March 5, 2006
Championship Page | Finals Results | Complete Bracket
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - A year after watching the team title escape by less than seven points, the Minnesota Gophers claimed the 2006 Big Ten Wrestling Championship with emphatic performances from four individual title-winners to beat defending champion Illinois 138-125. The team trophy-holder for three straight seasons from 2001-2003 - a stretch that included two national team titles and undefeated seasons - the Gophers reclaimed the top spot in one of collegiate wrestling's most formidable conferences in a back-and-forth battle with the Illini for the top team spot.
Minnesota held a 3.5-point margin heading into the final day of competition, but Illinois took the lead by the slimmest of margins after the consolation semifinals, edging Minnesota 121-120 at the beginning of the championship final round. The Illini advanced five finalists but none could muster gold-medal performances.
Big Ten dual season champion Michigan finished third with 115 points followed by Penn State in fourth (91) and Northwestern in fifth (87.5). Iowa was close behind the Wildcats with 86 points for sixth place, and Wisconsin took seventh with 76.5 points and one individual champion. Closing out the team standings is Michigan State (68), Purdue (45.5), Indaina (43.5) and Ohio State (40).
Michigan State junior Nick Simmons kicked off the championship finals with a title repeat in the 125-pound bracket. In a rematch of last year's title bout with Illinois senior Kyle Ott, Simmons struck first, taking a 2-0 lead in the first period. He extended the lead 5-0 with a near fall in the second stanza and held on to win 7-0. Simmons has claimed the past three meetings between the two, including a major-decision earlier this season and a 4-2 decision in the 2005 final.
Indiana's top-seeded Joe Dubuque edged Northwestern's John Velez for third place, 2-1. Wisconsin's Colin Cudd claimed fifth-place honors, pinning Iowa's Lucas Magnani with one second left in the first period.
The hard-fought battle between two former Big Ten Champions in the 133-pound title bout needed several extra periods before Wisconsin senior Tom Clum emerged as champion over defending title-holder Mack Reiter in a 6-4 decision.
Clum took an early 2-0 lead in the first 20 seconds of the match, but Reiter responded with four unanswered points in the second period. Clum leveled the match at 4-all with a two-point reversal as the second stanza expired. A Minnesota sophomore, Reiter claimed Freshman of Year honors when he won the title as a rookie in 2005. Clum finished third last year but owned the 125-pound title in 2004.
Penn State's Jake Strayer pulled ahead of Michigan's Mark Moos, 9-6, in the final seconds of the match for third while Illinois' Gabe Flores took fifth-place honors in a win by default.
Michigan State's fifth-ranked Andy Simmons joined his brother among the title-winners with a win in the 141-pound ranks against Northwestern's Ryan Lang. The fifth-seeded sophomore from Northwestern, Lang took out defending champion Josh Churella on his way to the final bout but could not take out second-seeded Simmons, who was making his second consecutive trip to the finals.
Lang took an early 2-1 lead, but the finals veteran Simmons responded with a near fall to take a 4-2 lead. Simmons scored seven unanswered points to seal an 8-2 decision. Iowa's Alex Tsirtsis claimed third place with a 3-2 decision over Churella.
With the battle for the team title raging on between Minnesota and Illinois, the 149-pound title bout featured the first head-to-head meeting between the two teams in a championship final. It also marked the first of two title battles between the Schlatter and Tirapelle families.
Minnesota freshman Dustin Schlatter lived up to his No. 1 ranking in the country with a major-decision win over Illinois freshman Troy Tirapelle in their first meeting. The only unranked competitor in the finals, Tirapelle knocked off defending champion Eric Tannenbaum in the opening round and then took out second-seeded Ty Eustice to reach the final bout.
Eustice claimed third against Wisconsin's Tyler Turner while Tannenbaum finished in fifth with a win over J. Jaggers of Ohio State.
Taking the mat next for the 157-pound championship match were the older brothers of the Tirapelle and Schlatter families. CP Schlatter, the third-ranked grappler in the country, thwarted Illinois No. 1 Alex Tirapelle's hopes of becoming the first three-time champion since 2001 with a 5-2 decision for the gold medal.
After taking the crown in 2004 and 2005, Tirapelle struggled against Schlatter from the start of the match. Schlatter claimed the first points before taking a 4-0 lead in the opening period. Tirapelle battled back to within two but could not dampen Schlatter's quest to join his brother on the first place podium.
Indiana's Brandon Becker claimed third on his home mat with a 6-0 decision over Michigan's Steve Luke, and Wisconsin's Craig Henning took fifth place by default.
The Gophers looked to take their third-straight individual title with a senior Matt Nagel in the 165-pound final, but Michigan's defending champion Ryan Churella claimed his second straight title with a shut-out decision, 7-0. The No. 1 grappler in the country, Churella extended his perfect season record to 25-0.
