Roman Augustoviz spends Minnesota's winters covering college hockey, specifically the Gophers, and other University of Minnesota sports. During the summer, he writes about the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx, with a dose of U sports sprinkled in. Follow him on Twitter @RomanStrib.
The Gophers wrestling team felled mighty Penn State 18-17 at the Sports Pavilon last month and tied for the Big Ten dual meet title with the Nittany Lions and Iowa. All finished 7-1.
Minnesota also won the National Duals -- for the third year in a row -- in Columbus, Ohio, and more recently beat Iowa State to finish 13-1 in dual meets.
But when the Big Ten meet is held in Madison, Wis., they won't be favored to win it. They're a longshot, behind Penn State and even Iowa.
A team's dual meet strength and tournament strength are often way different.
InterMat, the website based in St. Louis Park, has two different polls each week.
Its dual meet poll has one top three this week: 1. Minnesota (14-1), 2. Penn State (15-1), 3. Iowa (15-2).
Its tournament strength poll another: 1. Penn State, 2. Iowa, 3. Minnesota.
In a tournament, it's much more important to have several studs. Wrestlers who can win a title or at least reach the finals.
In the NCAA tournament last year, Penn State won with 123.5 points and the Nittany Lions had five wrestlers in the finals; two won titles.
So for fun, let's look at the Big Ten tournament to see who should be favored to win. You probably can guess it will be PSU -- and that is how it turns out.
To analyze the Big Ten tournament, we have to make some assumptions and use some shortcuts:
Let's assume the pretournament seeds for the Big Ten meet are 100 percent accurate and, in every case, the higher rated wrestler wins ... big assumption there.
The scoring system, at it's core, works like this: 16 points for first, 12 for second, 10 for third, 9 for fourth, 7 for fifth, 6 for sixth, 4 for seventh and 3 for eight. There's one additional point for advancing in every championship round, we'll give those, too.
Then there's bonus points for falls, technical falls, forfeits, majors, etc. We can't get into that. Way to hard to predict. There is also a half-point awarded for wins in consolation bracket. Gotta pass on that, too, for the same reasons.
That's OK. Looking at who is expected to finish in the top eight will suffice. Most of a team's points come from high finishes.
We'll look at who the Gophers have, plus Penn State and Iowa. One of those three should win the Big Ten.
125 pounds: Penn State has the favorite in Nico Megaludis, 23-2 and ranked No. 2 in the country by Amateur Wrestling News. The Gophers have nobody in the top 20 . ... PSU 16, Iowa 10, Gophers 0, with bonus points for advancing in the championship round, PSU 20, Iowa 12, Gophers 0.
133: Iowa has favorite in Tony Ramos,24-2 and ranked 3 nationally. David Thorn (21-4) of Gophers is ranked third among conference wrestlers. ... Iowa 16, Gophers 10, PSU 3. ... With bonus points, Iowa 20, Gophers 12, PSU 5.
141: Penn State has favorite in Zain Retherford, a freshman who is 26-0 and ranked No. 2 in the country. Chris Dardanes (22-5) of Gophers is ranked third among conference wrestlers. ... PSU 16, Gophers 10, Iowa 7. ... With bonus points, PSU 20, Gophers 12, Iowa 8.
149: The first weight one of the top three does not have the top seed. Jake Sueflohn of Nebraska, 27-3 and No. 2 nationally, comes in as the No. 1 seed. Gophers junior Nick Dardanes is seeded second. But it is also one of the toughest weights. Four conference wrestlers are ranked in the top eight in the country. ... Gophers 12, Iowa 9, PSU 7. ... With bonus points, Gophers 15, Iowa 11, PSU 8.
157: This is another killer weight in the Big Ten. Isaac Jordan of Wisconsin is the favorite and ranked No. 2 in country with a 23-4 mark. But five of the top six ranked wrestler in the country are Big Ten guys. Gopher Dylan Ness (18-4) is the second highest ranked Big Ten wrestler. ... Gophers 12, Iowa 9, PSU 7. ... With bonus points, Gophers 15, Iowa 11, PSU 8.
That's the five lowest weights, counting up the points totals, here is how the top three teams would stack up without upsets:
Iowa 62, Penn State 61, Gophers 54 ... pretty close. Bonus points for fall, technical falls, major decisions and one-half point for advances in the consolation bracket could change the order pretty easily.
Looking at the heavier weights, where the Gophers have several of their best wrestlers:
165: David Taylor of Penn State (26-0) -- No. 1 nationally -- and Nick Moore of Iowa are the two highest ranked wrestlers. The Gophers have Danny Zilverberg, seeded sixth. ... PSU 16, Iowa 12, Gophers 6. With bonus points, PSU 20, Iowa 15, Gophers 7.
