Hawkeyes pull off 20 13 win over Gopher wrestlers at Williams Arena

By University of | Feb. 01, 2008, 10:58 p.m. (ET)
The No. 4 Golden Gopher wrestling team dropped a tough 20-13 dual meet decision to the top-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes on Friday night at Williams Arena. Two key upsets spurred the Hawkeyes to victory in front of 7,472 spectators, giving them their first win over Minnesota in three years.

Things began going awry for the Gophers after Iowa's Joe Slaton defeated Mack Reiter at 133 pounds, followed by an upset victory by Dan LeClere over Minnesota's Manuel Rivera at 141. The Gophers closed the gap to one point after the 165-pound match, but Iowa cemented the victory when No. 8 Phil Keddy upset No. 5 Roger Kish at 184 pounds.

Top-ranked Jayson Ness got things started in a big way for the Gophers at 125 pounds against third-ranked Charlie Falck of Iowa. After a few close calls in the first period (Ness led just 3-2 after three minutes), the undefeated sophomore opened things up in the second period. Ness brought the hometown crowd to a frenzy by scoring a whopping seven points in the next frame, including a takedown and two nearfalls (one for three points). Ness wrapped up the 14-2 major decision in the final period to improve to 27-0 this year and 4-0 lifetime against Falck.

Ness improved to 27-0 on the year and currently owns the second-longest active win streak at the Division I level.

At 133 pounds, the Gophers' Mack Reiter got off to a rocky start, falling behind 4-0 after the opening period to second-ranked Joe Slaton. Slaton rode for the entire second period, accumulating an impressive 2:58 worth of riding time heading into the final frame. Reiter was unable to muster anything offensively until final minute of the match, when he scored a takedown and an escape to make the score 4-3. But Slaton proved too much for the Gopher senior, scoring another three points in the final 20 seconds to emerge the 8-3 victor.

Third-ranked Manny Rivera of Minnesota and ninth-ranked Dan LeClere of the Hawkeyes squared off at 141 pounds in a crucial match-up. LeClere led 2-1 after a period and 6-3 after two, appearing well on his way to the upset. Rivera, however, would close the deficit to 6-5 with a takedown with one minute remaining and another with 30 seconds left to tie the score at seven and send the match into overtime. In the sudden victory period, LeClere grabbed hold of Rivera's leg and pulled off the upset with a takedown 34 seconds in, as Iowa took a 6-4 lead in the dual.

Luke Mellmer hung tough with top-ranked Brent Metcalf at 149 pounds, but was eventually worn down by the former four-time Iowa high school state champ. Metcalf led 8-3 after one period and 15-4 after two, eventually notching the technical fall 6:17 into the match to give Iowa an 11-4 edge.

Mellmer was wrestling in place of the injured Dustin Schlatter, who head coach J Robinson believes may return to action in 2-3 weeks. Schlatter has not wrestled since last December due to a hamstring injury.

Minnesota needed C.P. Schlatter to get them back into the meet against No. 15 Ryan Morningstar at 157 pounds, and the senior delivered. Schlatter scored two first period takedowns and posted a third in the final period. With the bonus point for riding time, Schlatter picked up the 7-3 win and pulled the Gophers to within 11-7 heading into the intermission.

The Gophers' Tyler Safratowich and Jake Kerr squared off at 165 pounds. The pair wrestled for position through the first five minutes of competition, with several close calls only amounting to a 2-2 score entering the third period. In the final frame, a quick Kerr escape put him ahead until Safratowich earned a dramatic takedown with 25 seconds left to take a 4-3 lead. The Gopher junior did not relinquish his position the rest of the way to hang on for the win and bring Minnesota to within a point at 11-10.

Another crucial match took place at 174 pounds, with the Gophers' No. 11 Gabe Dretsch dueling No. 2 Jay Borschel of Iowa. In a quick-moving match, the two traded quick takedowns before Dretsch narrowly avoided an accidental pin two minutes into the match. Tying the score at four early in the second, the two sparred through a scoreless remainder of the period. In the third it was Borschel that drew first blood, notching an escape and a takedown to go up 7-4. Borschel tacked on the bonus point for riding time to emerge the 8-4 victor.

The Gopher faithful welcomed back No. 5 Roger Kish at 184 pounds in his match against No. 8 Phil Keddy. After falling quickly falling behind 2-0, Kish appeared to regain position late in the period but suffered another takedown and trailed 4-1 after the first three minutes of action. Trailing 5-1 after two periods, Kish was unable to mount anything offensively and lost 6-2. It was the third consecutive loss for the two-time All-American senior.

Down 17-10 in the dual, the Gophers needed big things from senior Justin Bronson at 197 pounds. Bronson and Chad Beatty engaged in a deliberate battle, one that saw the Iowa wrestler grab a 4-1 lead heading into the final period. But Bronson scored a takedown with 30 seconds left and held on for the remainder of the period to earn the bonus riding time point and a 5-4 win. The victory pulled the Gophers to within four points at 17-13 heading into the heavyweight match.

Minnesota redshirt freshman Ben Berhow was a heavy underdog against No. 6 Matt Fields of the Hawkeyes, but the Hayward, Minn. native successfully avoided Fields' scoring attempts in a scoreless first period. Needing a major decision to tie the team score, Berhow fought valiantly but dropped a 7-3 decision to make the final tally 20-13 in favor of the Hawkeyes.

Friday night's win was the first in the series for Iowa against Minnesota since 2005 and their first win at Williams Arena since the 2000 season. The loss drops Minnesota to 11-4 (2-1 in the Big Ten) in dual meet action, and allowed the Hawkeyes to run their record to 15-1 (3-0 in Big Ten competition).

Friday's meet was televised live by the Big Ten Network and marked the second time this season Minnesota has lost at home on live TV. Then-No. 2 Iowa State upset the Gophers 19-13 Dec. 2 at Williams Arena in the Gophers' other televised meet.

Coming off the tough loss, head coach J Robinson's Gophers have an equally difficult task ahead of them. Minnesota will travel to Stillwater, Okla., Sunday afternoon for a dual meet with the third-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys. The two programs have combined to win the last seven NCAA championships (Minnesota in 2001, '02 and '07; OSU from '03-'06).

Meet time will be 1 p.m. and a live webcast will be available via the Gold Zone on gophersports.com.

#1 Iowa 20, #4 Minnesota 13
125: #1 Jayson Ness (MN) maj dec #3 Charlie Falck (IA)14-2
133: #3 Joe Slaton (IA) dec #5 Mack Reiter (MN) 8-3
141: #9 Dan LeClere (IA) dec #3 Manuel Rivera (MN) 9-7 OT
149: #1 Brent Metcalf (IA) tech fall Luke Mellmer (MN) 20-5 (6:17)
157: #6 C.P. Schlatter (MN) dec #15 Ryan Morningstar (IA) 7-3
165: Tyler Safratowich (MN) dec Jake Kerr (IA) 4-3
174: #2 Jay Borschel (IA) dec #11 Gabe Dretsch (MN) 8-3
184: #8 Phillip Keddy (IA) dec #5 Roger Kish (MN) 6-2
197: Justin Bronson (MN) dec Chad Beatty (IA) 5-4
Hwt: #6 Matt Fields (IA) dec Ben Berhow (MN) 7-3