#7 Returning NCAA Points: Minnesota Golden Gophers

Ethan Lizak 2017 NCAA semis

The upcoming NCAA season may only seem like a distant ship's smoke on the horizon during these long summer days, but that doesn't mean it's too early to start speculating about the 2017-18 season. But to start speculating, we'll need some information first. Just the basic facts.

To get a better idea of what we might see next season, we took a look back at the 2017 NCAA Wrestling Championships. We compared all the Division I programs by how many team points were earned by their underclassmen to see who will be returning the most firepower for the 2018 tournament.

Teams 11-20 | No. 10 Virginia Tech | No. 9 Lehigh | No. 8 Iowa | No. 6 Arizona State | No. 5 Missouri | No. 4 Michigan | No. 3 Oklahoma State

No. 7 Minnesota Golden Gophers: 40.5

The Gophers are ranked exactly as they finished at the 2017 NCAA Championships, in seventh place, which may seem surprising since their roster will sport seven wrestlers who scored points in St. Louis. 

Six of those wrestlers were in maroon and gold singlets last year. The seventh, Steve Bleise, scored points in the last two NCAA tournaments while wrestling for Northern Illinois. Bleise announced his transfer to Minnesota less than a month ago. 

WT NAME PTS
125 Ethan Lizak 18.5
133 Mitch McKee 4
141 Tommy Thorn 7.5
149 Steve Bleise 2
157 Jake Short 3.5
165 Nick Wanzek 3
184 Bobby Steveson 2
Ethan "Backpack" Lizak headlines the returning Gophers, having scored more NCAA points than any of his teammates thanks to a finals appearance in last year's 125-pound tournament. 

With the addition of Bleise, Minnesota head coach Brandon Eggum and company will have returning points at the first six weight classes. They'll need everyone to score again in Cleveland if they are going to improve on last year's seventh place finish, as the Gophers lost two-time All-American 197-pounder Brett Pfarr to graduation. 

It's expected that Bobby Steveson will slide up to 197 next year, with former DIII All-American and recent transfer Owen Webster being the early favorite among many Minnesota contenders to take over 184 pounds next season. 

NCAA qualifier Chris Pfarr is back at 174 pounds, though he didn't score any points at last year's tournament. Talented redshirt sophomore Rylee Streifel will likely take over for the departing three-time All-American Michael Kroells at 285. 

Keep on eye on 133-pounder Mitch McKee. The rising true sophomore had the toughest schedule of anyone last year, and with a full year of college competition under his belt, the newly minted junior world team member could be ready for a big year. You can watch McKee take out Nebraska's Eric Montoya at the Big Ten Tournament in the video below.



We'll take a closer at the No. 6 team next, so stay tuned. Until then, stay comfortable but not necessarily numb, as we have plenty more content about the impending NCAA wrestling season on the way.

Olympic Champ Khinchegashvili Loses Twice In One Day

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Olympic gold medalist Vladimer Khinchegashvili was one of a few stars competing this weekend in Russia, but he had a day he'd like to soon forget.

FloWrestler of the Week: Jacob Warner, Iowa

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At the Lindenwood Open there were two divisions, a freshman.sophomore division and an open division. 

Keystone Classic Seeds Released

Tony Rotundo Mark Hall 2017

The 2017 Keystone Classic is going to be lit. Over a dozen ranked wrestlers are headed to the Palestra in Philly on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. The Nittany Lions of Penn State headline the event by snagging eight No. 1 seeds. Check out the full list below.

5 Crucial Keystone Contests

Austin Bernard Matt McCutcheon

Hundreds of NCAA wrestlers, including 17 ranked in the top 20, are headed to the historic Palestra on UPenn's campus in Philadelphia for the 2017 Keystone Classic on Sunday.

FloWrestling Login Procedures

Tony Rotundo NCAA Finals green carpet

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Five Ranked Matchups In Minnesota At Oklahoma State Dual

Austin Bernard Nick Piccininni

We've got a Sunday matinee for you, and the slate is full of intriguing matchups.

What 2 Watch 4: Iowa Returns To Carver-Hawkeye

Tony Rotundo Brandon Sorensen Iowa

You know it's definitely wrestling season when (a) Whiteboard Wars return and (b) the Iowa Hawkeyes kick off their season with the Iowa City Duals.

T-Row & Funky Episode 91: Live and Worldwide

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Ben is in Singapore for his retirement fight, but that won't stop the T-Row & Funky Show from breaking down the week in news and NCAA Wrestling results!

Flo Kickoff Classic 15u Preview

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By Ryan Lance, Youth1

The 2017 Flo Kickoff Classic is bringing together some of the top youth wrestlers in the country for its 21st annual tournament this weekend at the Expo Square Pavilion in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Boise State President Bob Kustra To Retire

© Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports BSU Bob Kustra

Bob Kustra, the long-serving president of Boise State University and the driving force behind the school’s decision to abruptly drop the varsity wrestling program last spring, has announced that he will retire at the end of the school year, effective June 30, 2018.