174: Robert Kokesh of Nebraska is the favorite. He is 28-1 ranked No. 3 in the country. Right behind him are wrestlers from Penn State, Iowa and Gopher Logan Storley (27-3). A key weight for Gophers to do well at. ... PSU 12, Iowa 10, Gophers 9. ... With bonus points, PSU 15, Iowa 12, Gophers 11.
184: Ed Ruth of Penn State is the favorite, 25-1 and ranked No. 3 in the country. Kevin Steinhaus of the Gophers is ranked second and is 19-4. Ethan Lofthouse of Iowa is third among Big Ten wrestlers. So again top teams should bump heads here. ... PSU 16, Iowa 12, Gophers 10. ... With bonus points, PSU 20, Iowa 15, Gophers 12.
197: Morgan McIntosh of Penn State is the favorite after upsetting previously unbeaten Gopher Scott Schiller in the big dual at the Sports Pavilion. McIntosh is 25-2 and ranked No. 3 in the country. Schiller, 26-3, dropped to third among Big Ten wrestlers. ... PSU 16, Gophers 10, Iowa 7. ... With bonus points, PSU 20, Gophers 12, Iowa 8.
Hwt.: Freshman Adam Coon of Michigan is the favorite and ranked No. 1 in the country. He is 28-1. But this is another brutal weight class in the conference with seven of the top eight rated wrestlers in the country. Tony Nelson of the Gophers, the two-time defending NCAA champion, is rated fifth in the conference which should tell you something about the heavyweights. He is 22-4. ... Iowa 9, Gophers 7, PSU 4. ... With bonus points, Iowa 11, Gophers 8, PSU 5.
So here are the updated totals for the three team favorites based on seedings being totally accurate:
Penn State 132, Iowa 117, Gophers 89.
If the favorites win, the Nittany Lions would have six individuals champions and one runner-up. ... Iowa would have one champion and one runner-up. The Gophers would two runners-up.
Nebraska would have two champions and Wisconsin one.
It could conceivably happen this way but chances are much greater it won't. Individual and team titles are not won on paper, everyone knows.
But what this breakdown points out pretty clearly, is that co-Big Ten dual meet champion Penn State is still the team to beat in Madison.
Is there a scenario the Gophers win? Yes. Tony Nelson and Scott Schiller of the Gophers were rated No. 1 at heavyweight and 197, respectively, almost all season before recent losses. They could win titles at Big Ten. Dylan Ness, a recent Big Ten wrestler of the week, could surprise at 157, too. He has been wrestling well lately.
Nick Dardanes and Kevin Steinhaus, as second seeds, could be title threats.
If the Gophers get a handful of wrestlers in the finals, and win a couple of titles, they could be in the hunt. But they need a lot of things to go right for them.
Going into the Big Ten meet, they'll be underdogs.
To be a Division I athlete in any sport has to be fulfilling.
But today, it's got to be especially nice to be a Gophers softball player. Fourth-year coach Jessica Allister has taken her squad to Baton Rouge, La., for a season-opening tournament. Allister needs two wins to reach 100 at the U of M.
Yes, they are out of the cold and snow for a while. Highs for the tournament are supposed to reach the low 60s. And everybody has to be excited. It's a team loaded with talent.
Three first-team, All-Big Ten players are the core of the team. In the circle most games will be senior Sara Moulton. She's in the top three in program history in wins with 85, strikeouts with 940 and innings with 807.2. Last season she was 32-12 with a 1.57 ERA and 308 strikeouts.
You have to have a pitcher in softball and the Gophers do.
You also have to be able to score a few runs. That's where the other two returning all-conference players come in. One is third baseman Kaitlyn Richardson, who is on the watch list for national player of the year. She hit .430 last season with 10 homers and 43 RBI. So she has some pop in her bat.
So does shortstop Tyler Walker who hit .379 with 12 homers and 32 RBI.
Those two batted leadoff and third in the Gophers' lineup. Their season came to an end when Minnesota lost 3-0 to Hawaii in the NCAA tournament on May 18 in Seattle.
The Gophers finished 36-19, 14-6 and tied for third in the Big Ten.
This team, on paper, should be better. Fourteen players return. Only two starters graduated, catcher Kari Dorle and designated player Alex Davis.
The infield is all back, the outfield is all back.
Here is the Gophers' schedule the first weekend in LSU's Tiger Classic:
Murray St., 3 p.m.
LSU, 5 p.m. ... Tigers are rated No. 17 in USA Today poll
Southern Illinois, 9 a.m.
