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Five Spartans earn automatic bids to the NCAA Championships

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Five Michigan State wrestlers have qualified for the NCAA Championships following their performances in the Big Ten Championships on Saturday at Mackey Arena on the campus of Purdue University. Anthony Jones Jr. (157 pounds), David Cheza (165), Curran Jacobs (174), Ian Hinton (184) and Steve Andrus (HWT) have all earned bids to nationals.

Anthony Jones Jr., the No. 4 seed at 157 pounds, can finish as high as third place and will face No. 3 James Green of Nebraska in the consolation semifinals of session three tomorrow. Jones advanced to the semifinals after a 7-2 decision over No. 5 Josh Demas of Ohio State, securing him at least a sixth-place finish and a trip to NCAAs for the third time in his career.

Jones squared off against top-seeded Jason Welch of Northwestern and lost a close 4-2 decision in the semifinals. Although Jones was down 4-0 in the third period, he recorded a takedown late and had a shot on Welch with only 15 seconds left in the period, but Welch held Jones off for the win.

Senior David Cheza will make his second career trip to nationals after upsetting No. 4 Ben Jordan of Wisconsin in the consolation bracket, 7-3. Cheza lost a major decision to Dan Yates of Michigan, 11-4, in his session one match but secured a top-eight finish and will face Pierce Harger of Northwestern in the consolation semifinals in session three.

At 174 pounds, Curran Jacobs, the No. 6 seed, took down No. 12 Frank Cousins of Wisconsin in the consolation bracket, 4-0, punching his ticket to his second career NCAA Championships. Jacobs is assured a top-eight finish as the Big Ten will send nine wrestlers to NCAAs in the 174-pound weight class.

In session one, Jacobs went 1-1 and defeated No. 11 Drake Stein of Purdue before falling to No. 3 Ethen Lofthouse of Iowa.

Senior Ian Hinton, the No. 8 seed at 184 pounds, qualified for his third career NCAA Championships and his first at 184 pounds. Hinton will face Quentin Wright of Penn State in the consolation semifinals of session three tomorrow.

After losing a 10-2 major decision to Kevin Steinhaus of Minnesota in session one, Hinton won a 3-2 overtime decision over Luke Sheridan of Indiana and won by injury default over C.J. Magrum of Ohio State in session two.

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Junior Steve Andrus will make his first trip to the NCAA Championships after two wins in the consolation bracket in session two. Andrus won by injury default over Roger Vukobratovich of Purdue and defeated Cole Tobin of Wisconsin, 4-2. Andrus assured himself at least a sixth-place finish as the Big Ten will send 10 heavyweight wrestlers to NCAAs.

In session one, Andrus recorded a win over No. 7 Adam Chalfant of Indiana, 6-4, and lost to No. 2 Cameron Wade, 10-0. Andrus will face No. 5 Mike McMullan of Northwestern in the consolation semifinals to start session three.

Junior Dan Osterman lost in the consolation bracket to Eric Terrazas of Illinois, 3-1, but is still alive for an NCAA bid after defeating Frank Baer of Wisconsin by fall in 4:13. Osterman will wrestle Iowa's Mike Kelly in the ninth-place match on Sunday; the top-nine wrestlers in the 149-pound weight class receive automatic bids to the NCAA Championships.

Brenan Lyon (125 pounds), Brandon Fifield (133), Brian Gibbs (141) and Nick McDiarmid (197) were each eliminated in session two and will not compete on Sunday.

As a team, the Spartans are tied for 10th place with 35.5 points. Minnesota is currently in first place with 117 points.

The NCAA announced the qualifier allocations for the 2012 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships on Feb. 22. Each qualifying tournament was awarded spots per weight class based on current year data. Each wrestler was measured on the following: Division I winning percentage; rating percentage index (RPI); and coaches ranking. This year, the following allocation numbers per weight class for the Big Ten are: 125 (6), 133 (7), 141 (5), 149 (9), 157 (6), 165 (8), 174 (9), 184 (7), 197 (7), and heavyweight (10).

After all of the qualifying events have concluded, the NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee will meet in person to select the remaining 40 at-large qualifiers, which will be announced on March 7. All weight classes will consist of 33 wrestlers (total of 330).

The NCAA Championships will be held March 15-17 in St. Louis.