The Minnesota Gophers wrestling team saw two of their wrestlers upset higher seeded foes to make it to the Big Ten Championship Finals Sunday afternoon in Ann Arbor. Redshirt freshman Aaron Nagao upset the #3 and #2 seeds as the #6 seeded wrestler to make to the finals at 133 pounds. At 149 pounds redshirt senior Michael Blockhus also made the run from the #6 seeded position upsetting the #3 seed before knocking off the #7 seed in the semifinals.
Nagao started his day on Saturday with a 10-2 major decision win over #11 seed Henry Porter of Indiana. In the quarterfinals he faced off against #3 seed Lucas Byrd of Illinois in sudden victory after the match was tied at 2 after regulation time. He then faced #2 seed Jesse Mendez of Ohio State in the semifinals coming back from a 4-0 deficit to force sudden death at 4-4 and then gaining the winning takedown in OT for a 6-4 win. Nagao will face #1 seed and defending NCAA Champion Roman bravo-Young of Iowa in the finals.
Aaron Nagao punched his ticket to the #B1GWrestle finals in style with a takedown in SV! @GopherWrestling x @B1GWrestling pic.twitter.com/163FN3UICQ— Minnesota on BTN (@MinnesotaOnBTN) March 5, 2023
Blockhus started his day by getting a pin of #11 seed Dayne Morton of Nebraska. In the quarterfinals he faced #3 seed Northwestern’s Yahya Thomas and knocked him off 8-2. Both Morton and Thomas had defeated Blockhus in the regular season.
In the semifinals Blockus got a bit of a break facing #7 seed Graham Rooks of Indiana who had previously upset #2 seed Austin Gomez of Wisconsin. Blockhus dominated Rooks earning a 6-2 victory and advancing to the Championship bout Sunday afternoon against #1 seed Sammy Saso of Ohio State.
& !— Minnesota Wrestling (@GopherWrestling) March 5, 2023
Michael Blockhus DOMINATES in the semis and he'll battle for a conference title tomorrow night!#GopherTough // #SkiUMah pic.twitter.com/oz1weDTPOX
Minnesota had a trio of other wrestlers advance to the semifinals but Patrick McKee, Bailee O’Reilly and Isiah Salazar were all tripped up in their bouts. McKee will face #3 seed Matt Ramos of Purdue for a spot in the third place match at 125 pounds, O’Reilly will face #7 seed Nelson Brands of Iowa to advance to the third place match at 174 pounds, and Salaar will face #8 seed Brian Soldano for a spot in the third place match at 184 pounds.
Minnesota sits in fifth place at a team with 73 points through the first day of competition.
The three Gophers in the consolation semifinals will face off starting at Noon on BTN+, and then the Championship, third and 5th place matches will air live on Big Ten Network beginning at 3:30 PM.
Good luck to the Gophers in their attempt to bring back Big Ten titles to Dinkytown!