March 3, 2012
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.
"This is just an incredibly tough tournament - this is my 21st year at the tournament, and I don't think it has been any tougher," head coach Tom Minkel said. "Part of it is the addition of Nebraska to the conference. But on top of that we have a lot of really good teams and a lot of good wrestlers. It really has been an extraordinary wrestling event."
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.
"Anthony is having a very good tournament, he has wrestled hard," Minkel said. "Even in his match with Welch from Northwestern, it was a very close match and very hard fought. Anthony is really wrestling at the top of his game right now."
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.
"David came in unseeded in this tournament and got a huge win over the No. 4 seed," Minkel said. "It was a huge win for him, he is having a really good tournament. David has worked so hard. He moved up a weight class, he was our 157-pounder. I don't think I can be any more thrilled for him advancing to the NCAAs. He's worked so hard, he's committed, he's such a team player, for him to advance is a credit to him and his hard work."
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.
"Whenever he wrestles he gives you everything he has and he is exciting to watch," Minkel said of Jacobs. "He just leaves it all out there. For him to advance again to NCAAs, a second time, is really nice. I'm proud of him and looking forward to him wrestling tomorrow and in NCAAs."
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.
"Ian had an extremely tough match with Sheridan from Indiana," Minkel said. "In overtime it was a dramatic finish. He got a reversal in the final overtime period to win the match. I was really pleased for him. It really is important for him to advance to the NCAAs in his senior year, I'm thrilled that it happened."
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.
"This is Steve's first Big Ten Championships," Minkel said. "He's having a great tournament and has wrestled very hard. I think he is doing a marvelous job, particularly for his first time at the Big Ten's. That says a lot about him and his teammates as well."
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.
"It is very much a winnable match," Minkel said. "There is a lot at stake for both wrestlers, one guy is going to go and one will stay home. He has to go out there relaxed and give everything he has. If he does that, the reward is pretty significant."
As a team, the Spartans are tied for 10th place with 35.5 points. Minnesota is currently in first place with 117 points.
NOTES ON NCAA QUALIFIERS:
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.