Minnesota Captures Second Consecutive Big Ten Title

March 5, 2007

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EAST LANSING, Mich. - It may just be the year of the Gopher as Minnesota claimed the 2007 Big Ten Wrestling Championship with a stand out performance and overcame the field by more than 50 points. 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 last year.

Minnesota held a 40-point margin heading into the final day of competition and never looked back, increasing its lead by claiming four individual titles. At the end of the day, Wisconsin - second after day one - remained the closest team to the Gophers with 100.5 points. The Badgers advanced just one to the championship final, but picked up valuable consolation wins with eight wrestlers. 

Iowa finished third with 91 points followed by Penn State in fourth (90.5) and Indiana in fifth (86). Northwestern was close behind the Hoosiers with 84 points for sixth place, and Illinois took seventh with 83.5 points. Closing out the team standings is Michigan (79.5), Ohio State (68.5), Purdue (33) and Michigan State (30.5).

Minnesota's freshman Jayson Ness kicked off the championships finals with a 12-1 title blow out in the 125-pound bracket. Ness built a 4-0 lead before Iowa's Charlie Falck mustered an escape to light up the board. However, Ness extended his lead 6-1 by the end of the first period. Ness continued to build his lead from there, getting a reversal and three-point near fall in the second to cruise to the victory and claim his 19th consecutive victory. Ness ended the championships with two pins and a major decision.

Indiana's No. 3 Angel Escobedo edged Illinois' Gabe Flores for third place, 5-2. Wisconsin's Colin Cudd claimed fifth-place honors, defeating Penn State's Mark McKnight, 5-4.

Behind a hometown crowd, Michigan State's Nick Simmons won his third straight title by beating sixth-seeded Andrae Hernandez of Indiana, 6-4. This was Simmons first at 133 pounds after claiming the 125-pound title the past two years. The Spartan was up 4-0 at one point, but No. 6 Hernandez didn't make it easy on the top seed by cutting the lead to 5-4 with a late reversal. Simmons notched a riding-time point (3:21) for the 6-4 victory.
Minnesota's Mack Reiter pinned Illinois' Jamie Kenndy in 4:02 for third while Penn State's Jake Strayer took fifth-place honors in a win by medical forfeit.

After taking the runner-up spot last year, Northwestern's Ryan Lang finally stood tall on the podium peak in the 141-pound ranks with a win over Badger Kyle Ruschell. Lang ranks first in the nation but was the No. 2 seed coming into this weekend behind Minnesota's Manuel Rivera. Lang would lead the whole frame, scoring first by landing one of his first shots for a two-point, double-leg takedown just over halfway through the first period. The top-ranked Wildcat notched a 5-1 decision over Ruschell to remain undefeated on the season at 25-0. Iowa's Alex Tsirtsis claimed third place with a 6-0 decision over Michigan State's Andy Simmons.

The 149-pound weight class was the first to feature a returning title holder. Minnesota sophomore Dustin Schlatter lived up to his No. 1 ranking in the country with a 3-2 win over Michigan junior Josh Churella. It was also the second time a No.1 and No. 2 seed clashed. In a very evenly contested match, Schlatter got a takedown 20 seconds in and rode Churella out for nearly the entire second period, which proved to be the difference. Schlatter avoided danger in the second when Churella nearly took him down with a single-leg but he scrambled out and held on for the victory. With three wins this weekend, Schlatter extended his winning streak to 62 consecutive matches.

Buckeye Lance Palmer claimed third against Penn State's Dan Vallimont while Badger Tyler Turner finished fifth with a win over Matt Coughlin of Indiana.

With his younger brother locking up a second title, older brother CP Schlatter would not be outdone. The 157-pounder defended his 2006 Big Ten title with a 1-0 decision over Indiana's No. 2 Brandon Becker. Like his brother, CP Schlatter would lock up his title by a decisive ride out point.

Wisconsin's Craig Henning claimed third with a 7-2 decision over Illinois' No. 1 Michael Poeta, and Iowa's Ryan Morningstar took fifth place, 9-2, over Penn State's Bubba Jenkins.

The Hawkeyes took their first individual title when junior No. 2 Mark Perry took a 5-2 decision over top ranked Wolverine Eric Tannenbaum in the 165-pound final. A three-time Big Ten finalist, Perry won his first conference title while handing Tannenbaum his first loss of the season.

Minnesota continued to rack up more points from a third-place finish in Tyler Safratowich's 7-5 decision over Purdue's Justin Fraga, and Ohio State's Chris Vondruska earned fifth with a 3-0 win against Illinois' Roger Smith-Bergsrud.

In the 174-pound weight division another No. 2 seed overcame the top seed to be victorious. In just his second week back on the mat after injury, Luke didn't seem to have lost a step as he controlled the match from the start. With a pair of takedowns, Luke mounted a 5-2 decision for his first conference trophy.

Iowa's Eric Luedka won a 6-3 decision over Gabriel Dretsch for bronze. Indiana's Trevor Perry took fifth place honors with a 4-1 decision over Matt Maciag of Wisconsin. 

In a battle that pitted the No. 1 and No. 2 wrestlers in the country against each other, Northwestern's Jake Herbert fastened his grip on the conference's top spot, defeating Minnesota's Roger Kish 8-1 for his second Big Ten title. The win was Northwestern's second individual title of the night.

Michigan's fourth-seeded Tyrel Todd won a 12-3 major decision over Wisconsin's Trevor Bradnvold in the third-place match, and Illinois' John Dergo too fifth after a medial forfeit.

The 197-pound gold medal contest was full of offense as Wildcat Mike Tamillow grappled to a 7-3 early lead over Ohio State's James Bergman. The fourth-seeded Buckeye, Bergman took out defending champion Philip Davis on his way to the final bout but could not take out second-seeded Tamillow, who was making his first trip to the finals. Tamillow picked up three more points in the second stanza and managed his lead in the third to win a 10-5 decision. Wisconsin's Dallas Herbst took home third place with a 6-4 win against Davis. 

In the heavyweight title match the No. 1 and 2 seeded wrestlers in the conference collided in Minnesota senior Cole Konrad and Penn State senior Aaron Anspach. The two-time defending champion, Konrad needed only two periods to capture his third straight Big Ten title by pinning Anspach midway through the second stanza. Konrad used a body lock to take Anspach down in the first period and after a restart quickly rolled him to his back to get the fall in 2:20. The victory was Konrad's 70th in a row as he became just the fifth wrestler in school history to win three Big Ten individual titles.