The Gophers wrestling team extended its dual-meet winning streak to 15 and improved to 4-0 in the Big Ten with a 23-12 victory at Rutgers.
The No. 1 Gophers and 23rd-ranked Scarlet Knights never had faced each other on the mat before Sunday, and Minnesota had to wait until its fifth match to record its first victory. But the victories came quickly after that, as Minnesota (8-0) took the final six matches of the dual.
The Scarlet Knights energized a home crowd hungry to see an upset by taking the first four bouts of the dual and building a 12-0 lead. It was the first time in two years that the Gophers trailed by 10 points or more in a dual. Minnesota’s Chris Dardanes, ranked No. 1 at 133 pounds, and Nick Dardanes, No. 4 at 141, did not wrestle.
No. 1 Dylan Ness sparked the Minnesota comeback in the final match before the intermission. The showdown at 157 pitted Ness against redshirt freshman Dylan Painton, who stepped in when No. 17 Anthony Perrotti was scratched from the lineup late Sunday morning. Late in the second period, Ness (21-0) successfully locked in a cradle and pinned Painton, halving the Gophers deficit in one quick second. The pin was the 35th of Ness’ career, moving him into 10th place on Minnesota’s all-time list.
Brandon Kingsley opened the second half of the dual for the Gophers with a 4-0 decision over Nicholas Gravina at 165. The victory was Kingsley’s first dual vic tory this season after making his 2014-15 dual debut Friday. No. 3 Logan Storley followed with a decision at 174, defeating Phil Bakuckas 5-1. With Storley’s victory, Minnesota had successfully erased Rutgers’ advantage and tied the dual at 12 with three matches remaining.
At 184, No. 10 Brett Pfarr piled up points to earn a major decision, 19-9 over Hayden Hrymack and gave Minnesota its first lead of the day. No. 1 Scott Schiller followed at 197 with a major decision, 11-2 over Andew Campolattano. Schiller’s victory clinched the dual for Minnesota. The Gophers return home for their next dual Sunday against No. 9 Illinois.