COLUMBUS, OHIO – The Gophers wrestling team entered the season as the nation’s No. 1-ranked team with aspirations for an NCAA championship. But for that goal to be met, Minnesota has plenty of work to do after finishing third in the Big Ten championships on Sunday at St. John Arena.
Top-ranked Iowa and No. 4 Ohio State shared the team title with 120 points each, while the No. 2 Gophers took third with 108. The Hawkeyes had a chance to win the championship outright on the final match of the tournament, but their heavyweight, Bobby Telford, fell 4-3 to Northwestern’s Mike McMullan.
Minnesota had three individual finalists, but only undefeated 133-pounder Chris Dardanes won a title. Dylan Ness at 157 and Brett Pfarr at 184 both finished runner-up.
The Gophers had five other placewinners. Nick Dardanes at 141 and Scott Schiller at 197 took third, Logan Storley was fourth at 174, heavyweight Michael Kroells finished fifth, and 125-pounder Ethan Lizak placed seventh. All Gophers placewinners, except for Lizak, earned automatic berths to the NCAA championships March 19-21 in St. Louis. At-large NCAA bids will be announced Wednesday.
Chris Dardanes, ranked No. 1 at 133, won his first Big Ten title with a 7-2 victory over Wisconsin’s Ryan Taylor. Dardanes trailed 1-0 to start the third period but rallied with two takedowns and a two-point nearfall.
In the 157-pound final, Ness fell to 12-5 to unbeaten and top-ranked Illinois freshman Isaiah Martinez. Ness trailed 4-1 after one period and closed within 4-2 after two before Martinez took control in the third.
In the 184-pound final, Pfarr lost 7-6 to Michigan’s Domenic Abounader, who scored a takedown with 23 seconds left, gave up a stalling point and held on for the title.
Nick Dardanes secured third place with an 8-6 victory over Nebraska’s Anthony Abidin. At 197, Schiller used a third-period takedown to edge Iowa’s Nathan Burak 3-2 for third.
Storley, in the stacked 174-pound class, fell 2-1 in a tiebreaker to Iowa’s Mike Evans to finish fourth. Kroells took fifth by forfeit over Penn State’s Jimmy Lawson, and Lizak scored an 11-0 major decision over Northwestern’s Garrison White for seventh.
Ohio State had two champs — undefeated four-time titlist Logan Stieber at 141 and freshman Nathan Tomasello at 125 — while all four of Iowa’s finalists lost. The Buckeyes had nine placewinners, while the Hawkeyes had eight, but none lower than fourth.
Ohio State’s Tom Ryan was named coach of the year, while Stieber was selected wrestler of the year. Martinez was freshman of the year.