MINNEAPOLIS — In front of a sold-out crowd of 5,225 at the Sports Pavilion, No. 4 Minnesota scored a 21-15 win against No. 3 Wisconsin, capped off with a 3-2 decision victory by a returning Ben Berhow in the heavyweight match to lock up the win. The Gophers also picked up wins from Zach Sanders, Mike Thorn, Danny Zilverberg and Cody Yohn.
“I think the fans got their money’s worth today. We’re trying to get better and better each week going into the Big Ten tournament. We made some good progress today, and that’s what we’re looking for,” Minnesota head wrestling coach J Robinson said.
Berhow, a redshirt senior for the Gophers, was a late addition to the lineup, replacing an ill Tony Nelson at heavyweight. He was set for the final matchup of the night against No. 11 Eric Bugenhagen with the team score sitting at 18-15 in the Gophers’ favor.
The pair of heavyweights dueled through a scoreless first period before Bugenhagen opened the second period with an escape to take a 1-0 lead. But Berhow, who hadn’t wrestled since Dec. 11, would bide his time until the third period, scoring an escape of his own and following up with a takedown in the match’s final seconds to jump ahead. Bugenhagen would score a late escape as time expired, giving Berhow a 3-2 decision in the match and the Gophers a 21-15 win in the dual.
“That was really special. I’ll remember that the rest of my life,” Berhow said. “And with the great crowd…it’s fun wrestling for them.”
Minnesota (13-3 overall, 4-0 Big Ten) once again opened the dual with a strong showing in the earlier matches. No. 5 Zach Sanders kicked off the afternoon with his 13th consecutive dual win, this time taking down Tom Kelliher with an 11-8 decision. The Badgers (9-2-1, 0-0-1) would answer with a decision win in the 133 pound match as No. 3 Tyler Graff put together a 9-4 win against David Thorn.
The Gophers would add bonus points in three of the next four matches however as No. 2 Mike Thorn pinned Danny Arnel at 3:42 in the 141 pound match, Danny Zilverberg scored a 12-3 major decision over Shawn Perry at 149 pounds and No. 11 Cody Yohn followed a 9-3 UM loss in the 157 pound match with a 15-0 technical fall against Ben Cox at 165 pounds.
The Badgers, who remain winless in Big Ten action, would make it interesting over the next three matches however, picking up a trio of decisions in the 174 through 197 pound matches to head into the heavyweight bout with Minnesota nursing an 18-15 lead. Bonus points by Wisconsin would have given the higher-ranked team a come-from-behind win while a decision would have given Wisconsin its second tie of the season.
However, neither result would pan out as Berhow sent the packed house into a frenzy with the late takedown to seal the win in both the match and the dual.