Illinois picked up points from a third-place finish in Mike Poeta's 6-2 decision over Iowa's Eric Luedke, and Indiana's Max Dean earned fifth with a tough 2-1 win against Purdue's Dan Bedoy.
In his second trip to the finals, Northwestern sophomore Jake Herbert did not waste any time securing his first Big Ten title. In a battle that pitted the No. 2 and No. 3 wrestlers in the country against each other, Herbert fastened his grip on the conference's top spot, pinning Perry with 58 seconds left in the second period for the gold medal finish. Herbert fell, 4-3, to Illinois' Pete Friedl in last year's championship final as a freshman.
Michigan State's R.J. Boudro gritted out a 3-1 decision over Minnesota's Gabrield Dretsch for bronze. Penn State's James Yonushonis took fifth-place honors by default.
Minnesota took a 130-135 advantage into the third nose-to-nose title bout between Minnesota and Illinois grapplers in the 184-pound title bout. Illinois senior Pete Friedl already has a championship on his resume from winning last year's 174-pound bracket and took out defending champion and top seed Eric Bradley from Penn State in a 2-1 decision to make his second straight trip to the finals. But Minnesota sophomore Roger Kish used his two years of experience in the 184-pound group to beat out Friedl, 3-1, for the title. The win pushed Minnesota's lead to nine points, 134-135.
Purdue's second-seeded Ben Wissel edged Bradley in the third-place match, and Michigan's Tyrel Todd took out Northwestern's Mike Tamilow for fifth.
The 197-pound gold medal contest was scoreless through most of three periods until Penn State's Philip Davis surged to a 4-0 lead over Illinois Tyrone Byrd with 40 seconds left. The second seeded Davis was undefeated in Big Ten dual season. In the third-place match, Northwestern's Matt Delguyd beat out Michigan's Willie Breyer for the honors with a 3-1 decision. Purdue's Nathan Moore took home fifth place with a 9-6 win against Iowa's Dan Erekson.
In the heavyweight title match the No. 1 and 2 wrestlers in the nation collided in Minnesota junior Cole Konrad and Michigan senior Greg Wager. The defending champion, Konrad put a 35-win streak and perfect season on the line for a second straight gold. Wagner jumped on the board first with a one-point escape in the middle of the second period, but Konrad leveled the score with an escape of his own in the third stanza. The pair took the battle into extra periods, deadlocked at 1-all, but Konrad claimed the victory as time expired with a near fall for five points to seal the team win for the Gophers.
The top seven finishers of each weight class earned berths in the NCAA Championships, and the coaches selected two wildcards and two alternates from the pool of eighth-place finishers. The wildcard berths were given to Illinois' Cassio Pero, who finished eighth in the 141-pound bracket, and Michigan State's Darren McKnight from the 149-pound division. Alternate selections include Ohio State's Reece Humphrey (133-pound) and Steve Sommer (157-pounds), and Wisconsin's Jake Donar (165-pounds).
At the conclusion of the championships the Big Ten Conference handed out awards to Minnesota's Cole Konrad for Wrestler of the Year, Wisconsin's Tom Clum for Wrestler of the Championships, and Minnesota's J. Robinson for Coach of the Year.
In addition the All-Big Ten conference first and second teams were named with the first team consisting of the champions from each weight class and the second team made-up of the runner-up in each division. First team honorees include Michigan's Ryan Churella; Michigan State's Nick and Andy Simmons; Minnesota's Brandon Kish, Cole Konrad, and Dustin and C.P. Schlatter; Northwestern's Jake Herbert; Penn State Philip Davis; and Wisconsin's Tom Clum. Second team honors were awarded to Illinois' Tyrone Byrd, Pete Friedl, Kyle Ott, Alex and Troy Tirapelle; Iowa's Mark Perry; Michigan's Greg Wagner; Minnesota's Mack Reiter and Matt Nagel; and Northwestern's Ryan Lang.
For the second time ever, the conference gave team sportsmanship honors to one inidividual from every squad as selected by his head coach. The student-athletes chosen are individuals who have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior. In addition, the student-athletes must be in good academic standing and have demonstrated good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting. These student-athletes are now candidates for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award, as the Conference office will honor one male and one female student-athlete from each institution at the end of the school year.
The wrestling nominees for the honor include: Illinois senior Alex Tirapelle, Indiana sophomore Max Dean, Iowa senior Joe Johnston, Michigan senior Ryan Churella, Michigan State senior R.J. Boudro, Minnesota senior Matt Nagel, Northwestern senior John Velez, Ohio State junior Alex Picazo, Penn State junior James Yonushonis, Purdue senior Ben Wissel and Wisconsin junior Tyler Turner.