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Big Ten Wrestling Championships to begin this weekend

logo_big_tenROSEMONT, Ill. – The 100th Big Ten Wrestling Championships are set for this Saturday and Sunday, March 8-9, at the Kohl Center on the campus of the University of Wisconsin.

The event gets underway at 10 a.m. CT on Saturday, with the preliminary and quarterfinal matches taking place in Session I. Session II begins at 5 p.m., as semifinals and the opening rounds of wrestlebacks conclude the day’s action. Consolation semifinals and seventh-place matches get underway at 11 a.m. on Sunday, while first-, third- and fifth-place matches begin at 1 p.m.

BTN will provide live streaming coverage of the Big Ten wrestling preliminaries, beginning at 10 a.m. CT on Saturday. Streaming coverage will continue with select matches in Sessions II and III, while the championship rounds will be carried live on the network. Tim Johnson, Jim Gibbons and Shane Sparks will call the action.

Penn State enters the championships looking for its fourth-straight Big Ten title, after earning crowns in 2011, 2012, 2013. The Nittany Lions aim to become just the fifth Big Ten school to win four-straight conference titles and the first since Iowa won 25 consecutive crowns from 1974-1998. Last season, Penn State earned 151 team points, followed by Minnesota and Iowa with 139 and 133.5 points, respectively.

Eight wrestlers that took home Big Ten titles last season return to this year’s championships, with Illinois’ Jesse Delgado (125 pounds), Ohio State’s Logan Stieber (133; wrestling this season at 141) and Hunter Steiber (141; wrestling this season at 149), Minnesota’s Dylan Ness (149; wrestling this season at 157), Penn State’s David Taylor (165), Matt Brown (174) and Ed Ruth (184), Minnesota’s Kevin Steinhaus (184), Illinois’ Mario Gonzalez (197) and Minnesota’s Tony Nelson (285) each earning crowns at last year’s event. Ruth and Taylor each aim to become just the 12th and 13th four-time conference champions in Big Ten history.

The championships’ 10 top seeds are spread across five schools. Penn State holds five No. 1 seeds, with 125-pounder Nico Megaludis, 141-pounder Zain Retherford, 165-pounder David Taylor, 184-pounder Ed Ruth and 197-pounder Morgan McIntosh earning top billing in their weight classes. Nebraska brings two top-seeded grapplers into the championships, while Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin each hold one top-ranked wrestler. The Hawkeyes’ Tony Ramos (133), Wolverines’ Adam Coon (285) and Badgers’ Isaac Jordan (157) have each earned No. 1 seeds, while the Huskers’ Jake Sueflohn (149) and Robert Kokesh (174) round out the group of top-ranked grapplers.

Nine Big Ten teams enter the championships ranked in the USA Today/NWCA/AWN Division I Coaches Poll, with conference squads claiming the top three spots and five in the top 10. Minnesota tops the poll at No. 1, followed by No. 2 Penn State, No. 3 Iowa, No. 7 Michigan, No. 8 Nebraska, No. 11 Ohio State, No. 15 Wisconsin, No. 19 Northwestern and No. 20 Illinois. Purdue is receiving votes.

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