Central Arkansas, 11 a.m.
Oklahoma State, 11 a.m.
After the trip to LSU, the Gophers make trips to Las Vegas, Greensboro, N.C., Tempe, Ariz., Stillwater, Okla., Conway, S.C., and Lincoln, Neb.
Then, weather permitting, they open at home March 28-30 versus Illinois.
They start so early because they have a 56-game regular-season to get in by May 4.
Amanda Zahui B. was supposed to be a Gopher last season. But she is from Stockholm, Sweden and by the time she arrived Pam Borton's team was already playing. So she redshirted.
But Zahui B. appears to be worth the wait.
Against Kansas on Wednesday night she scored only 11 points but still dominated in a 70-59 victory.
The 6-5 center had only the fourth triple-double in the Minnesota program history and set a record for blocks in a single game.
Zahui B. had 11 points, 11 rebounds and 10 blocks, breaking the record of eight set by Mary Manderfeld on Jan. 31, 1981.
She was 5-of-9 from the field, 0-for-1 on threes, and 1-for-1 on free throws. ... Nine of her rebounds came on defense, two on offense. ... She also had five assists, tying for game high in 32 minutes. ... On the negative side, she committed three turnovers and had three fouls.
Here is a list of the Gophers' triple-doubles:
Debbie Hunter, 21 points, 12 steals, 10 assists vs. Northwestern on Jan. 31, 1981.
* Hunter was a quick point guard from Cloquet, Minn. She had her triple double in same game as Manderfeld set her record for blocks with eight.
Carol Peterka, 32 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists vs. Michigan on March 4, 1984.
* She is in her second season as the girls' basketball coach at Columbia Heights after coaching a high school team in Atlanta, Ga., and at Hofstra University on Long Island, where she was an assistant coach for two seasons. She is a three-time Olympian in team handball, competing in Seoul, South Korea in 1988, in Barcelona, Spain in 1992 and in Atlanta in 1996. Originally from Little Falls, Minn.
Janel McCarville, 23 points, 11 rebounds, 10 steals vs. Ohio State on March 5, 2004.
* The 6-2 starting center for the Minnesota Lynx, who happen to be the reigning WNBA champions.
Amanda Zahui B., 11 points, 11 rebounds, 10 blocks vs. Kansas on Nov. 20, 2013.
* Zahui B. on what she tried to do in the stretch: "Get stops and play smart on offense. Get the ball and pass well, but mainly get stops."
* She had three points, four rebounds and five blocks at halftime in 13 minutes. ...
Here is a breakdown of her last five blocks -- four came in a 3:31 stretch in middle of the 20-minute second half:
No. 6, on CeCe Harper's jumper at 8:00
No. 7, on Lamaria Cole's jump shot 8:20 into the second half.
No. 8, tying Gophers single-game record at 9:40 on Asia Boyd's jump shot.
No. 9, on Chelsea Gardner's jumper at 11:31, breaking Gophers' record.
No. 10, with 16 seconds left, stuffing Gardner on a three-pointer.
The University of Minnesota is a special place. I went there, after all.
So when Goldy Gopher's school honors somebody, it's a big deal.
And on Thursday, the U of M's "M" Club inducted 10 new members into its Hall of Fame.They represented six different sports. Two were women, the rest men, including one coach.
Let's start with the women. They played together at the U from 2002 to 2005 and made the Gophers women's hockey team feared by everyone.
Krissy Wendell-Pohl (she married Johnny Pohl, who played hockey for the Gophers, too) and Natalie Darwitz were always a threat to score.
Wendell was a three-time All-America player in college -- as was Darwitz -- and twice the WCHA player of the year. She won the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award in 2005, given to the best women's hockey player in the land. She had 106 goals and 237 points in her career, putting her second in both categories on the Gophers' all-time list.
She also won a silver and a bronze medal on the U.S. Olympic teams in 2002 and 2006.
Darwitz had 144 assists and 246 points as a Gopher, both program records. If you do the math, she scored 102 goals, just four fewer than Wendell.
Both Wendell and Darwitz were key players on the U's 2004 and 2005 national championship teams. Wendell was the NCAA Frozen Four's Outstanding Player in 2004, Wendell in 2005.
Darwitz had two silver and one bronze medal from her years on the U.S. Olympic team.
It was fitting both went into the Hall of Fame at the same time. They were two of the first real stars in girls' high school hockey -- Wendell with Park Center and Darwitz with Eagan -- and helped its popularity when it was still growing. Both were great skaters who could dominate a game.
Sticking with hockey, two of the other inductees were Larry Ross and Jim Carter.
