March 4, 2011

Wrestling Wreport: the Big Ten Championship edition

The Penn State wrestling team heads to Evanston, Ill this weekend to take part in the Big Ten Championships. The two day event starts Saturday at 11 a.m. and ends with the championship round on Sunday at 4 p.m. The championship round will air live on the Big Ten Network. We'll take a quick look after the jump.

The Big Ten conference was allotted 64 automatic qualifiers by the NCAA and break down by weight class as follows:
125: 5
133: 8
141: 6
149: 8
157: 6
165: 5
174: 8
184: 6
197: 6
HWT: 6
It just so happens that the three toughest weight classes (if you go by most automatic bids allotted) are weights Penn State is pre-seeded #1. In fact a Penn State wrestler is pre-seeded #1 in 5 of the 10 weight classes overall. Pre-seeds are not locked in the coaches meet today and finalize the seeds. There could be some movement but usually not at the top.

Before we go any further we need to answer a couple questions. There were questions about who will represent Penn State at 165 and 197 and they've been answered. Redshirt freshman James Vollrath will get the starting nod over Jake Kemerer at 165 and freshman Nick Ruggear will get the start over Justin Ortega at 197. You always want to win but at this point any wins by either of these guys will be bonus. I'm not saying they won't fight hard but they're just not weights Penn State will be counting on. Ruggear has wrestled in 6 Big Ten duals and lost all of them. Vollrath does have two victories against Big Ten foe but they were backups and he lost to Dan Yates of Michigan who is pre-seeded 6th. Let's take a look at Penn State's pre-seeds.

Nat. Rank*Pre-Seed
125Brad PatakyMS4
133Andrew LongMS1
141Andrew Alton25
149Frank Molinaro41
157David Taylor11
165James VollrathNRNS
174Ed Ruth21
184Quentin Wright118
197Nick RuggearNRNS
285Cameron Wade41
*I used the RPI ranking for their National Rank, some people use intermat or the coaches poll. RPI and the coaches are used in formulas for deciding at-large qualifiers for the Nationals after all the conference championships have concluded so they actually mean something. Pataky and Long did not meet the minimum number of matches to qualify for a RPI ranking.

125 lbs.
1. Matt McDonough, IOWA
2. Brandon Precin, NU
3. Zach Sanders, MINN
4. Brad Pataky, PSU
5. Sean Boyle, MICH
6. Justin Brooks, IND
7. Camden Eppert, PUR
8. Tom Kelliher, WIS
133 lbs.
1. Andrew Long, PSU
2. Tyler Graff, WIS
3. Tony Ramos, IOWA
4. B.J. Futrell, ILL
5. Levi Mele, NU
6. David Thorn, MINN
7. Zac Stevens, MICH
8. Ian Paddock, OSU
141 lbs.
1. Kellen Russell, MICH
2. Montell Marion, IOWA
3. Mike Thorn, MINN
4. Jimmy Kennedy, ILL
5. Andrew Alton, PSU
6. Kaleb Friedly, NU
7. Jake Fleckenstein, PUR
8. Shane McQuade, WIS
149 lbs.
1. Frank Molinaro, PSU
2. Andrew Nadhir, NU
3. Kurt Kinser, IND
4. Eric Terrazas, ILL
5. Cole Schmitt, WIS
6. Eric Grajales, MICH
7. Dan Osterman, MSU
8. Danny Zilverberg, MINN
157 lbs.
1. David Taylor, PSU
2. Derek St. John, IOWA
3. Jason Welch, NU
4. Colton Salazar, PUR
5. Paul Young, IND
6. Brandon Zeerip, MICH
7. Sean McMurray, MSU
8. Matt Mincey, MINN
165 lbs.
1. Andrew Howe, WIS
2. Colt Sponseller, OSU
3. Cody Yohn, MINN
4. Aaron Janssen, IOWA
5. Conrad Polz, ILL
6. Dan Yates, MICH
7. Ryan LeBlanc, IND
8. Kevin Bialka, NU
174 lbs.
1. Ed Ruth, PSU
2. Nick Heflin, OSU
3. Scott Glasser, MINN
4. Luke Manuel, PUR
5. Ethen Lofthouse, IOWA
6. Ben Jordan, WIS
7. Justin Zeerip, MICH
8. Curran Jacobs, MSU
184 lbs.
1. Travis Rutt, WIS
2. Kevin Steinhaus, MINN
3. Grant Gambrall, IOWA
4. Ian Hinton, MSU
5. Tony Dallago, ILL
6. A.J. Kissel, PUR
7. Cody Magrum, OSU
8. Quentin Wright, PSU
197 lbs.
1. Trevor Brandvold, WIS
2. Luke Lofthouse, IOWA
3. Logan Brown, PUR
4. Matt Powless, IND
5. Sonny Yohn, MINN
6. Anthony Biondo, MICH
7. Joe Barczak, ILL
8. Peter Capone, OSU
285 lbs.
1. Cameron Wade, PSU
2. Ricky Alcala, IND
3. Blake Rasing, IOWA
4. Tony Nelson, MINN
5. Ben Apland, MICH
6. Eric Bugenhagen, WIS
7. Joe Rizqallah, MSU
8. Ben Kuhar, NU

