Iowa heavyweight Bobby Telford advanced to the Big Ten semifinals on Saturday. Photo by Darren Miller, University of Iowa.
Penn State grabs early lead, with Iowa, Minnesota close behind at Big Ten Championships
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Penn State edged Iowa by one point to win the 2011 Big Ten Championships.
We may be on our way to another similar finish this year.
The top-ranked Nittany Lions and third-ranked Hawkeyes are locked in another tight battle as the two-day Big Ten Championships kicked off on Saturday before 3,552 fans at Purdue University's Mackey Arena
Penn State took the early lead with 78.5 points while Iowa is second with 69 points. The Nittany Lions and Hawkeyes both advanced eight wrestlers into the semifinal round during the tournament's first session. The semifinals are set for 5 p.m. Saturday.
Second-ranked Minnesota is third with 59 points and six in the semifinals. No. 17 Illinois is fourth with 40.5 points and four in the semis. Seventh-ranked Ohio State is fifth with 36 points and three in the semis.
The Big Ten has secured 74 automatic qualifying spots for the NCAA Championships, set for March 15-17 in St. Louis. An additional 40 at-large spots will be awarded from all conferences on Wednesday for the NCAA tournament.
Leading Penn State's list of semifinalists are returning Big Ten champions Frank Molinaro (149 pounds), David Taylor (165), Ed Ruth (174) and Quentin Wright (184).
Wright went on to win an NCAA title last year while Molinaro and Taylor, the 2011 Big Ten Wrestler of the Year, placed second at the NCAAs.
The second-seeded Wright escaped with an overtime win over No. 7 seed Tony Dallago of Illinois in the quarterfinals.
Penn State received a pivotal quarterfinal victory at 197 when Morgan McIntosh outlasted Ohio State's Andrew Campolattano 3-1 in overtime in a battle of talented true freshmen.
Michigan senior Kellen Russell (141) kept his hopes alive for a fourth Big Ten title by reaching the semifinals. Russell won an NCAA title last year.
Iowa junior Matt McDonough (125) moved to the semifinals and is seeking his second straight league title. McDonough won an NCAA title in 2010 and was second in the nation in 2011. McDonough will face Jesse Delgado of Illinois in the semis. Delgado handed McDonough his only loss of the year before McDonough beat him in a rematch at the National Duals.
Iowa received a key win at 157 when No. 6 seed Derek St. John rallied to beat No. 3 James Green of Nebraska 6-4 in overtime. St. John was second in this event last year, but has missed much of this season with a knee injury.
Sixth-seeded freshman Bobby Telford also came through for Iowa when he knocked off No. 3 Ben Apland of Michigan 6-4 in the quarterfinals at heavyweight.
Minnesota suffered a key loss at 197 when top seed Sonny Yohn dropped a 9-5 decision to No. 8 A.J. Kissell of Purdue in the quarterfinals.
Penn State 78.5, Iowa 69, Minnesota 59, Illinois 40.5, Ohio State 36, Purdue 30, Northwestern 25.5, Nebraska 25, Michigan 20, Indiana 11, Michigan State 10, Wisconsin 1.
Matt McDonough (Iowa) vs. Jesse Delgado (Illinois)
Nico Megaludis (Penn State) vs. Zach Sanders (Minnesota)
Logan Stieber (Ohio State) vs. Cashe Quiroga (Purdue)
B.J. Futrell (Illinois) vs. Tony Ramos (Iowa)
Kellen Russell (Michigan) vs. Nick Dardanes (Minnesota)
Montell Marion (Iowa) vs. Hunter Stieber (Ohio State)
Frank Molinaro (Penn State) vs. Ivan Lopouchanski (Purdue)
Dylan Ness (Minnesota) vs. Eric Grajales (Michigan)
Jason Welch (Northwestern) vs. Anthony Jones (Michigan State)
Derek St. John (Iowa) vs. Dylan Alton (Penn State)
David Taylor (Penn State) vs. Conrad Polz (Illinois)
Robert Kokesh (Nebraska) vs. Mike Evans (Iowa)
Ed Ruth (Penn State) vs. Nick Heflin (Ohio State)
Ethen Lofthouse (Iowa) vs. Logan Storley (Minnesota)
Kevin Steinhaus (Minnesota) vs. Grant Gambrall (Iowa)
Josh Ihnen (Nebraska) vs. Quentin Wright (Penn State)
A.J. Kissell (Purdue) vs. Mario Gonzalez (Illinois)
Morgan McIntosh (Penn State) vs. Matt Powless (Indiana)
Tony Nelson (Minnesota) vs. Mike McMullan (Northwestern)
Bobby Telford (Iowa) vs. Cameron Wade (Penn State)