Gopher Lightweights Fuel 19-15 victory over Binghamton

MINNEAPOLIS — After trailing 12-6 at the break, the University of Minnesota wrestling program has won four of its last five bouts, defeating Binghamton 19-15.

The comeback for Maroon & Gold was fueled by two debut second-half wins as both Troy Spratley and Aaron Nagao have achieved decisive victories in their first career starts. The Gophers would end the duel, winning six games out of ten.

“It was definitely a slow start but I think the second half of the line-up did a really good job for us,” said coach Eggum. “We fell into a little trap where we had a hard time engaging and we had trouble taking shots from a distance and getting into scrambles. The goal is to get better every week. We did some things well today and there are things we definitely need to work on. We had some guys who were good at wrestling when we needed them and we’ll try to improve in some of those positions as the season progresses.

The Dual would start at 165 pounds, since Andrew Sparks opened the duel with a 3-2 decision win over Dimitri Gamkrelidze. Trailing 1-0 in the third, Sparks opted for neutral and converted a takedown in the final frame to earn the deciding win.

At 174 pounds, Jared Krattiger would earn a decision victory of his own, knocking out a ranked enemy at No. 33, Brevin Cassella. Krattiger started the match strong with an opening takedown that would prove to be the difference in his fight.

“[Krattiger] seemed really focused on this one and he used his attacks really well early on. Towards the end of the third he almost had a few more takedowns there, but it’s a big win for him and of course it was very important for us in doubles,” said coach Eggum.

After three straight decision losses to wrap up the first half, the Gophers opted to leave a true freshman Troy Spratley to make his first career start against former NCAA qualifier Micah Roes. Again it was the gopher grappler executed on his feet as Spratley fired the opening takedown and didn’t look back en route to a 4-3 decision win.

“Spratley looked great in the hall and we know he’s going to be a great gopher for us in the future,” said coach Eggum. “To get a chance to come out and wrestle as a redshirt, which he can do this year because of the new rule, he took full advantage of the opportunity so it was exciting for us to see him at the Maroon & Gold. “

Aaron Nagao followed that performance with an impressive debut performance of his own, defeating Binghamton’s Ivan Garcia 8-2. Nagao scored a takedown in each period and secured the win with well over two minutes of driving time.

“I don’t think it was my best, I think I have a lot more to show the fans, but I’m happy with the win,” said Nagao. “If anything, I was excited to go out there and poke this guy’s head on the mat. I wanted more points and I think I could have gotten to his legs at any time, but I’m happy to get my team’s heads back in there and show how dominant we are.”

After another Gopher debut fell short at 141 pounds Vance Vom Baurs 9-7 loss of decision, Michael Blockhus earned a 5-3 decision victory over Michael Zarif to end the duel 15-15.

That led to a crucial contest at 157lbs, where fans watched the much-anticipated debut of the season for No.2 Brayton Leewho rolled to a 14-5 major decision to win the duel for the “U”.

Lee fired from all guns early and often, securing three takedowns in the opening stages and continuing to rack up points on the board with three more takedowns and a drive timing to complete the bonus point win.

“The first match of the season, there’s always a bit of nervousness, but I was excited to go out and wrestle again,” Lee said. “I tried to soften the guy up a little bit for the first few minutes and when the opening was there I wanted to take it and not hold anything back.”

After the win, the Gophers are 1-0 this year while Binghamton are down 0-3 on the season.

The Gophers now look ahead to the state of South Dakota, where they will face off against the Jackrabbits next Sunday, November 27th at Frost Arena. Minnesota will then return home to face off against Augustana on Thursday, December 1 at 7:00 p.m

FINAL RESULTS:
165: #27 Andrew Sparks (MINN) Dec. Dimitri Gamkrelidze (BING), 3-2
174: Jared Krattiger (MINN) Dec #33 Brevin Cassella (BING), 4-3
184: #22 Jacob Nolan (BING) Dec #10 Isaiah Salazar (MINN), 5-4
197: #7 Lou DePrez (BING) pinned #28 Garret Joles (MINN), 2:16
HWT: Cory Day (BING) Dec Keaton Kluver (MINN), 3-2
125: Troy Spratley (MINN) Dec. Micah Roes (BING), 4-3
133: #21 Aaron Nagao (MINN) Dec. Ivan García (BING), 8-2
141: Nate Lucier (BING) Dec. Vance vom Baur (MINN), 9-7
149: #18 Michael Blockhus (MINN) Dec. Michael Zarif (BING), 5-3
157: #2 Brayton Lee (MINN) Maj. Dec. Connor Decker (BING), 14-5

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