March 2, 2009
Conference officials announced the preliminary seeds for the 2009 Big Ten Wrestling Championships today. The pre-seeds are determined by a vote amongst the conference's head wrestling coaches after consideration of regular-season results. This year's Big Ten Wrestling Championships will take place Penn State University in University Park, Pa., at the Bryce Jordan Center on March 7-8. The official Big Ten Championships bracket will be set on Friday, March 6.
Five different schools are represented as No. 1 seeds in the 10 weight classes. Iowa and Wisconsin lead the way with the most top seeds at three apiece, while Northwestern features two wrestlers atop the preliminary seeding chart. Overall, of the 10 No. 1 seeds, nine rank among the top three in the nation in the latest USA Today/NWCA/InterMat Poll.
Iowa's Daniel Dennis (24-2 at 133), Brent Metcalf (28-0 at 149) and Daniel Erekson (18-6 at Hwt.) represent the Hawkeyes as top pre-seeds for this year's event. The Hawkeyes were Big Ten regular season dual champions and are currently the No. 1 nationally ranked team. Metcalf is in search of his second consecutive 149 lbs. conference title after winning at last year's competition where his performance also earned him Wrestler of the Championships honors. Dennis and Metcalf are the top-ranked wrestlers in the land at their respective weight classes, while Erekson currently ranks seventh among the national leaders.
Zach Tanelli (23-3 at 141), Andrew Howe (22-4 at 165) and Dallas Herbst (20-2 at 197) earned top-billing for Wisconsin. Tanelli, Howe and Herbst currently rank one, two and three, respectively, in the nation. After adding a 55th pin to his all-time Wisconsin pin record last Sunday against Ohio State, Herbst moved up to No. 3 on the national leaderboard. Meanwhile, Tanelli maintained the No. 1 ranking for the fifth straight week at 141. Howe's No. 2 ranking currently makes him the highest ranked freshman in the country.
Northwestern's top seeds consist of Brandon Precin (25-2 at 125) and Jake Herbert (26-0 at 184). Precin is ranked third in the country. Top-ranked Herbert will look to enter Saturday's championships coming off an impressive win over Phillip Keddy of Iowa, who ranks third on this year's pre-seed list.
Rounding out the top seeds are Illinois' Michael Poeta (10-0 at 157) and Michigan's Steve Luke (24-0 at 174). Both Poeta and Luke will be looking to retain their 2008 Big Ten titles at 157 and 174, respectively, joining Metcalf as the only three defending champions to be featured among this year's top seeds.
Last year Iowa won the conference championship with a score of 127.0 points, headed by 2008 Big Ten Wrestler of the Year Metcalf, who was the only Hawkeye to claim an individual title in the 149-pound bracket. Minnesota placed second (112.5) and Michigan (97.5), Illinois (94.0) and Ohio State (92.5) rounded out the top five.
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