February 23, 2009

Gophers win Big Ten finale

Jayson Ness tied a 13-year-old school record with his 51st career victory by fall, pinning Matt Ortega at 133 pounds as the Gophers captured their final dual meet of the season by a 22-13 score over Indiana (15-7-1, 2-5-1). The Gophers (15-8, 5-3) were also buoyed by wins from Tyler Safratowich (157 pounds) and Gordon Bierschenk (197 pounds) who were both wrestling in their final home dual on Senior Day.

After Minnesota dropped the first bout of the meet, Ness brought the crowd of 2,854 to its feet when he pinned Ortega in the waning seconds of the first period. The pin was Ness’ 16th of the season and tied the school mark set by Billy Pierce (1992-96).

Honored in a pre-meet ceremony for their contributions to Minnesota wrestling, both Safratowich and Bierschenk notched hard-fought wins by decision that helped the Gophers close out the dual season on a high note. Safratowich’s victory came over the Hoosiers’ 13th-ranked Kurt Kinser by a 5-1 score and Bierschenk’s 10-5 win over Matt Powless at 197 pounds virtually put the meet out of reach for Indiana

Mike Thorn, who had lost his previous three matches to top-five ranked opponents, bounced back with a decisive 7-3 win over Andrae Hernandez at 141 pounds. Hernandez, who had defeated Iowa’s top-ranked Alex Tsirtsis in overtime on Friday, was forced to wrestle from behind throughout the match as Thorn recorded a takedown just four seconds into the bout.

Following Safratowich’s win at 157 pounds, the Hoosiers responded with wins in each of the next three bouts to claim a 13-12 lead. Minnesota redshirt freshman Sonny Yohn then regained the lead when his 11-0 major decision win over Eric Cameron gave his team a 16-13 lead it would not relinquish.

Bierschenk’s win pushed the lead to 19-13 and heavyweight Ben Berhow put a stamp on the dual win with a 5-3 win over Nate Everhart. Berhow’s win gave the sophomore a perfect 8-0 record in Big Ten duals this season.

Minnesota will be off for nearly two weeks as it prepares for the Big Ten Championships, which will be held March 7-8 at the Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pa. For ticket information, visit gopsusports.cstv.com.
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