Wrestling Preview: No. 4 Buckeyes Wrap Up Regular Season Sunday at No. 12 Minnesota

By Curt Heinrichs on February 12, 2017 at 7:00 am
No. 5 Micah Jordan

The No. 4 Buckeyes will wrap up the regular season on Sunday afternoon with a road dual at No. 12 Minnesota. Ohio State is coming off the heels of a 24-13 victory on Friday night at No. 5 Nebraska

Illinois Fighting Illini
Minnesota Golden Gophers
6-4 overall, 5-3 Big Ten

2:00 PM EST – SUNDAY, FEB. 11
Sports Pavillion
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Match airs live on BTN Plus (Subscription required)



The Golden Gophers lead the series by a wide margin, but the Buckeyes earned the victory the last time the two teams met in 2015. 

Let's take a look at what to expect when the Buckeyes roll into Minneapolis on Sunday afternoon. 

The No. 12 Minnesota golden gophers (6-4 overall, 5-3 big ten)

Head Coach: Brandon Eggum

Eggum has been the official head coach of the Golden Gophers for less than a month, but he held the title of interim head coach for the entire season after legendary coach J Robinson was unceremoniously ousted in September. Eggum was a successful wrestler for Robinson and then joined the Gopher coaching staff immediately following his graduation in 2001. Eggum was a three-time All-American for Minnesota and earned two international silver medals in freestyle.

Like Nebraska, Minnesota’s coaching staff is comprised of former Golden Gopher stars as four-time All-Americans Luke Becker and Zach Sanders are assistant coaches under Eggum. Also, an assistant coach is Ohio native Dustin Schlatter, who is merely a three-time All-American, but the younger Schlatter won an NCAA title as a freshman before injuries and stacked weight classes prevented him from anymore.

The Golden Gophers also feature a trio of four-time All-American alumni as “administrative assistants,” though I’d like to know the words per minute that Anthony Nelson, Dylan Ness and Jayson Ness can type.

Ohioans on the Minnesota Roster

None. This is becoming a disturbing trend in the Big Ten as they join Penn State and Nebraska as excellent teams without a firm foundation of Ohioans on the team.

Notable Gopher Wrestlers

No. 2 Brett Pfarr (RS Sr, 197)

Pfarr is a big, athletic 197 that can score points in a hurry. His lone loss this season is to Olympic bronze medalist and two-time NCAA champ J’Den Cox of Missouri at the Southern Scuffle. Pfarr was unable to crack the lineup as a freshman because the Gophers were stacked in the upper weights that year, but he has made the most of his opportunity in the lineup since. Pfarr was 0-2 at the NCAA tournament as a sophomore but finished 3rd at an outstanding weight class as a junior.

No. 8 Michael Kroells (RS Sr, HWT)

Kroells, like Pfarr, followed an absolute stud in the lineup, replacing two-time NCAA champion Tony Nelson at heavyweight. Kroells is a two-time All-American, finishing eighth as a sophomore and seventh as a junior. If his bio on the Minnesota wrestling website can be believed, Kroells is frequently an Academic All-American, which is impressive enough before you learn that he’s also achieving at a high level as an aerospace engineering major. It’s hard to dislike a guy that gets it done on a high level on the mat and in the classroom, and soon in the skies.

Probable Lineups
#4 Ohio State WT #12 Minnesota
#18 Jose Rodriguez 125 #6 Ethan Lizak
#1 Nathan Tomasello 133 #17 Mitch McKee
#15 Luke Pletcher 141 #12 Tommy Thorn
#5 Micah Jordan 149 Brandon Kingsley OR Carson Brolsma
Anthony DeCarlo OR Josh Powell 157 #8 Jake Short
Cody Burcher 165 #18 Nick Wanzek
#1 Bo Jordan OR Justin Kresevic 174 Chris Pfarr
#10 Myles Martin 184 Bobby Steveson
#4 Kollin Moore  197 #2 Brett Pfarr
#1 Kyle Snyder OR Josh Fox HWT #8 Michael Kroells

Key Matchups

HWT- No. 1 Kyle Snyder (9-0) vs No. 8 Michael Kroells (22-7)

Snyder has laid waste to the field at heavyweight, but Kroells is yet another big, athletic heavyweight looking to test his skills against Snyderman. Don’t count on Snyder settling for a 2-1 victory like many heavyweights, even if Kroells is a two-time All-American.

141- No. 15 Luke Pletcher (22-4) vs No. 12 Tommy Thorn (13-4)

Thorn had several tough matches against Micah Jordan a season ago, but Pletcher is a different animal at 141 than Jordan. It will be interesting to see how Pletcher comes out after ending the Nebraska match with a nice minor upset of No. 10 Colton McCrystal. As Pletcher is just a true freshman, he will need to position himself the best that he can to earn a high seed at the Big Ten tournament because 141 is looking like a real meat grinder.

197- No. 4 Kollin Moore (23-2) vs No. 2 Brett Pfarr (22-1)

Moore will be looking to avenge one of his two losses on the season, which came to Pfarr at the CKLV Las Vegas Invitational early in the season. Moore was unable to get his offense going against Pfarr, and the Gopher senior earned a major decision for his efforts. Now that Moore has seen what Pfarr brings to the table, it will be interesting to see if he is able to craft a new gameplan to attack Pfarr, who will likely be the top seed at the Big Ten tournament barring something crazy happening for the remainder of the Minnesota schedule.

Match Outlook

Minnesota has a nice team this year and it is certainly trending upward after a very down season (by Minnesota standards) last year. While they aren’t up to the level of Nebraska, they match up favorably for the Buckeyes, assuming the Buckeyes wrestle well with a mostly intact lineup. We saw Bo Jordan return to action on Friday night against Nebraska, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him rest his ankle and give Justin Kresevic the start against Chris Pfarr.

The Gophers are clearly stronger in the middle of the lineup, which has been a major weakness in the Buckeye lineup this season, but Ohio State is superior in at least four of the other weight classes. If Jose Rodriguez continues to slump at 125, Lizak may put up bonus points. The same can be said for Cody Burcher at 165. If Jake Ryan is out of the lineup at 157 as he has been of late, the Buckeyes will almost certainly need to make up some bonus points in favor of the Gophers at 157.

While I believe that Nebraska is the superior team to Minnesota (Nebraska defeated Minnesota 21-11 in January), the match on Sunday could actually be closer than the Buckeyes’ 24-13 victory over Nebraska based on some matchups favoring the Gophers. Ohio State will need to wrestle aggressively against a Minnesota lineup that will be looking for an upset on their Senior Day if they are going to end the regular season on a high note.

View 13 Comments