Bonus points in a pair of matches before the halftime intermission put the Gophers in position to win Sunday afternoon’s dual, but an extraordinary comeback by No. 1 Chris Dardanes in his match at 133 pounds proved essential in top-ranked Minnesota holding off a late charge from No. 9 Illinois to win 20-19 Sunday at the Sports Pavilion. With the win, the Gophers (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten) have won 28 of their past 29 duals, including their past 16.
Dardanes trailed No. 5 Zane Richards 7-1 heading to the third period, and still trailed by five with slightly more than a minute left. From there, Dardanes scored four takedowns in about a minute, forcing a 10-10 tie with the final one in the waning seconds. In the extra period, it took Dardanes only 39 seconds to secure another takedown and win the match, flipping what looked like three points for Illinois to three points for Minnesota.
The dual began at 165 with a 12-1 major decision by No. 8 Jackson Morse of Illinois over No. 17 Nick Wanzek. The Gophers won the next four matches heading into intermission. After the break, Dominic Olivieri earned the Illini’s second victory of the meet, a 13-4 major decision over Jordan Bremer. Dardanes followed at 133 with his comeback victory before his twin, No. 4 Nick Dardanes, gave the Gophers their largest lead by earning a 9-4 decision over No. 13 Steven Rodrigues.
Illinois scored a pin and a technical fall in its final two bouts, but fell a point short.
Minnesota’s Dylan Ness, ranked No. 1 at 157, did not wrestle because of illness.
The Gophers will wrestle at sixth-ranked Penn State, the four-time defending NCAA champion, on Sunday.
Pair of victories gives U tennis a 2-0 start
The Gophers women’s tennis team opened its season with two victories at the Baseline Tennis Center, beating Milwaukee and North Dakota by 7-0 scores. Redshirt junior Julia Courter won twice in singles without losing a game.