– The Gophers wrestling team, fresh off its victory over previously undefeated Penn State last week, took the first step toward winning a third consecutive National Duals title on Sunday at St. John Arena.

Behind pins by David Thorn and Dylan Ness, the top-ranked Gophers routed No. 20 North Dakota State 35-3 in the quarterfinals on Sunday. Minnesota, which had a first-round bye, will face No. 13 Ohio State at noon Monday in the semifinals. The Buckeyes defeated Kent State 32-4 in the quarters.

No. 4 Cornell and No. 10 Oklahoma will wrestle in the other semifinal. The championship match is at 3 p.m.

The Gophers won the first five matches for a 22-0 lead. Sam Brancale opened at 125 pounds with a major decision. Thorn followed at 133 by pinning Justin LaValle in 3:34. Chris Dardanes and Nick Dardanes followed with decisions at 141 and 149, respectively.

Ness, who got a key win by fall that swung the match against Penn State in the Gophers’ favor, pinned NDSU’s Nick Olejnik in 4:14 at 157.

The Bison scored their only victory at 165, when No. 3 Steve Monk decisioned Danny Zilverberg 8-5. The Gophers closed the match with decisions by Logan Storley (174), Kevin Steinhaus (184) and Scott Schiller (197), and a major by Michael Kroells (heavyweight).

Staff, News Services