Big Ten Wrestling Takes to the Mats This Weekend
Nov. 2, 2006
Six Big Ten wrestling squads will open their 2006-07 season this weekend at the Eastern Michigan Open, while another will compete on the road in a triangular meet. Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State and Purdue will travel to Ypsilanti, Mich., on Saturday for the EMU Open, while Wisconsin heads to Green Bay, Wis., to face Dubuque and UW-Oshkosh on Friday.
The Big Ten boasts a conference-best five teams in the USA Today/InterMat/NWCA Preseason Division I Coaches Poll, which ties the Big 12's contingent. However, the Big Ten's five teams are ranked in the nation's top 10, while the teams from the Big 12 encompass five of the top 18 spots. In all, nine of the 11 Big Ten teams are ranked in the top 25 poll, while Wisconsin is receiving votes. The conference is led by No. 1 Minnesota, which was a unanimous selection, followed by No. 5 Iowa, No. 7 Michigan, No. 8 Penn State, No. 10 Northwestern, No. 15 Ohio State, No. 16 Illinois, No. 17 Michigan State and No. 19 Indiana.
Additionally, five Big Ten grapplers are ranked first in their respective weight classes. Northwestern junior Ryan Lang is rated as the nation's best at 141 pounds, followed by Minnesota sophomore Dustin Schlatter (149), Northwestern junior Jake Herbert (184), Penn State junior Phil Davis (197) and Minnesota senior Cole Konrad (HWT).
Last season, for the third-straight year, a pair of Big Ten wrestling squads finished in the top-five at the NCAA Championships, while a conference team earned a top-two finish for the fourth consecutive season. Led by runner-up Minnesota and fourth-place Iowa, the Big Ten took four of the top 10 team spots and nine of the top 25 places at this season's event.
Displaying its national dominance, the Big Ten boasted individual national champions or runners-up in eight of the 10 weight classes, including an all-Big Ten final for the 149-pound title. Indiana's Joe Dubuque claimed his second-straight NCAA title at 125 pounds, while Minnesota's Schlatter and Konrad took home the 149-pound and heavyweight championships, respectively. Six conference grapplers earned second-place finishes in Purdue's Chris Fleeger (133 pounds), Iowa's Ty Eustice (149), Michigan's Ryan Churella (165), Northwestern's Herbert (174), Minnesota's Roger Kish (184) and Penn State's Davis (197).