March 15, 2005
All 11 Big Ten schools will make their way to St. Louis, Mo., this weekend to compete in the 75th NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. The event will take place in the Savvis Center in downtown St. Louis, March 17-19.
Since 1991, the Big Ten has had one Conference team finish first or second each year. Last year, Iowa placed runner-up, while Ohio State tied for third. Four League squads -- Iowa (20), Minnesota (2), Indiana (1) and Michigan State (1) -- have combined for 24 NCAA team titles over the years. Illinois, the newly-crowned Big Ten Champion, will look for its first team title this weekend.
Big Ten wrestlers are represented well in each of the NCAA weight classes, including nine student-athletes seeded in the top three. The League has at least one wrestler seeded No. 3 or higher in seven of the 10 brackets.
Michigan State's Nick Simmons earned a No. 2 seed at 125 lbs., while Illinois' Kyle Ott is seeded third. Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Wrestler of the Championships, Mack Reiter of Minnesota, earned a No. 3 seed at 133. Michigan's Josh Churella is also a three-seed at 141, while teammate Eric Tannenbaum is seeded fifth at 149. At 157, No. 1 Alex Tirapelle of Illinois and No. 2 Ryan Bertin of Michigan have their sights set on renewing their rivalry in the championship match. Bertin defeated Tirapelle for the 2003 NCAA title and clinched third in last year's tournament with a win over the Illini grappler. Michigan's Ryan Churella is the No. 2 seed at 165 and Pete Friedl of Illinois is the three-seed at 174. In the 184-pound division, Penn State's Eric Bradley leads all League wrestlers with the No. 4 seed, while Ohio State's J.D. Bergman is the sixth seed at 197. In the heavyweight division, Minnesota's Cole Konrad has earned the No. 2 seed.
The Big Ten boasted three national champions last season as Iowa's Cliff Moore (141), Minnesota's Damion Hahn (197) and Ohio State's Tommy Rowlands (HWT) all won NCAA titles at their respective weights.