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Minnesota Wrestling: Gophers Advance Three to NCAA Quarterfinals

Minnesota is in a tie for 4th place after the first day of the NCAA Championships

Aaron Nagao is into the NCAA Quarterfinals
Bjorn Franke

The Minnesota Gophers advanced three wrestlers into the NCAA Quarterfinals after day one of the 2023 NCAA Wrestling Championships in Tulsa on Thursday. The Gophers were tied for fourth place as a team after the first two rounds of competition with the quarterfinals, semifinals and matching consolation rounds occurring on Friday.

Minnesota was led by Big Ten runner-up Aaron Nagao at 133 pounds. The Gopher freshman earned an 8-0 major decision over Bucknell’s Kurtis Phipps before pinning Pittsburgh’s Micky Phillippi in the first period of his second round match. Nagao now faces a Big Ten finals rematch against Penn State’s Roman Bravo-Young in Friday morning’s quarterfinals.

At 174 pounds Bailee O’Reilly is into the quarterfinals after defeating Penn’s Nick Incontrera by a 5-3 decision before knocking off Illinois’ Edmond Ruth for the third time this season by a score of 4-1. O’Reilly also gets to face a familiar foe in top-seeded Carter Starocci of Penn State Friday morning.

At 184 pounds Minnesota’s Isiah Salazar is into the quarterfinals after he defeated South Dakota State’s Cade King in the first round with a 3-0 decision, then took down Drexel’s Brian Bonino by major decision 12-0. Salazar now faces top seeded Parker Keckeisen of Northern Iowa in the Quarterfinals Friday morning.

Minnesota still has four wrestlers alive in the consolation rounds after one loss on Friday. Patrick McKee at 125 pounds got an opening win 12-3 major decision over Harvard’s Diego Sotelo, however, he would fall in the second round to Virginia Tech’s Eddie Ventresca after surrendering the winning takedown late in the third period. McKee will face Northwestern’s Micheal DeAugustino in the consolation bracket Friday morning.

At 141 pounds Jake Bergeland upset Oklahoma State’s Carter Young 5-0 decision in his opening bout before falling in the second round to Nebraska’s Brock Hardy. Bergeland will face Colorado’s Matt Kazmier in the consolation bracket on Friday.

At 149 pounds Big Ten runner up Micheal Blockhus won his first match 3-2 over over Oklahoma State’s Victor Voinovich before falling in sudden victory 3-1 to Northwestern’s Yahya Thomas who he defeated in the Big Ten Championships. Blockhus begins his climb through the consolation brackets against Caleb Thomas from SIUE Friday.

At 165 pounds Andrew Sparks lost his first round match to Princeton’s Quincy Monday but won his first consolation match over Oklahoma’s Gerrit Nijenhuis in a 12-3 score to stay alive. He battles Iowa’s Patrick Kennedy in a consolation match Friday.

Both heavyweight Garret Joles and 197’s Michael Foy were eliminated by losing a pair of bouts Thursday.

Friday’s quarterfinals will air on ESPNU at 11 AM, with the semifinals at 6 PM on ESPN2. All consolation bouts can be streamed on WatchESPN.