a.m.
PRESEASON RANKINGS The Maroon and Gold received 397 points and seven first-place votes to be named the No. 1 team in the nation according to the USA Today/NWCA/Amateur Wrestling News Division I Coaches Preaseason Poll. Defending national champions Penn State received three first-place votes to rank at No. 2, while Oklahoma State came in at No. 3. Iowa and Illinois rounded out the top five, at No. 4 and No. 5, respectively.
InterMat's Tournament-Strength Rankings placed the Gophers at No. 3, trailing Iowa (No. 2) and Penn State (No. 1).
SEASON REWIND Minnesota ended last season with a 14-3 overall record and a 7-1 mark in Big Ten action. The Gophers finished the regular season tied for first in the conference and took home the National Duals title. Tony Nelson and Kevin Steinhaus also became individual Big Ten Champions.
At the NCAA Championships in St. Louis, Mo., the Gophers combined for 117.5 points, good enough for a runner-up finish. Seven individuals were named All-Americans, the most of all teams in the competition. The Gophers also crowned a national champion, as Nelson capped off his stellar year with a 4-1 decision over Lehigh's Zach Rey.
SCOUTING HOFSTRA Hofstra opens its season with the trip to the Twin Cities this weekend. In his second season as head coach, Rob Anspach returns 14 wrestlers, including eight starters from last season. The Pride, anchored by All-American seniors Steve Bonanno (125 lbs.) and Justin Accordino (149 lbs.), received the No. 25 ranking in the USA Today/NWCA/AWN poll and the No. 16 spot from InterMat.
SCOUTING THE 43RD BISON OPEN After the home match against Hofstra on Friday, the Golden Gophers travel to Fargo, N.D. on Nov. 10 for the 43rd annual Bison Open.
The tournament, which will produce individual titles only, will include wrestlers from North Dakota State, Minnesota, Minnesota State Moorhead, Concordia Moorhead, Northern State, Southwest Minnesota State, St. John's, Jamestown, and Mary. Minnesota has gathered 145 individual champions all-time at the Bison Open. Seven current Gophers took home trophies in last year's event.
FOLLOW ALONG AT THE BISON Results from the Bison Open will be posted after each round on GoBison.com for fans to follow along. You can also check the Golden Gopher Wrestling Facebook and Twitter accounts for updates.
BIG TEN CHAMPIONS NAMED CAPTAINS Sophomore Tony Nelson and junior Kevin Steinhaus have been named team captains for the current season, each receiving the honor for the second year in a row. Nelson and Steinhaus were voted to guide the team after proving leadership and excellence both on and off the mat last season.
APPROACHING GREATNESS With an 895-429-25 overall record in the history of Gopher Wrestling, Minnesota is closing in on an incredible feat that limited number have achieved before. The Gophers have the potential to eclipse 900 wins this season, becoming only the sixth program in the nation to do so.
Since its inaugural season in 1910, the Gophers have established a .673 winning percentage with help from 66 winnning seasons. In that time, the Maroon and Gold have garnered 34 NCAA Top 10 finishes, collected 10 Big Ten Championships, and claimed three national championship titles (2001, 2002, 2007).
NELSON ON A STREAK In 2012-13, Nelson posted a largely impressive record of 32-2, including an undefeated 8-0 conference run. With both losses stemming from the first half of the season, Nelson was able to build to a 25-match win streak which he will look to extend this year as he vies for a repeat of Big Ten and NCAA Championship glory.
GOPHERS INNER CIRCLE Make sure to check out the Minnesota Wrestling Blog (Gophers Inner Circle) on www.gophersports.com for news, features, videos etc.