Feb. 29, 2012
2012 Big Ten Wrestling Championships
Sat., March 3-Sun. March 4 • All Day
Site: Mackey Arena (West Lafayette, Ind.)
Webstream: Sessions I-III on Big Ten Digital Network on Wildcats All-Access
TV: Big Ten Network - Session IV LIVE at 2 p.m. CT (Tim Johnson, Jim Gibbons, Shane Sparks)
Twitter Updates: @NU_SportsLIVE / #B1GWrestle
B1G Championships Website: PurdueSports.com
Northwestern 2012 Big Ten Championships Notes
VIDEO: Northwestern News Network Preview of 2012 Big Ten Wrestling Championships
WNUR Podcast with Drew Pariano - Feb. 29
EVANSTON, Ill. - After a successful 2011-12 regular season, Northwestern looks to make noise in the postseason, beginning this weekend at the 2012 Big Ten Championships. Competition runs Saturday, March 3 through Sunday, March 4 inside Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Ind. With the addition of Nebraska to the Big Ten, this year's tournament features 12 teams for the first time and a record 74 conference wrestlers will receive automatic qualifications for the 2012 NCAA Championships in St. Louis, Mo.
Fans unable to make it to West Lafayette, Ind., this weekend can watch the 'Cats from the comfort of their homes. Sessions I-III will air live on the Big Ten Digital Network, airing on Wildcats All-Access. The Big Ten Network will then broadcast Sunday's Session IV LIVE at 2 p.m. CT.
The complete schedule for the 2012 Big Ten Wrestling Championships is as follows:
Saturday, March 3
8 a.m. - Mackey Arena opens
9 a.m. - Start of Session I
4 p.m. - Start of Session II
Sunday, March 4
11 a.m. - Mackey Arena opens
Noon - Start of Session III
2 p.m. - Start of Session IV
*All times are Central time
Tickets are still available for the championships and fans can purchase tickets at PurdueSports.com or by calling 1-800-49SPORT.
*CP indicates NCAA coaches' poll ranking; RPI indicates RPI ranking
NU at 2011 Big Ten Championships
Northwestern hosted the 2011 edition of the Big Ten championships at Welsh-Ryan Arena. NU finished 7th with seven placing in the top-eight and five qualified for NCAA's. Jason Welch finished 3rd at 157 lbs., defeating Colton Salazar of Indiana in the third-place match with a 10-1 major decision. Kaleb Friedley took 6th at 141 lbs. after falling to Andrew Alton of Penn State in a close 6-4 decision. Levi Mele also had a tough loss in the seventh place match, loosing to David Thorn of Minnesota in a 6-4 decision and finishing 8th at 133 lbs. Northwestern finished the tournament with 62 points, placing ahead of Ohio State, Purdue, Indiana, and Michigan State.
NU History at Big Ten Championships
Northwestern has 37 individual Big Ten titles in program history. Those 37 titles were won by 29 different wrestlers, with six wrestlers winning multiple titles during their NU careers. Northwestern has not crowned a Big Ten champion since Jake Herbert won his third title during the 2009 season (two at 184, one at 174). As a team, Northwestern's best finish at the championships came during the 1989-90 season when the 'Cats placed third out of 10 teams.
Streaking into March
Northwestern closed the regular season on a five-dual winning streak, but a number of individuals have their own winning streaks heading into the Big Ten championships. Jason Welch has yet to lose a match this year, bringing a 21-match unbeaten streak into the weekend. Levi Mele is currently on a seven-match winning streak, Pierce Harger and Lee Munster are both unbeaten in their last five matches and Mike McMullan has won his last three bouts.
Feels Like the First Time
Five of the 10 NU wrestlers competing this weekend are participating in their first Big Ten championships. Northwestern had a relatively young team this year with four redshirt freshman and one true freshman starting. True freshman Jameson Oster (133) along with redshirt freshmen Colin Shober (141), Pierce Harger (165), Lee Munster (174) and Mike McMullan (Hwt) will get their first taste of postseason wrestling this weekend.
Redshirt seniors Robert Kellogg (184) and captain John Schoen (197) both have wrestled at prior Big Ten championships, but both are looking to end their NU careers on a high note as NCAA qualifiers for the first time.
The rest of the NU lineup includes one sophomore (Kaleb Friedley), one junior (Levi Mele) and one redshirt junior (Jason Welch), who are the three returning NU NCAA qualifiers.
March (Back) to the Arch
This weekend, Northwestern looks to qualify as many wrestlers as possible for the 2012 NCAA Wrestling Championships. After a two-year hiatus, this year's event returns to the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo. Last year's edition was in Philadelphia, Pa., while the 2010 championships were in Omaha, Neb. With the exception of the 2009-10 season, Northwestern has qualified at least four wrestlers for NCAA's in seven of the last eight seasons. The last time NCAA's were in St. Louis (2009), Northwestern had just four qualifiers, but finished 13th thanks to a second national title for Jake Herbert at 184 lbs. and All-America honors for Brandon Precin as he placed third at 125 lbs.
Five Wildcats Receive B1G Preseeds
Five Northwestern wrestlers received pre-seeds for the 2012 Big Ten Championships. After posting a perfect 21-0 record, including 8-0 mark against the Big Ten championships field, redshirt junior Jason Welch enters the championships as the top-seeded wrestler for the 157 lbs. weight class
Four others received pre-seeds, including two at No. 5. Junior Levi Mele is the No. 5 seed at 125 lbs. He has a win over fourth-seeded Jesse Delgado of Illinois and went 6-3 during the regular season against the 125 lbs. field.
Redshirt freshman Mike McMullan is competing in his first Big Ten championships and enters the tournament as the No. 5 pre-seed at 285 lbs. McMullan posted a 20-8 overall record this season and is 4-4 against his fellow heavyweight competitors.
Sophomore Kaleb Friedley finished sixth at 141 lbs. during last year's Big Ten championships and this year he is pre-seeded eighth at 149 lbs. Redshirt freshman Lee Munster received the final NU pre-seed and he enters the tournament at No. 9 for 174 lbs. Munster went 5-6 against the field this year, including a win in the Midlands title match over the No. 3 seed, Ethen Lofthouse of Iowa.
The pre-seeds, as voted on by the conference's coaches, rank the top eight wrestlers in seven weight classes, along with all 12 schools' starters in three weight classes due to the Big Ten receiving nine or more NCAA championships qualifier allocations in those classes. Each team enters the championships with a seeded wrestler in the 149-, 174- and 285-pound weight classes. Seeds are subject to change following the coaches' seeding meeting on the eve of the tournament.
This is college wrestling's fourth season under the new system for earning automatic bids to the NCAA championships in which the NCAA allocates each weight class in each conference a certain number of automatic bids. The Big Ten breakdown for automatic bids is as follows: six for 125, seven for 133, five for 141, nine for 149, six for 157, eight for 165, nine for 174, seven for 184, seven for 197 and 10 for heavyweight.
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