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RUTGERS REGIONAL: Sanders, Dardanes twins power Minnesota to regional crown

Zach Sanders beat Missouri's Alan Waters and Kent State's Nic Bedelyon on Saturday. (University of Minnesota photo).

By Steven Miller
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Minnesota head coach J Robinson likened wrestling 125-pounder Zach Sanders to a race. Opponents may hang with him early, but if they cannot keep pace, Sanders will win every time.

No one kept pace with Sanders on Saturday at the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals, and no one kept pace with Minnesota, which beat Missouri, 26-7, to advance from the regional bracket at the Louis Brown Athletic Center in Piscataway, N.J., to next week’s NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals Finals.

“Before we started here, I said, ‘This is do or die,’” Robinson said. “We got beat by Cornell, we come back and have another chance. We get beat by Iowa, we come back and get another chance. There’s no chance in this. When it’s over it’s over, so we have to win the close ones. They’re starting to get that. They’re starting to put that pressure on, that heat on that makes a difference.”

It was close for the Golden Gophers only for a moment.

Sanders started the day for top-seeded Minnesota against fourth-seed Kent State in a battle of top-five 125-pounders. Nos. 2, 3 and 4 nationally in the weight class were represented at the regional, and second-ranked Sanders first draw was No. 4 Nic Bedelyon, who held a 3-1 lead as he rode Sanders.

“You’re not looking at the overall picture, you’re looking at winning the next point, then winning the next point, then winning the next point,” Sanders said. “Just take the next 20 seconds as it is, and then work on the next 20 seconds. You don’t look at the whole match at once, otherwise it gets out of control.”

After those next 20 seconds, Sanders led, 5-3.

“The thing with Sanders is you have to wrestle him the entire time,” Robinson said.

“You’re not going to get a six-minute match with Sanders, so you better bring your lunch and a lantern. He’s going to make you wrestle.”

Officials hit Bedelyon for penalty point, Sanders escaped to knot it at 3, and then he quickly scored a takedown. He won by an 8-4 decision to give Minnesota its first points, and the Gophers never trailed.

They beat Kent State, 35-3, to advance to the finals, where they met No. 3 seed Missouri, which upended second-seeded Michigan, 21-12, in the semifinals.

Sanders started against third-ranked Alan Waters and won by an 8-6 decision.

“My parents came out here and it’s kind of a long way, so I was hoping I could get some good matches for them,” said Sanders, a Wabasha, Minn., native. “It was neat that they came and I got to wrestle the No. 3 and No. 4 guys.”

More ranked matches followed, and Minnesota won each one until Mizzou’s 17th-ranked Drake Houdashelt earned a 6-4 decision against Daniel Zilverberg.

The Gophers were already ahead 14-0 at that point, courtesy of major decisions from top-10 wrestlers Chris and Nick Dardanes at 133 and 141 pounds, respectively, and a sudden victory decision from 10th-ranked Dylan Ness at 149 over Kyle Bradley, who had earlier upended Michigan’s Eric Grajales.

“Not only do you have Sanders, but you have the two Dardanes in there, and those guys are fighters and battlers,” Robinson said. “They’re going to go out and lead the way you want. Those guys get us started.”

There was little doubt at that point that Minnesota would hold on.

The only bouts they lost all day were a pair at 157 — Alec Ortiz fell, 8-4, to Kent State’s Mallie Shuster — and at 197, where Mizzou’s seventh-ranked Brent Haynes scored a 10-0 major decision against No. 6 Sonny Yohn. It was Haynes’ second win over Yohn this season.

“Our coaches put a lot of emphasis on this, just wrestling our style and knowing our guys are out there to impose their will,” said 133-pound Chris Dardanes. “That’s how everybody on our team wrestles, and you have to feed off of that. That’s our standpoint when it comes to a big dual like this.”

Not everyone shared that perspective.

Sixth-seeded Cal Poly forfeited 174, 184 and 197 pounds to give Rutgers a 22-21 lead in its consolation match, but won heavyweight to take the dual. Cal Poly fell to Missouri, 34-6, in the first round. Michigan wrestled only one match after its first-round bye, as Mizzou won the final three bouts to take the match.

But there was never any doubt Minnesota was in control, as Sanders set the pace and the rest of the team followed, giving the Gophers the first spot in the Final Four.

“It’s the first one there’s ever been one, so why wouldn’t we be excited?” Robinson said. “If the people who are supposed to get in get in … then we get a chance to wrestle two of the three people who beat us this year. We’re excited about going. We want it at our place. We think we can get a ton of fans there. We’re excited about the whole thing.”


