St. Louis - The Gophers, with four wrestlers in the quarterfinals and three in wrestlebacks, attempted to stay alive on Day 2 for another high finish at the NCAA wrestling championships.
It didn’t happen.
Two of Minnesota’s wrestlers lost in the quarterfinals and two more — the Gophers’ highest seeded — in the semifinals.
“We have 3 more All-Americans after wins in wrestlebacks — [Logan] Storley, [Scott[ Schiller and [Michael] Kroells,” Gophers coach J Robinson tweeted late Friday night. “That’s 5 for this season.”
Chris Dardanes, who was seeded No. 1 at 133 pounds but lost in the semifinals, also will be an All-America, a status earned by anyone who finishes in the top eight.
And the fifth All-America wrestler will be Dylan Ness, who lost by injury default in the 157-pound semifinals. The senior was seeded third and was the national runner-up last season and as a freshman.
Ness struggled early in his semifinal against Brian Realbuto of Cornell and injured a shoulder during the first period, when officials granted an injury timeout. He tried to continue the match, but Realbuto was awarded the match by injury default at 2 minutes, 28 seconds. Details on the injury were unavailable.
“Dylan is a warrior,” Robinson tweeted. “Always has been and always will be. Hate to see that happen.”
After finishing second or third the past three years in the NCAA meet, the Gophers are tied for ninth place with Nebraska with 49 points apiece.
Ohio State and Iowa, two other Big Ten teams, are a solid 1-2 with 86.5 and 73 points, respectively. Cornell is another rung back at third with 66.6.
In the 133 semifinals, Dardanes trailed early and never could recover. He lost a 15-3 major decision to Cody Brewer of Oklahoma.
Before Friday’s fourth session, Robinson was thrilled with how Dardanes and Ness were doing, living up to their high seeds.
“Getting Chris and Dylan into the semifinals is something special, especially for Dylan because he becomes a four-time All-American,” Robinson said, “and it’s the first time we have brothers that are four-time All-Americans, and I think that is pretty cool.”
Jayson Ness, Dylan’s brother and a former NCAA champion, is now on the Gophers’ staff.
“Obviously, we’re pretty disappointed after this morning,” Robinson said. “It’s not a place we were expected to be at this time of the tournament. That’s what the national tournament is, and what we have to focus on is what we have left and winning as many matches as we can.”
That’s what Minnesota’s three wrestlers in the consolation bracket did.
Schiller pinned Max Huntley of Michigan in 1:11 to stay alive in wrestlebacks at 197. Storley won 3-1 over Zach Epperly of Virginia Tech at 174, and Kroells won 4-3 after two overtimes and two tiebreakers over Spencer Myers of Maryland on riding time before losing his final consolation match — 3-2 to third seed Bobby Telford of Iowa — at heavyweight. That’s why he is only going for seventh place and not higher.
“It’s great that Michael Kroells is an All-American this year and that four of the five seniors came back,” Robinson said. “But so many disappointing things happened, including Dylan getting hurt. It’s hard to codify the whole day in a couple of words — highs and lows.”