David Taylor and Ed Ruth are locks at 157 and 174 respectively. Ruth did not wrestle 2nd seeded Nick Heflin of OSU so there is a small amount of uncertainty but Ed is on the top of his game right now. Taylor, on the other hand, is an absolute lock I would be shocked if he doesn't win and win big. Not only has no one beaten him in the Big Ten but no one has kept it less than a major. Oh by the way he has a fall and 8 Tech falls in Big Ten play. The only guy all year that kept him from scoring bonus points is Jesse Dong of Virginia Tech way back in the Nittany Lion Open finals and it was still a 9-3 beat down. Put that one in the books. I think they send at the very lease 7 to nationals and most likely 8, any more than that and I'm sure they win the Big Ten's.

This is Pataky's last chance and he's still wrestling on a gimpy knee. It won't be easy, McDonough is the returning National Champ and Precin is the only guy to beat him all season. Regardless, Pataky has wrestled with a lot of heart over his career and I expect him to place in the top 5 and make the Nationals.

Long's only loss came to 3rd seeded Tony Ramos of Iowa (of course) but he bounced back and dominated Tyler Graff of Wisconsin 12-5 in the season ending dual. I expect Long to make it to the finals at least and he has a good shot at winning.

Andrew Alton is in a stacked weight in the Big Ten, it's not so much complete from top to bottom but the top five wrestlers are very good. Alton has had a tough time, losing to top seeded Kellen Russell three times by a combined 4 points. In fact in his 6 losses he's lost by only 11 total points. The good news is he's seen the top competition and in some cases more than once. Andrew is a lock to finish 6th or better and make the Nationals but how high he finishes is anybody's guess.

Frank Molinaro had a disappointing 8th place finish in the Big Ten's last year before finishing strong in the Nationals and taking home All-American honors. He hasn't wrestled 2nd seeded Andrew Nadhir of NU but he's beaten Kurt Kinser and Eric Terrazas (3 and 4 seed) by 5 points or more. Anything less than a finals appearance will be a disappointment and he most likely is a solid favorite to win.

That brings us to the enigma that is Quentin Wright. He finished the season horribly, losing his last three, each worse than the previous loss. It's a far cry from his 3-1 2nd place freshman campaign two years ago. Having said all that, I never doubt Quentin, he's been listening to all the negatives said about him and if there's one thing we all know about Wright is he has a huge heart and I expect him to wrestle well. The Open Mat preview says it best:

Although Wright has not wrestled well, he may be the most dangerous eight seed in the tournament.
Then there's the bulldozers. This season Heavyweight is probably the toughest weight to predict and Wade is easily the shakiest 1 seed. All these guys are pretty close. Wade's only loss came to Joe Rizqallah of MSU the 7th seed but he beat 2nd seed Ricky Alcala handedly (6-0). Anything could happen at 285, I'm not even going to hazard a guess but to say that I'm confident Wade will finish in the top 6 and make it to nationals.


Penn State is coming into this season's tournament completely different than last season. Although Iowa is the defending champs, Penn State has a lot of buzz surrounding them and no one will take them lightly. If they finish at their pre-seeds they will win the championship but that's a big 'if', winning 5 of the 10 weight classes is a tall order. I'm not going to predict that they will win it all but I do think it comes down to Iowa and Penn State.


Post a Comment