Mar. 10, 1997

Spartan Grapplers Travel to Iowa for NCAAs

UP NEXT: Thurs.-Sat., March 20-22 NCAA Championships Cedar Falls, Iowa All Day
THIS WEEK: The Michigan State University wrestling team will be off until March 20, when the All American trio of David Morgan (Jr., Ferndale), Erich Harvey (Sr., Allegan), and Brian Picklo (Sr., Saginaw) will begin competition in the NCAA Championships. Morgan placed third at last year's NCAA Championships, while Harvey and Picklo each finished fifth. Harvey is making his fourth straight trip to nationals, and Morgan and Picklo are going for the second year in a row.

BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS: The Michigan State grapplers began postseason action last weekend, traveling to Minneapolis, Minn., for the Big Ten Conference Championships. As a team, the Spartans finished eighth, accumulating 48.5 team points. Iowa finished first, capturing its 24th straight Big Ten title. MSU fared better individually though, as each of their All-Americans garnered individual honors. Morgan won his second consecutive 118-pound championship, while Picklo finished second at 190, and Harvey came in third at 177 pounds. All three qualified for the NCAA Championships, March 20-22 in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Morgan, seeded No. 1, began defense of his 118-pound crown with a 6-1 decision over Tim Dernlan of Purdue in Session I of the tournament, moving on to the semifinals.

In the semifinals, Morgan scored a 15-7 major decision over 1996 Olympic Silver Medalist Brandon Paulson of Minnesota, advancing to the championship match against Lindsey Durlacher of Illinois. Morgan and Durlacher traded takedowns and escapes throughout the first three periods, finishing regulation knotted at seven, extending the match to sudden-death overtime. Just over a minute into the extra session, Morgan scored a takedown to claim the championship. At 190 pounds Picklo, also a No. 1 seed, advanced to the championship as well. He got there by way of a 3-1 victory over Karl Roesler of Illinois in Session I, and a 3-1 overtime defeat of Penn State's Rob Neidlinger.

In the final, Picklo, ranked No. 4 nationally,

squared off against No. 3 Tim Hartung of Minnesota for the third time this season. The two split a pair of matches earlier in the season, with Hartung winning 1-0 at the National Duals, and Picklo scoring a 2-1 tie-breaker victory during the Big Ten dual meet season. The third meeting proved just as exciting as the previous two, with each wrestler able to manage only a single escape point through the first three periods. Hartung then scored a takedown just under a minute into the overtime session to end the match.

In the 177-pound weight class, Harvey lived up to his No. 3 seed, downing Minnesota's Brandon Eggum, 6-0, to grab third place. Harvey pinned Frank Morici of Penn State at the 4:13 mark in Session I, then lost to Jevon Herman of Illinois in the semifinals, 3-1 in overtime. The loss is Harvey's second overtime defeat at the hands of Herman this season. Harvey then faced Joel Goededn of Northwestern in the consolation semifinals, coming away with a 13-4 major decision before wrestling Eggum in the consolation final.

Other wrestlers competing for Michigan State in the Big Ten Championships: Jason Nusbaum (Fr., Centerville) at 126 pounds; Issac Miller (So., Flint) at 134; Sam Hakim (Fr., Randolph, NJ) at 142; Adam Elderkin (Fr., Sand Lake) at 150; Greg DeGrand (So., Ann Arbor) at 158; Ralph Conte (Sr., Cleveland, OH) at 167; and Jason Peterson (Sr., Garden City) at heavyweight. All finished the tournament 0-2. Final team standings for the Big Ten Championships are as follows: 1st place, Iowa, 140.5 team points; 2nd, Minnesota, 116.5; 3rd, Illinois, 105.5; 4th, Penn State, 89.5; 5th, Michigan, 59.5; 6th, Ohio State, 56.0; 7th, Wisconsin, 55.0; 8th, Michigan State, 48.5; 9th, Indiana, 43.0; 10th, Purdue, 39.5; 11th, Northwestern, 39.0.

Other wrestlers winning individual Big Ten Championships were: Eric Jetton of Wisconsin at 126 pounds; Mark Ironside, Iowa, 134; Roger Chandler, Indiana, 142; Lincoln McIlravy, Iowa, 150; Ernest Benion, Illinois, 158; Kevin Wilmot, Wisconsin, 167; Mitch Clark, ohio State, 177; Tim Hartung, Minnesota, 190; and Kerry McCoy, Penn State, HWT. Minnesota Head Coach J Robinson was named Coach of the Year by his peers, while Iowa's Mark Ironside walked away with both Outstanding Wrestler of the Championships and Big Ten Wrestler of the Year honors, and Penn State's Jeremy Hunter earned Freshman of the Year accolades. In addition to the individual champions, the Big Ten qualified 59 other wrestlers for the NCAA Championships, plus three alternates.

NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP NOTES: With his second straight Big Ten championship, Morgan became the first Spartan to win back-to-back championships since Tom Milkovich won four straight titles at 134/142 pounds from 1970-73. Tom's brother Pat won three titles, but each one was separated by a year (1972 74-76)...Morgan enters the NCAA Tournament with a team-best 36-4 record, including a perfect 20-0 mark in the Big Ten. His career record now stands at 80-7, good for 16th on the al-time MSU list, while his .919 winning percentage ranks sixth...Picklo's season mark now stands at 34-7, 16-2 in the Big Ten, and Harvey check in at 33-6, 13-3 in the conference, including a team-high 14 pins.

QUOTING COACH MINKEL:
On the Big Ten Tournament: "We had an up-and-down tournament last weekend. Obviously our trio of All-Americans had a great tournament all the way around, but our younger wrestlers struggled and that was a bit disappointing.

On Morgan, Harvey, and Picklo: "All three have a legitimate chance to win a National Championship. In order to do that, they have to wrestle to the best of their ability, and get a few breaks along the way. But I think all three of them are certainly as good as anyone in the country.

RANKINGS: The latest Amateur Wrestling News rankings are available on the Internet at http://www.intermatwrestle.com. Michigan State is No. 16 in the most current (Feb. 26) team poll, while on the individual side Morgan is No. 3 at 118, Harvey No.3 at 177, and Picklo No. 4 at 190. In the Wrestling Institute Newsmagazine rankings, Morgan is No. 1, Harvey No. 2, and Picklo No. 3.

FAX-ON-DEMAND: Results from last weekend's Big Ten Championships are available via the University of Minnesota's Fax-On-Demand. Dial (770) 399-3066 from the handset of your fax machine, then enter 282 as the passcode (Big Ten Conference). The cell numbers is 1175.