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College Wrestling Update for February 15: Minnesota knocks off Cowboys … again



By Jason Bryant
jbryant@intermatwrestle.com
InterMat/NWCA


How does the saying go? Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me?

Well Minnesota isn't exactly fooling anyone with their second victory in as many chances against early-season favorite Oklahoma State in a 19-16 triumph at the ESPNU/DoubleSport Invitational on Sunday.

With impressive victories from true freshman Dustin Schlatter, Manuel Rivera and Cole Konrad's third victory of the season over two-time NCAA champion Steve Mocco, J Robinson's Golden Gophers are hitting stride as they prepare for the Big 10 finale and the conference championships.

Schlatter's second victory over defending national champion Zack Esposito was the bout that raised the most eyebrows, with the Ohio native notching an 11-2 major decision at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City.

While Rivera ousted Daniel Frishkorn in the finals of the National Duals, it was Justin Porter that fell victim to Rivera this time, as the Minnesota sophomore picked up a fall at 6:23 that also provided key bonus points.

"Bonus points, that's what it comes down to," assistant coach Joe Russell said in an interview with the Minnesota Daily, the student paper at the Minneapolis campus.

"Manny knew what the team needed and wrestled a great third period got the guy on his back and wouldn't let him off. Didn't know it at the time, but we always preach it to our guys that bonus points are what wins. And when it ended up five matches a piece, that was the difference maker," said Russell in the February 13 article by David McCoy.

While Rivera's fall and Schlatter's major decision were key points in the dual, it still came down to heavyweight.

With Cole Konrad taking two bouts from Mocco this season (one official, one un-official), it was up to Mocco, now in an underdog role, to give Oklahoma State the win and a potential shot to reclaim the top-rank in the nation.

Konrad told the Minnesota Daily: "We pretty much know going into it that most likely it was going to come down to that match."

Well, it did, with Konrad scoring the overtime decision to move Minnesota to 19-0 on the season and solidify its top billing as the nation's best team.

Rock and roll
Three straight weeks we've talked about Slippery Rock's program and its final days. Apparently it lit the proverbial fire under The Rock wrestlers, as they've dropped just one dual (to UPJ) since the University announced it was cutting wrestling along with seven other sports. Derek DelPorto's team won its 13th dual of the season in an 18-17 victory over Bloomsburg, the team runner-up in the PSAC tournament two weeks ago. Senior captain Jason Cardillo won his 100th career victory at 165 pounds, beating Frank Beasely and giving The Rock the victory in the dual's final bout. Slippery Rock is 13-9 heading into Thursday's match with another improved Eastern program, Buffalo. The 13 dual wins are the most for The Rock since 1974-75 when the program was led by Fred Powell.

Rankings, schmankings
Can anyone figure out what's going on this year? Arizona State beat Missouri twice at the National Duals (once by criteria), then Missouri turns around and beats Oklahoma, who beats Nebraska, who's the only team to beat Michigan this year. Cal Poly's not been healthy for over a month and the Mustangs are still hanging around in the Top 25.

Still unbeaten
Minnesota's not the only undefeated team left in Division I, the Fighting Scots of Edinboro are 10-0 heading into Eastern Wrestling League duals with West Virginia and Edinboro. NCAA runner-up Shawn Bunch is ranked #1 at 133, while true freshman Gregor Gillespie's ranked eighth at 149 pounds.

Olivet … back from the brink
Todd Hibbs might have been best known for his mic skills at Michigan State University, but the talented announcer also has some coaching skills. Two years ago, Olivet Wrestling was pretty much a thing of the past and Hibbs was hired as a one-year fill-in for the then lame-duck team. Well, the program was saved and Olivet finished the year 16-1-1 and ranked 11th in Division III.

Nice.

Nebraska-Omaha maintains Division II supremacy
Sure there were some upsets, but Nebraska-Omaha maintained its status as the top dual team in Division II, knocking off Minnesota State-Mankato over the weekend at Sapp Fieldhouse. J.D. Naig knocked off #1-ranked Travis Krinkie of MSUM with a reversal and nearfall in the last 15 seconds in the dual's highlighted bout. Naig was ranked #2. Ironically enough, both have the "Mavericks" as a mascot. This one went to the Mavs from Omaha.

Coming up
Division III and the NAIA have full slates this weekend, with each division holding a handful of national qualifiers around the nation…

Three big duals highlight this weekend's schedule with Bedlam II taking place in Norman with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

Minnesota and Michigan square off in a battle of Big 10 unbeatens in Ann Arbor, while Lehigh and Penn get acquainted in the EIWA.
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