Weather Forecast

Tyler Safratowich

Safratowich earns All-American honors

Email Sign up for Breaking News Alerts
sports Park Rapids,Minnesota 56470
Park Rapids Enterprise
Safratowich earns All-American honors
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

Tyler Safratowich had two main goals when he decided to wrestle at the University of Minnesota.

The first was to help the Gophers win a national title.

Safratowich fulfilled that goal in 2007 by going 2-2 in four tournament matches at 167 pounds as the U of M won the national title.

The second goal was to be an individual All-American.

The 2004 graduate of Park Rapids Area High School fulfilled that goal in his final opportunity Saturday by placing eighth at 157 pounds at the 2009 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships at St. Louis.

Safratowich entered his second NCAA tournament ranked No. 17 in the nation with a 29-12 record.

In Thursday's first round, the U of M senior defeated No. 10-ranked Scott Winston of Rutgers 5-2. Winston opened the first period with a takedown before Safratowich countered with an escape. Safratowich took a 4-2 lead in the second period with an escape and takedown before sealing the win with a point for riding time in the third period. Winston entered the tournament with a 38-7 record.

Safratowich advanced to the quarterfinals with a 7-4 win over No. 9-ranked Matt Moley of Bloomsburg in Thursday's second round. Safratowich opened with a takedown before Moley countered with an escape to end the first period. Moley tied the match with an escape early in the second period, but Safratowich took control with a takedown and nearfall for a 7-2 advantage. Moley had a takedown in the third period to end the scoring. Moley entered the tournament with a 31-5 record.

Friday's quarterfinals pitted Safratowich against No. 3-ranked Michael Poeta of Illinois. Poeta, who had a 13-0 record, used a pair of takedowns in the first period to build a 4-1 lead. Safratowich had a takedown in the second period, but two escapes by Poeta provided a 6-3 lead. Safratowich opened the third period with an escape, but two more takedowns by Poeta led to a 10-5 victory. That loss ended Safratowich's quest to be a national champion.

During Friday's wrestlebacks, Safratowich guaranteed himself All-American honors with a 6-4 victory over No. 8-ranked Adam Hall of Boise State. Safratowich opened with a takedown in the first period and used an escape early in the second period to build a 3-0 lead. Hall followed with a takedown, but an escape by Safratowich made it 4-2. An escape and a stalling point enabled Hall to tie the match at 4-4 in the third period, but Safratowich recorded a takedown as time expired to advance. Hall entered the tournament with a 31-4 record.

Safratowich was dropped into the seventh-place match with a 13-5 loss to No. 6-ranked Michael Chandler of Missouri. Chandler, who had a 27-6 record, opened the first period with a takedown and nearfall. After a reversal by Safratowich, Chandler closed the period with an escape and takedown for an 8-2 advantage. An escape by Safratowich provided the only scoring in the second period. Safratowich had a takedown early in the third period to close the gap to 9-5, but an escape and takedown by Chandler sealed the win. Chandler also received a point for riding time.

In Saturday's seventh-place match, Safratowich was defeated by Cal Poly's Chase Pemi 4-2 in overtime. After a scoreless first period, an escape gave Safratowich a 1-0 lead. Pemi opened the third period with a reversal to take the lead, but Safratowich escaped to tie the match. Pemi's takedown in overtime gave the nation's No. 11-rated wrestler seventh place. Pemi had a 22-7 record entering the tournament.

Top-ranked Jordan Burroughs of Nebraska capped off an undefeated season by defeating Poeta 5-1 in the championship match. No. 3-ranked Jordan Leen of Cornell defeated No. 4-rated Gregor Gillespie of Edinboro 4-0 for third place while Chandler edged Moley 2-1 for fifth place.

Safratowich ended his senior season with a 32-15 record to raise his career mark to 108-48. Safratowich ranks 26th all-time on the U of M career wins list. At Park Rapids, Safratowich was a three-time state champion and still holds the school record for wins at 146.

The Gophers tied for 14th place as a team with 35 points as Jayson Ness placed third at 133 and Zach Sanders finished sixth at 125. Iowa won the national title with 97.5 points.