Before 4,380 wrestling fans at the University of Oregon’s MacArthur Court Monday night, Minnesota Golden Gopher All-Americans Jayson Ness, Mack Reiter, Dustin Schlatter and Roger Kish competed in the 42nd annual NWCA All-Star Classic, one of the nation’s premier wrestling events. Despite a number of hard-fought matches, only Schlatter was able to emerge with a victory his second straight All-Star Classic win came over NCAA runner-up Josh Churella of Michigan by a score of 3-2.
After beating Oklahoma’s Matt Storniolo in last year’s event, Schlatter notched his third career victory over Churella Monday by scoring the only takedown of the match in the first period and holding on for the win. Schlatter now owns a 3-0 career record against Churella, with the other two victories coming last season. Schlatter also defeated Churella 3-2 for the 2007 Big Ten Championship.
Currently ranked fourth in the nation at 125 pounds, Ness competed in his first All-Star event and took on returning NCAA champion Paul Donahoe of Nebraska. Despite defeating Donahue twice last season, the sophomore was done in by two third-period takedowns and lost a 5-2 decision.
Reiter also entered the event ranked highly in his weight class (second at 133 pounds), but was toppled in a masterful performance by Lou Ruggirello of Hofstra. Ruggirello picked up a 6-0 victory over the two-time All-American in the first-ever match-up between the two wrestlers. Reiter was competing in his second All-Star Classic, earning his third invitation to the event (he did not participate last season due to injury).
In an epic battle at 184 pounds, returning two-time All-American Kish was taken down by Iowa State’s Josh Varner in a match between two familiar opponents. Varner scored a second period escape and rode out Kish in the third period for a riding time point. It was the only matchup of the night involving wrestlers from the first and second-ranked teams in the nation, and Varner and Kish are also currently the top two in the weight class. It was Varner’s second straight victory over the Minnesota senior (including last year’s NCAA Championships) after Kish had defeated Varner twice earlier last season. The two are scheduled to face off again Dec. 2 when the Gophers take on the Cyclones in their home opener at Williams Arena.
A full broadcast of the All-Star Classic can be seen on CSTV Wednesday night, beginning at 7:30 p.m. The All-Star Classic was held in Oregon to support the University’s soon-to-be-defunct wrestling program, which was cut this summer.
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 Center. The Gophers will return home to square off with defending NCAA runner-up Iowa State on Dec. 2.