Minnesota Holds On To Lead After Day One
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Top-ranked Minnesota continues to lead the field after session two competition at the 2007 Big Ten Wrestling Championships at Michigan State's Breslin Center. The Gophers carry a 121-81 lead over second-place Wisconsin heading into Sunday's finals.
Minnesota led after the quarterfinals and with five wrestlers in the championship--the most of all schools--and four more in the consolation-bracket they are on well on their way to defending its 2006 title. The next closest team is Penn State with 80.5 points followed by Indiana with 78.5. Iowa and Michigan are only separated by 1.5 points in fifth and sixth place, respectively. With 66 points Illinois leads Northwestern (63.5) for seventh. Rounding out the standings after day one is ninth place Ohio State (62), No. 10 Purdue (24.5) and No. 11 Michigan State (23).
No. 1 seed Nick Simmons kept his bid for a second title alive by defeating Penn State's Jake Strayer in the 133-pound weight division. The reigning 125-pound title holder defeated Strayer in a sound 4-2 matchup to advance to the finals against Indiana's No. 6 Andrae Hernandez. Hernandez has already guaranteed himself a better finish than last year (seventh) after handing Illinois' Jamie Kennedy a 3-1 decision.
The first top seed to fall in the semifinals was Minnesota's Manuel Rivera. Wisconsin's Kyle Ruschell gave Rivera his second loss of the season, winning a 7-4 decision. Ruschell was up 5-0 at one point, but the determined Rivera wouldn't let Ruschell take the final's spot so easily by coming back earning an escape followed by a takedown of his own to tighten the score. Nevertheless, Ruschell scored another takedown in the final minute of the third period to win 7-4 and advance to the championship match. Ruschell is the lone Badger in Sunday's finals and will face second-seed and last year's runner-up Ryan Lang of Northwestern.
Lang defeated Iowa's No. 6 seed Alex Tsirtsis who had knocked out third-seeded Andy Simmons earlier. The match was scoreless going into the final period until Lang erupted with four points to win a decisive 4-1 decision over the Hawkeye.
In the 149-pound bracket, Minnesota Dustin Schlatter scored four points in the firs period and held Tyler Turner the rest of the way to win a 4-0 victory over the Badger. In the other semifinal, Josh Churella punched his ticket to the finals with a 3-2 decision over Ohio State's Lance Palmer. The Wolverine scored the match's only offensive points with a takedown midway through the final period. With the win, Churella avenged one of his three losses of the regular season.
The Schlatter brothers both make it to the finals for the second consecutive year as CP Schlatter defeating Illinois' No. 1 Michael Poeta, 2-1, in extras. Schlatter will have a chance for a second 157-pound crown when he faces Indiana's Brandon Becker, to make it another exciting No. 1-2 seed match to watch.
Both 165-pound semifinal matches were major decisions as Michigan's Eric Tannenbaum won, 12-4, over Ohio State's Chris Vondruska and Hawkeye Mark Perry took care of Purdue's Justin Fraga, 9-1, to advance to the championship finals.
It was a little bit closer in the 174-weight division as Penn State's No. 1 James Yonushonis needed some extra time to ward of Minnesota's No. 4 Gabriel Dretsch, 3-1. The same for Michigan's Steve Luke who went into the first round of tiebreakers with Iowa's Eric Luedke and came out a 2-1 victor. After trading escapes in regulation and a scoreless sudden-victory period, the Wolverine wrestler rode out Luedke for the entirety of the first 30-second frame then turned for a quick escape in the second.
Two title holders are set to clash in the 184-pound class as reigning 184-pounder Roger Kish and last year's 174-pound title holder meet in Sunday's finals. Herbert advanced by defeating Michigan's Tyrel Todd, 8-1, and give the Wildcat's their second wrestler in the finals. Golden Gopher, Kish recorded the second pin of the championship session by taking down Ohio State's Mike Pucillo in the first period (1:33).
In the 197-pound bracket Ohio State's No. 4 James Bergman upset the No. 1 seed in Philip Davis. With a 6-4 decision, Bergman will face Northwestern's Mike Tamillow in the championship match. Bergman, who finished second at the 2005 event as a sophomore is the Buckeyes only wrestler in the championship finals.
Leading the way in the heavy weight competition, Minnesota's Cole Konrad counted his third win of the day against Iowa's Matt Fields. With an unblemished 29-win season already to his credit, Konrad will try to defend his back-to-back tournament crowns against Penn State's No. 2 Aaron Anspach. In his semifinal, Anspach clashed with Wildcat Dustin Fox in a furious first period that ended in a 6-6 tie. Scoring slowed the following to periods and deadlocked at 7-7 the two wrestlers headed to a sudden victory decision. Fox nearly scored two takedowns early in the extra frame, but action moved off the mat. With :30 left, Anspach shocked a tired Fox after capitalizing on a quick reset with a thrilling double-leg takedown to grab an impressive 9-7 (sv) decision.
The final day of competition begins Sunday at noon with the continuation of the consolation brackets. The finals in all 10 weight classes will follow with the Big Ten Conference team title still up for grabs.