National runner-up finish for U’s Nelson

Gopher senior Tony Nelson tussled with Iowa’s Bobby Telford in the NCAA 285 lb. semifinals. The 4-2 decision would be Nelson’s final victory over his outstanding collegiate wrestling career. Photos courtesy of U of M Athletic Communications

Gopher senior Tony Nelson tussled with Iowa’s Bobby Telford in the NCAA 285 lb. semifinals. The 4-2 decision would be Nelson’s final victory over his outstanding collegiate wrestling career.  Photos courtesy of U of M Athletic Communications

Isanti-native Tony Nelson wrapped up his collegiate wrestling career by placing second in the 285 lb. division at last weekend’s NCAA Division I championships held in Oklahoma City, Okl.

In Saturday night’s finals, Nelson suffered a sprained ankle in the third period, and North Carolina State’s Nick Gwiadzowski scored a 4-2 decision to unseat the two-time defending heavyweight champ from the University of Minnesota.

The Cambridge-Isanti graduate opened the national tournament with a 1-0 decision over UNI’s Cabell, then he pinned Oregon State’s Dhesi in the round of 16. Nelson kept rolling by sticking Wisconsin’s Medbery in 1:26 in their quarterfinal match.

Taking on another Big 10 foe in the semifinals, Nelson got past Bobby Telford of Iowa 4-2 for his third straight appearance in the 285 championship bout, part of his fourth All-American season.

Nelson finished the 2014 season with a 30-5 record for the Gophers. Over his four varsity seasons, he compiled a 128-16 record (89-percent winning rate). That victory total is 10th all-time for the prestigious Gopher wrestling program.

“It was an honor to wrestle for the U of M. I did not have an expectation of so much success, but how it turned out made it very fun.  I’ve made so many friends and memories,” said Nelson. “(Head coach) J. Robinson was a big help. He worked with me through the losses and help me get my head on straight. After the fourth loss during the regular season, he helped me regain confidence– ‘Focus on the Process!’”

Tony Nelson gets his armed raised after pinning Wisconsin’s Medbery in the national quarterfinals in Oklahoma City last weekend.

Tony Nelson gets his armed raised after pinning Wisconsin’s Medbery in the national quarterfinals in Oklahoma City last weekend.

Asked about his favorite memories, Tony said, “The two NCAA titles were awesome. The National Duals (team) titles were also great, as was beating Galegaev the Russian from Oklahoma State…probably the best guy I wrestled.”

“Time management was a big deal these past five years. Managing both athletics and academics required a lot of hard work on both ends,” Nelson continued. Looking ahead, he added, “For now, I will take a little time, let my ankle heal…then likely will train with the team next year toward a 2016 Olympic try out, along with working on my masters in Engineering.” – By Neil Jennissen & Greg Hunt

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