Led by key victories from heavyweight Tony Nelson and 165-pounder Danny Zilverberg, the Gophers advanced nine of 10 wrestlers into Saturday night's semifinals of the Big Ten Championships in Madison, Wis., and held a slim lead through the day's first session.
Penn State, the three-time defending Big Ten and NCAA champion, moved seven into the semifinals, as did Iowa. The Gophers led with 77 points through the first session, with Penn State in second at 70 and Iowa third at 68.
Through the first consolation session later Saturday, Penn State (80.5) and Iowa (78) inched ahead of the Gophers (77). The semifinals were in progress when this edition went to press.
The fifth-seeded Nelson, the two-time defending Big Ten and NCAA champion, scored a 2-0 decision over Iowa's No. 4 seed Bobby Telford, avenging a loss from earlier this season. Nelson faced Penn State's Jon Gingrich, an upset winner over No. 1-ranked Adam Coon of Michigan, in the semifinals.
Zilverberg, seeded sixth, beat Northwestern's No. 3 seed Pierce Harger 7-1 at 165. Zilverberg met No. 2 seed Nick Moore of Iowa in the semifinals.
Also advancing to the semifinals for the Gophers were: David Thorn at 133, Chris Dardanes at 141, Nick Dardanes at 149, Dylan Ness at 157, Logan Storley at 174, Kevin Steinhaus at 184 and Scott Schiller at 197.