Feb. 28, 2011
PARK RIDGE, Ill. - The Big Ten Conference has announced the preliminary seeds for the 2011 Big Ten Wrestling Championships, which are set to take place from March 5-6 at Welsh-Ryan Arena on the campus of Northwestern University. The pre-seeds, which rank the top eight wrestlers in each of the 10 weight classes, are decided based on a vote by the conference coaches. Michigan State has five wrestlers who earned pre-seeds.
Ian Hinton is the highest-seeded Spartan, coming in at fourth in the 184-pound weight class. Hinton, who has qualified for the NCAAs the past two seasons at 174 pounds, moved up a weight class to 184 this season as he seeks his third straight appearance at nationals. Hinton was an at-large qualifier in 2009 and took sixth place at last year's Big Ten Championships to qualify in 2010. He was second on the team this season with 44 dual meets points (13-4 dual record) and won seven of his last nine dual meet matches. Hinton has victories this season over Purdue's A.J. Kissel (currently ranked 12th) and Binghamton's Nathan Schiedel (currently ranked 16th).
Osterman, who is ranked 20th at 149 pounds, leads the way for MSU with his 22 wins on the season. Osterman also led the Spartans with a 15-3 record in dual meets and compiled a team-best 53 dual meet points. The sophomore from Carson City, Mich., went 1-2 at the Big Ten Championships at 141 pounds last year as a freshman and will be looking for his first bid to the NCAA Championships.
McMurray, a true freshman, finished the dual season strong, claiming wins over No. 20 Brand Zeerip of Michigan and Wisconsin's Shawn Perry on the last weekend of the regular season. The Portage, Ind., native is 14-10 overall and 5-5 in duals this season after entering the lineup Jan. 14 with a win against West Virginia's Ryan Goodman, 5-2.
Rizqallah produced a 7-3 dual record as the starter at heavyweight in the second half of the season. Overall, Rizqallah is 17-10 and placed fourth at the Nittany Lion Open Dec. 5. He upset then-No. 5 Cameron Wade of Penn State 8-2 on Feb. 4; Wade earned the top seed overall at heavyweight for the Big Ten Championships. Rizqallah made an immediate impact in the lineup as his pin in the last match of the West Virginia dual secured the 21-18 comeback win for the Spartans on Jan. 14. Wrestling against his former team, Rizqallah, an Illinois transfer, beat the Fighting Illini's Pat Walker in the Jan. 30 dual to help propel the Spartans to a 21-15 victory.
In one of the toughest weight classes in the Big Ten at 174 pounds, junior Curran Jacobs earned a No. 8 seed. Jacobs is tied with Osterman for the team lead with 22 wins and went 11-6 in dual meets. Seven wrestlers at 174 enter Big Tens ranked in the top 20. In the first Big Ten dual of the season, Jacobs defeated Iowa's Ethen Lofthouse, who is currently ranked 14th in the nation.
The Big Ten Championships are the most prestigious conference championships in the nation, year in and year out. Eight teams from the Big Ten are currently ranked in the Top 25 of the NWCA/USA Today Coaches' Poll, including three in the top five (No. 2 Iowa, No. 4 Penn State, No. 5 Minnesota). The conference will send 64 qualifiers to the NCAA Championships March 17-19 in Philadelphia, 19 more than any other conference (a total of 282 wrestlers qualify for the NCAA Championships).
The RPI strength of each weight class determines the amount of qualifiers from each conference. 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).