DES MOINES – It might be spin, but Logan Storley is convinced his poor performance at the Big 10 meet was a good thing.
Storley is one of five Gophers still in the hunt for a title after Thursday’s opening day of the NCAA National Championship at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. Minnesota is third with 24 points, trailing Penn State (32.5) and Oklahoma State (29).
Storley entered the Big 10 meet two weeks ago with one loss this season, but left with three. He had been ranked No. 1 in the nation at 174 pounds but finished seventh in his conference.
“It was the best thing that could have happened to me,” Storley said Thursday. “I hadn’t lost in two months, and I kind of got my [butt] whooped. It was more mental than physical. It was a little bit of pressure; being ranked No. 1 all year after Christmas. I overthought things, and I needed to go back to having fun.”
Storley defeated Bryce Hammond of Cal-Santa Barbara 3-1 and later knocked off Northern Illinois’ Matt Mougin 9-1 to advance to today’s quarterfinal.
“I was able to get my takedowns going again and control the whole pace of the match,” Storley said.
He’ll face Iowa’s Michael Evans, whom Storley has defeated 4-3 and 3-1 this season.
“We know each other really well. It’s always one-point, two-points. It’ll be a full seven minutes,” Storley said.
Scott Schiller also will face a conference foe in his 197-pound quarterfinal match against undefeated Quentin Wright of Penn State. Wright defeated Schiller 9-5 and 5-3 this season.
“He’s very dangerous. I’ve got to watch out for those double leg [takedown] shots,” Schiller said.
Cody Yohn overcame a first-period takedown to beat Patrick Graham of Oklahoma 4-3 in round two at 165.
“He was riding me incredibly hard,” Yohn said. “I tried to keep my composure and focus on my breathing. We train hard for the third period.”
Chris Dardanes, at 133 pounds, scored a pin in his second match of the day to advance to today’s quarterfinal. Nick Dardanes, his twin brother, was not as fortunate. He lost 5-4 in overtime in his 141-pound match in the second round.
Defending heavyweight champion Tony Nelson shook off a not-so-dominant 4-0 victory against Steven Graziano of Penn State early Thursday with a pin against Odie Delaney of the Citadel in his second match. Second-seeded Nelson improved to 30-1.
The Gophers’ rivalry with Iowa flared several times in front of the Hawkeye-leaning crowd. Kevin Steinhaus, seeded fifth at 197, lost to 12th seed Ethan Lofthouse 3-2. Afterward, the Hawkeye said he was supremely confident he would prevail.
“In my head, I know I’ve won the match before it starts,” Lofthouse said.
Dylan Ness had a closer-than-expected 4-2 victory against Daniel Young of Army at 149. Young’s reversal early in the third period gave him a 2-1 lead, but Ness’ escape and subsequent takedown with about a minute left gave the Gophers sophomore the winning margin.
An Iowa fan sitting about 20 feet from the edge of the mat shouted, “You’re lucky, Ness. You won’t win the next round.”
The prediction proved accurate as Ness gave up a late takedown in a 5-2 loss to Drake Houdashelt of Missouri.
David Thorn gave undefeated Alan Waters of Missouri a serious run in their 125-pound match. Thorn and Waters were tied midway through the second period when Waters escaped then took down Thorn for a 5-2 win in the first round.