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Patrick McKee, Matt Ramos, wrestling
University of Minnesota 125-pound wrestler Patrick McKee loses his headgear as he works for a takedown against Purdue’s Matt Ramos at the Golden Gophers’ home dual last weekend. McKee’s takedown attempt did not count as time expired, giving Ramos a slight 4-2 decision. Staff photo by Johnnie Phillips
My first glimpse of Maturi
Johnnie Phillips, Sports Editor

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending my first-ever University of Minnesota Wrestling home dual at Maturi Pavilion, and the experience did not disappoint.

As a University of St. Thomas alum, I seldom made my way to the University of Minnesota during my college days, aside from attending the occasional football game.

When I agreed to shoot some photos and cover the action at the Golden Gophers home dual for some athletes on the team, I had no idea what to expect when I stepped onto campus.

As someone who is used to working at high school events and some Division Three games, I’ve grown accustomed to smaller, more intimate venues and the pace of the sports at their respective levels.

What I was not prepared for was the speed and grandeur of Division One athletics.

As someone who once dreamed of being a Division One athlete, I can tell you right now, the athletes who are competing at this level are close to the status of superhuman.

Instantly upon the beginning of the dual, all my confidence in my abilities as a photographer was tested.

With the lights flickering from full blast to complete darkness and athletes taking shots and sprawling faster than my trigger finger could comprehend, I struggled mightily at the beginning to ensure my settings and timing were correct.

Frustration after frustration occurred before I was finally able to pick up on some aspects of the sport that had eluded me previously.

What I was learning were the subtle intricacies of when and where athletes are looking to set up shots and take control of the hand fight.

Little did I know when I entered Maturi Pavilion that I would end up leaving the venue a better photographer – and more knowledgeable about a sport that I have come to love since moving to Minnesota.

Outside of growing as a photographer and learning about the sport, another experience I was fortunate enough to take home with me was seeing first-hand Minnesota’s love for wrestling.

Fans packed the arena and came out in full force to support their team from the very first whistle.

It did not feel like I was watching college athletes on the mats, but rather a team made up of local superstars.

To make matters even better, Minnesota came out with a hard-fought 20-12 win to appease the home crowd and improve its record to 10-2 overall.

Needless to say, I will be counting the days until I am able to make my way back to Maturi Pavilion to capture more action.

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