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    Northwestern Hosts 50th Ken Kraft Midlands Championships

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    Northwestern sophomore Lee Munster looks to defend his Midlands title at 174 lbs.

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM
    Northwestern sophomore Lee Munster looks to defend his Midlands title at 174 lbs.
    NUSPORTSDOTCOM

    Dec. 23, 2012

    50th Ken Kraft Midlands Championships
    Saturday, Dec. 29-Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012
    Welsh-Ryan Arena (Evanston, Ill.)
    TV: Big Ten Network (Sunday’s finals, live)
    Audio: Takedown Radio / Amateur Wrestling News
    Twitter: @NU_Wrestle / @NU_SportsLIVE
    Hashtag: #Midlands50
    50th Ken Kraft Midlands Championships Website

    Midlands Commercial

    2012 Midlands Brackets Get Acrobat Reader

    Schedule:

    Saturday, Dec. 29
    9:30 a.m. - Session I
    7 p.m. - Session II
     
    Sunday, Dec. 30
    Noon - Session III - Semifinals, Consolation, 7th place matches
    6:30 p.m. - Parade of Champions
    7 p.m. - Session IV - 1st, 3rd, 5th place matches

    Tickets available by calling 888-GO-PURPLE

    THE WEEKEND
    No. 15 Northwestern welcomes more than 30 Division I wrestling teams, along with a number of Division II and III teams and post-graduate competitors, to Welsh-Ryan Arena for the historic 50th Ken Kraft Midlands Championships. Competition begins at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 29, resumes with Session II at 7 p.m. on Dec. 29 and then wraps up on Sunday, Dec. 30. The second day of competition begins at noon with Session III, which includes semifinal and consolation rounds, along with seventh-place matches. Be sure to return to Welsh-Ryan Arena around 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 30 for the Parade of Champions and then first, third and fifth-place bouts begin at 7 p.m. CT.
     
    Those who are unable to attend Midlands can watch Sunday’s finals LIVE on the Big Ten Network at 7 p.m. CT. Be sure to follow @NU_Wrestle (general tournament updates), @NU_SportsLIVE (updates for Northwestern wrestlers and Sunday's finals) and the #Midlands50 hashtag on Twitter for updates throughout the weekend. Updated brackets also will be posted on NUsports.com.
     
    SPECIAL EVENTS PLANNED FOR THE 50TH
    With this year being the 50th anniversary of Midlands, there are a number of special events in store for fans attending the event at Welsh-Ryan Arena. A number of the original Midlands Champions from the first tournament in 1963 are expected to be in attendance. This group will be recognized during the Parade of Champions on Sunday.
     
    Three-time Midlands champion and two-time Northwestern NCAA Champion Jake Herbert also returns to Evanston and he will sign autographs during Sunday’s Session III.
     
    READING MATERIAL
    Here are a few articles featuring the 50th Ken Kraft Midlands Championships:
    Chicago Tribune: Midlands story a well-Krafted tale
    NCAA.com: Holiday Havoc: Midlands leads growing roster of year-end tournaments
    NCAA.com Photo Essay: A half-century of excellence

    TOURNAMENT CONTENDERS

    The Midlands Tournament Committee released the Tournament Contenders list for this year’s event. Eight Northwestern wrestlers made the cut, including defending Midlands Champion, senior Jason Welch, who is tabbed No. 1 at 157 lbs. Other Northwestern wrestlers listed include freshman Dominick Malone (No. 10, 125), senior Levi Mele (No. 9, 133), Jason Tsirtsis (competing unattached, No. 9, 141), Pierce Harger (No. 6, 165), defending Midlands champion Lee Munster (No. 4, 174), Alex Polizzi (No. 11, 197) and Mike McMullan (No. 3, 285).
     
    A complete list of Tournament Contenders can be found here.

    Final Midlands seeds are available here. Official brackets will be released following weigh-ins on Saturday morning.
     
    MIDLANDS BY THE NUMBERS
    With this year being the 50th, there are a few significant numbers to take note of:
    • 334 – Number of different Midlands champions in the last 49 years.
    • 11 – Number of teams who have captured the Midlands team title.
    • 9,000+ – Number of wrestlers who have competed at Midlands the last 49 years.
    • Six – Number of Midlands competitors that have achieved Grand Slam status, meaning they have won a Midlands title, NCAA title, Olympic gold medal and World title. That group of six includes Dan Gable, Bruce Baumgartner, Dave Schultz, Kenny Monday, Tom Brands and Jordan Burroughs.
    • 50 – Number of years former Northwestern head coach and tournament founder Ken Kraft has been involved with the Midlands. He has attended every tournament, except for one--the 1995 Midlands Championships. Kraft, who was a Northwestern administrator at the time, missed the 1995 edition because the NU football team was in the Rose Bowl that year.
     
    For more historical information, check out the Midlands Record Book (PDF).
     
    STRONG FIELD FOR THE 50TH
    Midlands annually features some of the top programs in the country and the 2012 edition is no different. Of the 32 Division I teams competing this year, 14 of them placed in the top-25 at the 2012 NCAA Championships and 15 are currently ranked in the Dec. 18 USA Today/NWCA/AWN Division I Coaches Poll. The ranked teams in this year’s field include the following: No. 6 Illinois, No. 9 Central Michigan, No. 10 Oregon State, No. 11 Virginia Tech, No. 12 Michigan, No. 13 Pittsburgh, No. 14 Oklahoma, No. 15 Northwestern, No. 17 Nebraska, No. 18 Edinboro (tie), No. 18 Maryland (tie), No. 21 Purdue, No. 22 Penn, No. 23 Wisconsin and No. 25 Lehigh.
     
    According to the latest Amateur Wrestling News rankings, there are 92 ranked wrestlers competing at the 50th Ken Kraft Midlands Championships. Here is the breakdown by weight class:
     
    125: 9 (No. 4, 5, 7, 9, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18)
    133: 10 (No. 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 16, 17, 19)
    141: 10 (No. 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 15, 16, 17)
    149: 8 (No. 1, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14)
    157: 9 (No. 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 14, 17, 18, 20)
    165: 10 (No. 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, 20)
    174: 9 (No. 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 17, 18, 19)
    184: 10 (No. 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11, 14, 15, 18, 19)
    197: 9 (No. 1, 2, 5, 6, 9, 12, 13, 15, 18)
    Hwt.: 8 (No. 2, 6, 7, 9, 10, 13, 17, 19)
     
    Also included in this year’s field are a number post-graduates, as former All-Americans Montell Marion (Iowa), Daniel Dennis (Iowa), Hudson Taylor (Maryland) and Bekzod Abdurakhmonov (Clarion) are scheduled to compete.
     
    NEARING 100
    Northwestern senior Jason Welch is close to reaching a significant milestone. The two-time All-American enters Midlands with 93 career wins, seven away from career victory No. 100. Welch is undefeated on the 2012-13 season, bringing an 11-0 record into Midlands.
     
    LAST YEAR AT MIDLANDS…
    Northwestern had its best finish in the 49-year history of Midlands at last year’s tournament, finishing second. Two Wildcats earned Midlands titles as Jason Welch won the 157 lbs. weight class and Lee Munster captured the 174 lbs. crown. Northwestern was the only team to crown two champions during the 2011 tournament. In total, five Wildcats placed, including Levi Mele (fourth, 125), Mike McMullan (fourth, heavyweight) and John Schoen (eighth, 197), helping NU score 105.5 team points. Iowa won the 43-team tournament.

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