Minnesota wins 2007 Division I Wrestling
Minnesota wins 2007 Division I Wrestling ChampionshipMarch 17, 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 race following back-to-back losses by Iowa State wrestlers in the 184- and 197-pound title matches. In the final bout of the tournament, 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 with 98.0 points, while Iowa State finished second with 88.5.
Iowa State entered the championship round with three finalists and needed a mininum of two victories to overtake the Golden 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 the takedown at the edge of the mat in the middle of the first overtime session and the Golden Gopher faithful celebrated the championship.
"I think the true character of a team is when you get yourself in a hole and you have to dig yourself out," 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 a two-time national champion. In the title match, Konrad put his patented body lock on Anspach midway through the first and threw him to his back. Konrad got the fall at 1:53 of the first period. He finished the season unbeaten 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 finished his career with back-to-back NCAA Championships 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 pin, which rank second in school history. Cole Konrad also became Minnesota's fifth four-time All-American. He joined Chad Kraft, Luke Becker, Jared Lawrence and Damion Hahn.
This morning during the 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. 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. 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.