March 3, 2006
The Big Ten Wrestling Championships are making their third stop in Bloomington this weekend, March 4-5, and will feature three sessions over two days. Indiana University has previously hosted the championships at Assembly Hall in 1972 and 1995.
All 11 teams participate in the championships, each sending one competitor per weight class. Pre-seeding for the tournament will be released on Monday, Feb. 27. The official brackets will be released after the coaches seeding meeting held on Friday, March 3 at Noon.
The history of the championships dates all the way back to the early 1900's. Early champions during the 1913-21 seasons were determined by the "Western Intercollegiate Gymnastics and Fencing Association" in an open meet (1918 and 1919: no meet held). Beginning in 1922, the league began crowning team champions based on dual meet records. The practice did not last long, as in 1926 the Big Ten began determining individual champions in a closed meet format. In 1934, the conference finally ushered in a point system that is still used today in crowning team champions.
Overall, Iowa leads the conference with 31 Big Ten titles, while Illinois (17), Indiana (13), Michigan (11) and Michigan State (8) round out the top five.
Iowa also holds the lead in individual titles with 180, while Michigan (114), Minnesota (77), Indiana (68) and Michigan State (63) round out the top five programs.
Only four teams have defended their title in back-to-back years. Illinois is one of the four and seeks to accomplish the feat again as the defending Big Ten champions. Iowa holds the longest consecutive win streak with 25 titles won from 1974-1998, while Michigan State won seven consecutive from 1966-72. Illinois captured five straight from 1924-28 and Indiana claimed four straight titles from 1931-34.
This year's event promises to be one of the best in the history of the championships. The Big Ten currently boasts nine teams ranked in the top 25 and over 50 wrestlers ranked in the top 20.