Gopher heavyweight Cole Konrad became the fourth two-time national champion in school history this past weekend. He finished his career with 76 wins in a row.
Gopher wrestlers win national championship
Title is U's third since 2001
March 19, 2007
The top-ranked University of Minnesota wrestling team won its third NCAA championship since 2001 on Saturday night at the Palace in Auburn Hills, Mich. The Golden Gophers clinched the team title following back-to-back losses by Iowa State wrestlers in the 184- and 197-pound title matches. And in the final match of the tournament, Gopher heavyweight Cole Konrad concluded his stellar collegiate career with a pin of Penn State's Aaron Anspach in the finals. Konrad became the fourth two-time national champion in school history. Minnesota finished the NCAA tournament with 98.0 points and Iowa State finished second with 88.5. Iowa State entered the championship round with three finalists and needed victories from two of them to overtake the Gophers prior to the heavyweight match. Top-ranked Trent Paulson pulled the Cylcones to within 3.5 points after defeating Wisconsin's Craig Henning at 157 pounds. Freshman Jake Varner could not follow with a victory of his own as he was soundly defeated by top-ranked and unbeaten Jake Herbert of Northwestern at 184 pounds. It was then up to No. 9 Kurt Backes at 197 pounds, but No. 2 Josh Glenn of American got a takedown at the edge of the mat in the middle of the first overtime session and the Golden Gopher faithful were able to celebrate a championship.
"We had a tough semifinal round, but in a national tournament, you can't expect everything to go the way you want," Konrad said. "We focus in our training on getting stronger as a tournament goes on and we were able to bounce back today. I can't think of a better way to finish a career.""I think the true character of a team is when you get yourself in a hole and you have to dig yourself out," said Gopher head coach J Robinson. "They responded when they had to and that's what champions do. This was a team win. All nine guys contributed to this and that's the beauty of this victory." With the team title locked up, Konrad took to the mat looking to cement his place alongside Golden Gopher legends Verne Gagne, Tim Hartung and Damion Hahn as two-time national champions. In the title match, Konrad put his patented body lock on Anspach midway through the first period and threw him to his back. Konrad got the fall at 1:53 of the period. He finished the season with a 35-0 record and a second straight individual title. "We had a tough semifinal round, but in a national tournament, you can't expect everything to go the way you want," Konrad said. "We focus in our training on getting stronger as a tournament goes on and we were able to bounce back today. I can't think of a better way to finish a career." Konrad concluded his career with back-to-back NCAA individual titles and 76 wins in a row. He finished with a 154-13-0 career record, just five wins behind the career record of 159 held by Ed Giese since 1986. Konrad also had 50 pins, which ranks second in school history. He became Minnesota's fifth four-time All-American, joining Chad Kraft, Luke Becker, Jared Lawrence, and Damion Hahn. During Saturday's medal round, junior Roger Kish and sophomore Dustin Schlatter earned third place at 184 and 149 pounds, respectively. Redshirt freshman Jayson Ness claimed fifth place at 125 pounds with his third pin of the tournament. And junior C.P. Schlatter finished his first All-American season with a sixth-place finish at 157 pounds. The Golden Gophers finished the 2006-07 season with a national title, five All-Americans, their sixth Big Ten title in the last nine years and their fourth National Duals title in the last seven years. Next year Minnesota will return four All-Americans and nine starters from a team which finished the regular season with a 20-1 record. The lone loss will be Konrad at heavyweight.
For more details on individual performances, or to read more about University of Minnesota Athletics, visit GopherSports.
--From University of Minnesota Athletics