DES MOINES – The Gophers’ Tony Nelson scored a takedown with 58 seconds left Friday to advance to the 285-pound championship at the NCAA Wrestling Championships at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
Nelson trailed Oklahoma State’s Alan Gelogaev early, 4-2, but an escape in the second period set up a wild scramble midway through the third. Nelson was able to control Gelogaev’s head and secure the takedown in the middle of the mat. Gelogaev did not come close to a tying escape as Nelson, last year’s national champion, improved to 32-1.
Nelson will face Michael McMullan of Northwestern in the final. Nelson defeated McMullan at last year’s national meet and this year’s Big Ten meet.
Despite Nelson’s win, Minnesota likely will finish third in the team race. Penn State leads with 114.5 points, Oklahoma State is second at 94, and the Gophers are third with 86.
Nelson said he feels he’s a targeted man.
“Coming in as the defending champ, all those guys against you, they wrestle different,” he said. “They want to keep things close, and they want to be the guy to beat you.”
Jordan Storley, Minnesota’s only other wrestler to reach the semifinals, lost Friday night to Penn State’s Matthew Brown at 174. Bleeding from the nose throughout the match, Storley escaped early in the second period to trail 3-2, and though he took several shots at a winning takedown he was unable to seriously threaten Brown.
Some lights inside Wells Fargo Arena went out during the third period. The wrestlers continued, without a stoppage, in twilight conditions.
“I thought it was very strange,” Brown said. “I had no idea what that was about. The ref said to keep wrestling so I kept wrestling.”
Earlier Friday, Storley defeated Iowa’s Michael Evans 3-2. Storley, who has won three close matches with Evans this season, fought off a takedown attempt on the edge of the mat with about 40 seconds left and played enough defense the rest of the way to win.
Cody Yohn’s upset bid at 165 against Virginia Tech’s Pete Yates was undone by a video review — an experimental rule put in place this year. Coaches are allowed to challenge official’s calls, and Virginia Tech’s staff did so in the second sudden-death overtime period.
Yates, who entered the match with one loss this season, secured Yohn’s left leg on a takedown attempt, and for the next 20 seconds the two parried back and forth until the horn sounded.
Yates immediately waved his hand above his head, signaling to his coach that he wanted a review. Initially, no takedown was called. But after about two minutes of replay watching, the officials ruled that Yates had done enough to gain control for two points and a 5-3 win.
“Due to the fact that we were scrambling and by the time he took me down I was already up and out so there wasn’t enough time to justify [the takedown]. And then the fact that they didn’t call it and reviewed it and did call it is kind of bogus,” Yohn said. “You’ve got to beat the refs as well as your opponent sometimes.”
The near-miss was a small consolation for Yohn, who earlier this season lost to Yates 18-2. A better consolation came later when Yohn defeated North Carolina’s John Staudenmayer 5-3 in a wrestleback to assure a top-eight finish and the All-America status that comes with it.