Ross was the first Gophers' All-America first team pick in 1951. But he was probably better know as a high school coach. His International Falls teams won six state titles in the one-class era, including three in a row in the 1960s.
Hockey for Carter was his second sport. He was a defenseman for coach Glen Sonmor's 1967-68 team. His other sport was football. He was a fullback, when that position was a lot more important than it is today.
He was on the 1967 Big Ten championship team -- the last one at Minnesota.Carter also played on the 1968 and 1969 teams under Murray Warmath and then played for the Green Bay Packers for nine seasons.
A second football player in the Hall of Fame class is Charlie Sanders, an all-Big Ten tight end for the Gophers as a senior on that 1967 team with Carter. He caught 21 passes for 276 yards and two TDs that season. He also played on the 1965 and '66 Minnesota teams.
He played with the Detroit Lions for 10 seasons and made seven Pro Bowls. He would have been a good choice for your fantasy team back then.
The other Hall of Famers:
Jon Andreson played baseball at the U in 1962 and 1963. His second season he was a first team All-Big Ten and All-America. He played second base and hit .370. He also led the team in almost every offensive category with eight homers, seven double, three triples, 34 RBI (in 108 at-bats) and 31 runs scored.
Rick Naumoff played tennis at the U from 1990 to '93. He was 10-0 in conference play as a junior and senior leading the Gophers to two Big Ten titles. He was the conference player of the year in 1993 when he won the singles championship at the No. 1 spot. He is the first men's tennis player in the Hall of Fame.
Gary Wilson was head coach of the women's cross-country team for 28 years and women's track and field team for 21 years. His cross-country teams won Big Ten titles in 2007 and '08. His track team won a conference title in 2006 and, when he became an assistant coach, won three more the next three years.
Wilson had some of the largest teams in his sports, in sheer numbers, of any program in the country. He was known for his sharp wit and joyful demeanor. He will be retiring this spring.
Lloyd LaMois was a triple jumper on the Gophers' 1948 national championship team in outdoor track and field. He won an NCAA individual title that year with a jump of 45 feet, 10 inches.
Louis Lick was the Gophers' first NCAA golf champion in 1944.
After nine holes on Monday in the Barnabas Health Intercollegiate tournament, Gophers senior Jon Trasamar was struggling a bit. He had birdies on holes No. 7 and 8, but had three-putted three times.
So he made the turn on the River Course at Fiddler's Elbow Country Club in Bedminster, N.J., in a 1-over 37.
"I was thinking I have to right the ship, play solid and put myself in position," he said. "I wanted to give myself an opportunity and some chances."
After all, Trasamar's team -- he's captain of the Gophers -- was trying to win its first tournament since 2007.
Trasamar's round turned around quickly. He birdied the 10th hole and eagled the 11th to go 2-under for the day.
His birdie on No.10 came on an 8-foot putt. His eagle on No. 11 was set up with a 3-iron shot to within 5 feet of the hole. And he made that short putt, too.
"I got close to the flag on No. 11," Trasamar said. "I came up left and the pin was on the right. I landed short with my shot and the ball hopped on the green and rolled to 5 feet and I took advantage."
That he did on those two holes and four others on the back nine, finishing with a 7-under 29 on the back nine after an eagle and five birdies.
"My longest putt was probably 16 feet, the others were all inside 10-12 feet," Trasamar said.
And he was making almost all of them.
"They talk about how athletes, in the moment, can focus on the process and get in the zone once a couple things go your way," Trasamar said.
That's what happened to him.
"You get so amped, it's as if you are not playing golf," he said. "You are so amped and you have so much energy."
He only needed 11 putts on the back nine, finishing with a 2-foot birdie on No. 18. "I was a little nervous," Trasamar said, looking over the putt. He knew he had to make it for the first official nine-hole 29 of his career.
"I've had some 30s," he said. "And one 29 essentially in a match-play round, but it was unofficial." He didn't have to putt out every hole, some putts were conceded.
Trasamar's strong finish helped the Gophers run away with the team title by 17 shots.
"That was the first win since I've been here," he said. "We were second in the Big Ten [tourrnament] last season."
This was a team win, with five Gophers finishing at least tied for eighth or better.
"Everybody played well," said Trasamar, who finished one shot behind medalist Brandon Matthew of Temple, a playing partner on Monday.
"It was a little bittersweet," Trasamar said. "I wanted an individual victory in college. I have never had one. I've come close. But I lost to a great player and we had a great battle, He had a 32 on the back nine."
Matthews shot a 67 for an 36-hold total of 7-under 137. Trasmar, with his closing 66, had a 138. He was 10-under on the five par 5's over two days.
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