GREAT NEWS FOR FIVE SPARTAN WRESTLERS

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Five Spartans earn automatic bids to the NCAA Championships.  Photo courtesy of MSU SID.

Five Spartans earn automatic bids to the NCAA Championships. Photo courtesy of MSU SID.

 

EVANSTON, Ill. – Five Spartans have qualified for the NCAA Championships following their performances in the Big Ten Wrestling Championships on Saturday at Welsh-Ryan Arena on the campus of Northwestern University, as Dan Osterman (149 pounds), Sean McMurray (157), Curran Jacobs (174), Tyler Dickenson (197) and Joe Rizqallah (heavyweight) all earned bids to nationals.

“This is just a brutally tough tournament,” said Spartan head coach Tom Minkel. “I thought our guys competed and wrestled pretty darn well against the top competition in the country. We had some guys really step up to qualify for the NCAA Championships, which was encouraging to see.”

Rizqallah, a No. 7 seed at heavyweight, won his first two matches of the day in session one over Zach Stolarsky of Ohio State and No. 2 seed Ricardo Alcala of Indiana to advance to the semifinals against third-seeded Blake Rasing of Iowa.

Rasing edged Rizqallah, 2-0, in the semifinal match, but Rizqallah had already secured a top-six finish to qualify for the NCAA Championships. Rizqallah, who still has the opportunity to finish as high as third place, will face Ben Apland of Michigan in the consolation semifinals on Sunday.

“Joe’s win over Alcala was huge for him,” Minkel remarked. “Alcala’s a really tough wrestler, and Joe got a takedown in the second overtime. He wrestled well against Resing, but he just couldn’t get away from him late.”

Dickenson won two matches in Saturday night’s second session to assure himself a top-six finish at 197 pounds, which qualified him for the NCAA Championships for the first time in his career. The junior opened the tournament with an upset over fourth-seeded Matt Powless of Indiana, but fell in the quarterfinals to No. 5 seed Sonny Yohn of Minnesota.

The Pewamo, Mich., native bounced back with victories over Penn State’s Nick Ruggear, 4-0, and Ohio State’s Peter Capone, 6-4. Dickenson will start session three against third-seeded Logan Brown of Purdue in the consolation semifinals.

“I’m thrilled for Tyler,” said Minkel. “He got a really tough draw and came up with a big win in his first match over the No. 4 seed. He did a much better job today of being aggressive against quality competition.”

True freshman Sean McMurray also won two matches in session two at 157 pounds to qualify for nationals. McMurray dropped a 13-4 major decision to Iowa’s Derek St. John in the quarterfinals, but rallied with two shutout wins to remain alive for Sunday’s session three. He first topped Shawn Perry of Wisconsin, 6-0, then held off Jackson Morse of Illinois, 2-0. McMurray goes up against fifth-seeded Paul Young of Indiana in the consolation semifinals to begin session three.

“Sean is a tough, hard-nosed kid,” Minkel said. “For him to qualify for nationals as a true freshman in this conference is remarkable. The sky’s the limit for him.”

At 174 pounds, junior Curran Jacobs assured himself a top-eight finish in his weight class, which will send him to the NCAA Championships for the first time in his career. Although he fell to top-seeded Ed Ruth of Penn State in the quarterfinals, Jacobs needed just one win to qualify and did just that with a 2-0 victory over Indiana’s Nick Avery in the consolation bracket. Jacobs then fell to Purdue’s Luke Manuel, 6-1; he will wrestle seventh-seeded Justin Zeerip of Michigan in the seventh-place match on Sunday.

Dan Osterman, needing a top-eight finish at 149 pounds, secured his first trip to the NCAA Championships with a win in the first round in session one over Ohio State’s Mike Fee. The St. Johns, Mich., product then lost to second-seeded Andrew Nadhir of Northwestern, 4-3, in the quarterfinals, and to third-seeded Kurt Kinser of Indiana, 4-2, in the consolation second round. Osterman will wrestle Wisconsin’s Cole Schmitt, a No. 5 seed, in the seventh-place match tomorrow.

Junior Ian Hinton, MSU’s top seed at No. 4 in the 184-pound weight class, did not automatically qualify and will now have to wait and see if he can receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships.

Hinton defeated Eric Cameron of Indiana in the first round, but was pinned by Tony Dallago of Illinois in the quarterfinals. Hinton fought hard against top-seeded Nick Rutt of Wisconsin in the consolation second round, however, he came up just short, falling 1-0. Needing a top-six finish to automatically qualify for the NCAAs, Hinton will wrestle sixth-seeded A.J. Kissel of Purdue in the seventh-place match.

 “Ian needs to win tomorrow to place seventh, and he may have a shot as an at-large qualifier,” said Minkel. “He wrestled well today, he just caught got late in his quarterfinal match, and got a tough break when he had to go against the top seed in the consolation bracket.”

Two Spartans (Eric Olanowski, 125 pounds; Nick Kaczanowksi, 165) were eliminated in session two and will not wrestle on Sunday. Olanowski went 1-2 in the tournament, including a 7-5 sudden victory over Justin Brooks of Indiana in the first round of the consolation bracket. Kacaznowski went 0-2 in his first appearance at the Big Ten Wrestling Championships.

As a team, the Spartans are in 10th place with 38.5 points. Penn State is currently in first place with 110.5 points, while Iowa is right behind with 109 points.

The Big Ten Wrestling Championships conclude Sunday afternoon. Session three will begin at 2 p.m. ET, while the first-, third- and seventh-place matches will begin at 4 p.m. ET. The Big Ten Network will televise the Big Ten Wrestling Championships live, beginning at 4 p.m. ET.

NOTES ON NCAA QUALIFIERS:

The NCAA announced the qualifier allocations for the 2011 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships on Feb. 23. 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 (5), 133 (8), 141 (6), 149 (8), 157 (6), 165 (8), 174 (8), 184 (6), 197 (6), and heavyweight (6).

After all of the qualifying events have concluded, the NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee will meet in-person to select the remaining 48 at-large qualifiers, which will be announced on March 9. All weight classes will consist of 33 wrestlers (total of 330).

The NCAA Championships will be held March 17-19 in Philadelphia.