125 - Zachary Sanders (Minnesota) over Alan Waters (Missouri) Dec 8-6
133 - Christopher Dardanes (Minnesota) over Nathan McCormick (Missouri) Maj 15-5
141 - Nick Dardanes (Minnesota) over Brandon Wiest (Missouri) Maj 15-7
149 - Dylan Ness (Minnesota) over Kyle Bradley (Missouri) OT 8-6
157 - Drake Houdashelt (Missouri) over Daniel Zilverberg (Minnesota) Dec 6-4
165 - Cody Yohn (Minnesota) over Zach Toal (Missouri) Dec 6-3
174 - Logan Storley (Minnesota) over Dorian Henderson (Missouri) Dec 2-0
184 - Kevin Steinhaus (Minnesota) over Clarence Neely (Missouri) Dec 6-0
197 - Brent Haynes (Missouri) over Sonny Yohn (Minnesota) Maj 10-0
285 - Anthony Nelson (Minnesota) over Devon Mellon (Missouri) Dec 4-1

125 - Zachary Sanders (Minnesota) over Nicholas Bedelyon (Kent State) Dec 8-4
133 - Christopher Dardanes (Minnesota) over Steve Mitcheff (Kent State) Maj 12-3
141 - Nick Dardanes (Minnesota) over Tyler Small (Kent State) Maj 12-4
149 - Dylan Ness (Minnesota) over Marcel Clopton (Kent State) Dec 6-2
157 - Mallie Shuster (Kent State) over Alec Ortiz (Minnesota) Dec 8-4
165 - Cody Yohn (Minnesota) over Ross Tice (Kent State) Pin 1:22
174 - Logan Storley (Minnesota) over Brandonn Johnson (Kent State) Maj 13-3
184 - Kevin Steinhaus (Minnesota) over Casey Newburg (Kent State) TF 16-1
197 - Sonny Yohn (Minnesota) over Keith Witt (Kent State) Dec 3-1
285 - Anthony Nelson (Minnesota) over Brendan Barlow (Kent State) OT 5-4

125 - Alan Waters (Missouri) over Grant Pizzo (Michigan) TF 19-4
133 - Zachery Stevens (Michigan) over Nathan McCormick (Missouri) Dec 7-3
141 - Kellen Russell (Michigan) over Brandon Wiest (Missouri) Dec 7-2
149 - Kyle Bradley (Missouri) over Eric Grajales (Michigan) 2OT 5-3
157 - Drake Houdashelt (Missouri) over Brandon Zeerip (Michigan) Dec 7-3
165 - Daniel Yates (Michigan) over Zach Toal (Missouri) Dec 4-1
174 - Justin Zeerip (Michigan) over Dorian Henderson (Missouri) Dec 2-0
184 - Clarence Neely (Missouri) over David Johnson (Michigan) Dec 6-5
197 - Brent Haynes (Missouri) over Maxwell Huntley (Michigan) Maj 8-0
285 - Devon Mellon (Missouri) over Benjamin Apland (Michigan) Dec 4-3


125 - Nicholas Bedelyon (Kent State) over Vincent Dellafave (Rutgers) Maj 11-0
133 - Joseph Langel (Rutgers) over Steve Mitcheff (Kent State) Dec 5-4
141 - Tyler Small (Kent State) over William Ashnault (Rutgers) Dec 4-2
149 - Mario Mason (Rutgers) over Marcel Clopton (Kent State) Dec 7-3
157 - Mallie Shuster (Kent State) over Dave Seidenberg (Rutgers) Dec 7-2
165 - Ross Tice (Kent State) over Doug Hamann (Rutgers) Dec 9-3
174 - Greg Zannetti (Rutgers) over Brandonn Johnson (Kent State) Maj 8-0
184 - Casey Newburg (Kent State) over Dan Seidenberg (Rutgers) Dec 7-4
197 - Daniel Rinaldi (Rutgers) over Keith Witt (Kent State) Dec 5-3
285 - Brendan Barlow (Kent State) over Carl Buchholz (Rutgers) OT 4-2

125 - Alan Waters (Missouri) over Michael Clemmensen (Cal Poly) Pin 4:21
133 - Nathan McCormick (Missouri) over Jacob Tanenbaum (Cal Poly) Dec 9-6
141 - Borislav Novachkov (Cal Poly) over Nicholas Hucke (Missouri) Dec 6-4
149 - Kyle Bradley (Missouri) over Adam Aslam (Cal Poly) Maj 12-3
157 - Drake Houdashelt (Missouri) over Gianpier Yanez (Cal Poly) Pin 3:48
165 - Dominic Kastl (Cal Poly) over Zach Toal (Missouri) OT 3-1
174 - Dorian Henderson (Missouri) over Ryan DesRoches (Cal Poly) Dec 3-2
184 - Clarence Neely (Missouri) over Ryan Smith (Cal Poly) Forf
197 - Brent Haynes (Missouri) over Ryan Smith (Cal Poly) Dec 6-1
285 - Devon Mellon (Missouri) over Kelan Bragg (Cal Poly) Dec 5-3

#6 CAL POLY 24, #5 RUTGERS 22

125 - Britain Longmire (Cal Poly) over Unknown (Unattached) Forf
133 - Jacob Tanenbaum (Cal Poly) over Joseph Langel (Rutgers) Dec 8-4
141 - Borislav Novachkov (Cal Poly) over William Ashnault (Rutgers) OT 1-0
149 - Mario Mason (Rutgers) over Adam Aslam (Cal Poly) Maj 24-11
157 - Gianpier Yanez (Cal Poly) over Anthony Perrotti (Rutgers) Dec 6-5
165 - Dominic Kastl (Cal Poly) over Doug Hamann (Rutgers) Pin 3:28
174 - Greg Zannetti (Rutgers) over Unknown (Unattached) Forf
184 - Dan Seidenberg (Rutgers) over Unknown (Unattached) Forf
197 - Daniel Rinaldi (Rutgers) over Unknown (Unattached) Forf
285 - Kelan Bragg (Cal Poly) over Daniel Hopkins (Rutgers) Dec 3-2
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