Gophers Head East for 2020 Big Ten Championships

The Gophers head to New Jersey for the 2020 Big Ten Wrestling Championships hosted by Rutgers University at the Rutgers Athletic Center. The best wrestling conference in the country will put their talents on display from March 7 at 9 am through the final session on March 8 at 2:30 pm.

The Gophers have six wrestlers seeded top-six entering the tournament. For a full review of the preseeds check HERE.

The tournament marks the first postseason experience for Pat McKee, Lee, Thomas, and O’Reilly. Dryden and Webster will get their first Division I action after previously competing at the NJCAA and Division III levels respectively.

Last season the Gophers finished in fourth place as a team with 101.5 points and Gable Steveson was a heavyweight finalist. The last time the Gophers won a team Big Ten title was 2007 and the last time an individual took the conference crown was Chris Dardanes in 2015.

Lineup
125: 3-seed Patrick McKee (17-6, 9-4 duals)
133: 11-seed Boo Dryden (4-4, 1-4)
141: 6-seed Mitch McKee (22-6, 11-5)
149: 3-seed Brayton Lee (22-4, 11-4)
157: 5-seed Ryan Thomas (15-9, 4-4)
165: 8-seed Bailee O’Reilly (20-9, 11-5)
174: 4-seed Devin Skatzka (25-8, 11-6)
184: 8-seed Owen Webster (20-9, 11-6)
197: 10-seed Hunter Ritter (23-8, 3-4)
HWT: 2-seed Gable Steveson (12-0, 12-0)

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Schedule (All time Central) *Doors open one hour prior to the start of each session.

Saturday, March 7
9:00am – Session 1
5:30pm – Session 2

Sunday, March 8
11:00am – Session 3
2:30pm – Session 4

Allocations
Each weight at the championships has a set amount of allocations where Big Ten wrestlers can automatically earn spots at the Big Ten Championships. These allocations are based on the coaches’ rankings, RPI, and wrestler winning percentage.

Below are the automatic allocations for Big Ten wrestlers:
125: 8
133: 7
141: 8
149: 10
157: 6
165: 8
174: 9
184: 10
197: 6
Hwt: 7

Television Information
The first three sessions of the tournament will be streamed live on BTN+. All BTN+ matches can be streamed HERE.

The final session on Sunday afternoon can be watched on the main Big Ten Network. All BTN matches can be streamed through the Fox Sports App.

Heavyweight U
Gable Steveson is looking to become the 18th Gophers heavyweight to win the Big Ten tournament. Runner-up last season, Steveson is 12-0 this season with 14 consecutive wins dating back to last year.

Since Brock Lesnar won the 1999 Big Ten title four different Gophers have combined for eight Big Ten heavyweight titles. That list includes Lesnar, Garrett Lowney, Cole Konrad, and Tony Nelson.

Within conference bouts, the three-time World Champion is averaging a takedown every 70 seconds and winning by an average score of 14.5 – 5.7.

Bulldog Brayton
Brayton Lee is entering his first collegiate postseason in the top-ten nationally slated to be seeded in the top-four at the conference tournament.

This season Brayton outscored his competition 192-105, over a three-point margin for the skilled takedown technician.

After a summer in Estonia as the USA Wrestling Junior 70kg representative, Lee is ready to face the conference’s best.

Returning Placers
The Gophers boast three returning placers from the 2019 Big Ten Championships. Heavyweight Gable Steveson led the group as a finalist while Devin Skatzka finished third and Mitch McKee placed fourth.

All three are also returning All-Americans seeking their second national honor. This season the leading trio has combined for 59 victories, with 40 of those earning bonus points. The hammers put opponents to their backs, too, with 18 combined falls.

McKee and Skatzka are set to graduate this spring while Steveson has two years of remaining eligibility.

First Timers
Minnesota has six wrestlers competing in their first Big Ten tournament. Some, like Boo Dryden and Owen Webster, have experience at other levels while there are plenty of underclassmen like Pat McKee, Brayton Lee, Ryan Thomas, and Bailee O’Reilly.

The group has five wrestlers currently seeded in a position to earn an automatic qualification.

Quick Facts
Last Gophers 125-pounds Big Ten Champion: Jayson Ness (2007)
Last Gophers 133-pounds Big Ten Champion: Chris Dardanes (2015)
Last Gophers 141-pounds Big Ten Champion: Michael Thorn (2010)
Last Gophers 149-pounds Big Ten Champion: Dylan Ness (2013)
Last Gophers 157-pounds Big Ten Champion: CP Schlatter (2007)
Last Gophers 165-pounds Big Ten Champion: Jacob Volkmann (2004)
Last Gophers 174-pounds Big Ten Champion: None
Last Gophers 184-pounds Big Ten Champion: Kevin Steinhaus (2012)
Last Gophers 197-pounds Big Ten Champion: Damion Hahn (2004)
Last Gophers Heavyweight Big Ten Champion: Tony Nelson (2014)

Jersey Entertainment
Rutgers is hosting a Jersey Boardwalk Music and Food Festival in between Saturday sessions of the tournament. Only a three-minute walk from the Rutgers Athletic Center, the event will feature live music and classic boardwalk foods.

VIP tents are available, for more information contact hospitality@scarletknights.com.

Next Up
The Gophers are set to host the NCAA Wrestling Championships for the first time since 1996 when the event was held at Williams Arena. With US Bank Stadium now lined up to house the competition, the tournament will welcome more than 35,000 people to a competition with a single session record of only 19,776.

Minnesota looks to earn a team trophy for the first time since 2014 and earn an individual championship for the first time since Tony Nelson accomplished it the previous year.

The last time a wrestler from the host school won an NCAA Championship in their city was Ohio State’s Kyle Snyder in 2018.

Check out Gopher Wrestling at gophersports.com and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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