St. Louis – The three-day marathon known as the NCAA wrestling championships opened Thursday at Scottrade Center and Gophers coach J Robinson knows this is a grueling and tough race even the veteran teams.
The Gophers are in 11th place with 14 points and four in the quarterfinals after one day. Ohio State leads the tourney with 23 points followed by Iowa with 21.
“They wrestled well, they won some close matches and a lot of times at the NCAA everybody is excited for the first round because they think they can win,” Robinson said. We’re excited about how we’re going to do.”
Chris Dardanes (25-0) kept his record perfect with a 3-1 decision over Mackenzie McGuire of Kent State at 133 pounds in the evening session. He will meet Kevin Devoy (40-5) of Drexel on Friday morning.
Chris Mectate of Old Dominion downed Nick Dardanes (24-4) at 141 by a 9-4 decision. Dylan Ness won at 157 by a major decision of 11-3 over Chad Walsh of Rider. Ness improved to 30-2. He was a national runner-up a year ago for the second time in his career.
Logan Storley (29-6) defeated Zach Brunson of Illinois by a 3-0 decision at 174.
Scott Shiller downed Cody Crawford of Oregon State 10-1 at 197 to improve to 27-5. Michael Kroells lost a 5-2 decision to James Lawson of Penn State and fell to 25-15.
“They wrestled better tonight and Chris got it started going good and Nick was kind of a surprise on that one and Dylan and Story and Shiller came through so four of the five horses did what they were supposed to do,” Robinson said. “We have got to build on it tomorrow. There are a lot of things that are going to happen.”
The morning session didn’t start well for the Golden Gophers with Ethan Lizak losing a 8-4 decision to Ben Wileford of Cleveland State at 125.
Chris Dardanes bounced right back by earning a 6-1 decision over Connor Schram of Stanford.
Brother Nick kept it going at 141 by getting a 8-4 decision over Steven Rodriguez of Illinois. Ness made it three in a row at 157 by beating Brandon Zeerip of Eastern Michigan 11-2. Storley got past Brian Harvey of Army 11-9.
Davidson’s Scott Patrick finally broke the early streak at 184 when he earned an 8-6 decision over Brett Pfarr.
Schiller got the winning going again at 197 when he beat Byrce Bames of an Army in a 7-2 decision. Kroells closed the session by beating Garrett Ryan of Columbia by a 6-2 decision.
“We thought we could win seven and we won six, we’re a little bit lower than we thought we would be” said Robinson. “One thing about the national tournament, it’s a roller coaster, a up and down deal. You can’t get so concerned about last round you got to thing about this round. Trying to keep your focus is the biggest thing. They guys that do get beat along the way, they have got to come back.”
The Gophers, third in the Big Ten meet, have finished in the top three in the NCAA the past three years.