St. Louis – Gophers senior Dylan Ness walked onto the floor of the Scottrade Center on Saturday morning and approached the mat for his final time as a collegiate wrestler.
As he looked at opponent Ian Miller of Kent State for the fifth place medal at the NCAA championships, he had to wonder why his career would end in this fashion.
Ness suffered a separated shoulder in Friday night's semifinals match against Brian Realbuto of Cornell and had to default by injury.
Miller was awarded a medical forfeit over Ness because the 157-pound wrestler could not possibly compete.
As the result was announced, the crowd gave him a standing ovation for his historic and storied career as a Gopher.
"We wanted to put him out there so that the crowd, and I don't think it was just the Minnesota crowd, the other people could acknowledge who he was and what he has done and what he has brought to wrestling over the course of the last four years," Gophers coach J Robinson said. "A lot of excitement. It's a big deal. Here's a guy who is a two-time finalist who had a good shot to win this year. Who would have guessed his career would end like this? This was a great thing for the fans to say, in essence, thanks for the four years."
Ness's exit was an example of how the tournament went for the Gophers. Minnesota, a close second to Penn State last year, finished eighth with 59.5 points.
Ohio State, led by individual champions Logan Stieber at 141 and Nathan Tomasello and 125, easily won the team title over Iowa. Stieber became the fourth wrestler towin four NCAA titles.
Ness and Storley earned All-America honors — a top-eight finish — for the fourth time.
Minnesota had three fourth-place finishers in Chris Dardanes (133), Logan Storley (174) and Scott Schiller (197). Michael Kroells (heavyweight) finished eighth.
Dardanes, seeded first, lost 4-3 to A.J. Schopp of Edinboro to finish the season at 27-2. Storley lost a sudden-death decision to No. 1 seed Robert Kokesh of Nebraska 6-4. He finishes 31-8.
The Kokesh match was scoreless after the first period, then back and forth.
Schiller lost 12-7 to Morgan McIntosh of Penn State.
"We're in a situation where you have to win some matches," Robinson said. "You're trying to get your guys up, you're out of the team thing and the problem with this round is that there is a lot of people's dreams that have been collapsed. You are trying to get them to come back, come back right away. And for some of them, that's pretty hard to do."
That could be said for Ness and his teammates. But Robinson said this select group is special.
"This is a great senior class," Robinson said. "They finished second in the nationals, they placed third, they placed second again and this year they are eighth. If you get that out of a senior class, you have got to say that its good."