Audio Interview: Brandon Eggum
The Minnesota wrestling program, led by veteran head coach J Robinson, has announced its schedule for the 2012-13 season. In addition to conference duels against perennial talents Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska, the Gophers will contest Oklahoma State, Oregon State, and Hofstra as part of this year's challenging slate.
"We are excited for the coming season after all that this young team accomplished last year," said head coach J Robinson. "All of our young guys have a year of experience under their belts, and with leadership from NCAA Champion Tony Nelson and Big Ten Champion Kevin Steinhaus and a great dual meet schedule with Iowa, Illinois, Hofstra, and Oklahoma State, it is going to be a fun year for our fans and for the team."
The Gophers will begin their season at home, hosting Hofstra on Nov. 9 before moving to compete at the 42nd annual Bison Open the next day. Six wrestlers, including Tony Nelson, Kevin Steinhaus, and Dylan Ness, look to defend their individual titles at the tournament in Fargo, N.D.
On Nov. 16, Minnesota travels to Lincoln, Neb. for an early conference meeting with the Cornhuskers. Two days later, the boys will return to the Sports Pavilion where they will meet Boise State in an afternoon matchup. The team will journey back to Fargo over Thanksgiving weekend for another tournament event. In addition to the host school, the Maroon and Gold will also compete against Stanford, Eastern Michigan and Cambell University.
Minnesota welcomes Oklahoma State to the Twin Cities on Dec. 2 to begin a three-match homestand. The Gophers look to break a five-season losing streak against Robinson's alma mater, which finished the 2011-12 season at No. 3 on the NWCA/USA Today Coaches Poll.
Oregon State and Northwestern pay visits to the Pavilion on Dec. 8 and 9, respectively. Starting fresh in the New Year, Minnesota will once again participate in the Southern Scuffle in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Big Ten action takes over in mid-January. The Gophers battle Ohio State (Jan. 11) and Indiana (Jan. 13 in a weekend road trip to Midwestern neighbors.
Next up, Minnesota will see two of its biggest and best known rivalries. The team hosts Illinois on Jan. 20 in the Sports Pavilion and Iowa on Jan. 27 at the program's traditional bout held next door in Williams Arena. Minnesota's final home meet is scheduled for Feb. 3 against the Spartans of Michigan State.
A trip to Madison, Wis. to face the badgers is the last conference stop for the Gophers before prepping for the National Duals Tournament. After finishing in the top four last year, Minnesota receives a bye in Regionals and automatically advances to the National Dual Finals on Feb. 24.
The 2013 Big Ten Championships will take place March 9-10 with Illinois as the hosts. The 2013 NCAA National Championships are scheduled for March 21-23 in Des Moines, Iowa. Nelson and Steinhaus are both back to defend their prowess after earning Big Ten titles in 2012. Nelson continued on to claim the national championship in the heavyweight class.