Despite being without All-Americans Jayson Ness, Mack Reiter, Dustin Schlatter and Roger Kish due to Monday night’s NWCA All-Star Classic in Oregon, the rest of the defending national champion Golden Gopher wrestling team was able to grab two titles and had eight individuals place in the Elite Division at Saturday’s Kaufman-Brand Open in Omaha, Neb. The all-day tournament is hosted annually by the University of Nebraska-Omaha and featured over 650 wrestlers from 42 different schools.
Returning NCAA Qualifiers Manuel Rivera (141) and C.P. Schlatter (157) were able to win their respective weight classes for the third straight year, while freshman Zach Sanders was crowned the champion at 125 pounds in the Amateur Division. Two other Gopher freshmen placed in the top five in the Amateur Division.
Rivera, a senior looking to capture All-American status after qualifying for nationals two seasons in a row, has picked up right where he left off in 2006-07. Rivera remained perfect on the season by going 4-0 in Omaha, picking up two major decisions and beating Carter Downing of Wyoming 9-8 in the championship match.
Schlatter, the Gophers’ lone All-American entry in the Kaufman-Brand, was also dominant after sitting out last weekend’s Bison Open. Schlatter had two 10-3 decisions en route to a 4-0 mark and was named the winner of the 157-pound bracket.
Gabe Dretsch was Minnesota’s other senior captain entry in the tournament and the favorite at 174 pounds. But Dretsch was upset by Iowa’s Chad Beatty in the third round in a close 3-2 decision and had to win four matches in the consolation bracket to take third place. Dretsch finished with a 5-1 record on the day.
The Gophers’ other third place finisher was sophomore Mike Thorn, who went 4-1 with two falls and one technical fall.
Minnesota had a whopping six entries at 165 pounds, with redshirt freshman Scott Glasser emerging at the top of the pile for the second consecutive week. Glasser won his first three matches of the day to advance to the semifinals before finishing with a 4-2 record and a fourth place finish. Glasser also defeated teammate (and 2007 NCAA Qualifier) Tyler Safratowich for the second straight week, taking a 4-3 decision in the consolation bracket. Safratowich himself finished 5-2 in the tournament and took fifth place.
Minnesota also entered five wrestlers at 197 pounds in their search for a starter at that weight class. Yura Malamura was the highest Gopher finisher, placing fourth with a 3-1 record, while Justin Bronson went 4-2 and took home fifth. Brent Eidenschink, Chris McPhail and Jason Waidzulis went a combined 3-6 at the weight class.
Ben Berhow and Joe Nord continued their competition to see who will take over for departed national champion Cole Konrad at heavyweight. After winning the Bison Open last week, Nord lost both matches Saturday for a quick exit. Berhow fared slightly better, going 3-2 at finishing sixth. Both wrestlers lost their first round match-ups.
In the Amateur Division, Minnesota’s three most highly-touted freshmen Sanders, Kaleb Young and Sonny Yohn all performed well in their second taste of collegiate competition. Sanders remained undefeated (7-0) on the season and won his second straight tournament by going 4-0 at 125 pounds. Young picked up two pins and a 3-1 record to finish second, while Yohn won four matches in the consolation bracket and took third with a 6-1 record.
Minnesota’s absent All-Americans (Ness, Reiter, Dustin Schlatter and Kish) will compete this Monday night beginning at 9 p.m. (central) at the 42nd annual NWCA All-Star Classic, being hosted this year by the University of Oregon. The four wrestlers are the most Minnesota has ever entered into the event, with Schlatter looking to defend his 2006 crown. The event will be televised via tape delay on CSTV Wednesday night, and live updates can be found via Intermat.
Their early-season tournament slate now completed, Minnesota opens dual meet competition this Saturday, Nov. 24 in Rochester, Minn. at the first-ever Northern Quad invitational. Minnesota will square off with Northern Colorado, Northern Illinois and NDSU that Saturday at the UCR Regional Sports Complex. The Gophers will return home to square off with defending NCAA runner-up Iowa State on Dec. 2.