Minnesota Eyes Big Ten Championships

The Gophers’ journey for conference crown begins Saturday at 10 a.m.

This weekend, the Minnesota wrestling team (16-2, 7-1 B1G) travels to Assembly Hall on the campus of the University of Illinois in Champaign, Ill. to participate in the 2013 Big Ten Wrestling Championships.

The Big Ten Conference has a history of being home to some of the most talented wrestlers in the nation. This year is no different making compeittion at this weekend’s tournament of the highest quality. The event will feature five of the nation’s No. 1 wrestlers and five No. 2 wrestlers, according to the NCAA Coaches Poll.

On Monday, March 4, the Big Ten Conference has announced the preliminary seeds for the 2013 Big Ten Wrestling Championship Tournament.

Five weight classes feature the top eight of the league’s top wrestlers, while the remaining five feature 11 or 12 due to the conference receiving more than eight NCAA qualifier allocations in each of those classes.

Minnesota is one of only four schools to boast a seeded wrestler in each of the 10 weight classes. Two individuals, Tony Nelson and Logan Storley received No. 1 nods, while four others, Nick Dardanes, Dylan Ness, Kevin Steinhaus, and Scott Schiller, were picked at No. 2.

For full seeding information, click here.

125 – David Thorn – # 7 Seed/#12 RPI/#19 NCAA Coaches
133 – Chris Dardanes – # 7 Seed/#5 RPI/#6 NCAA Coaches
141 – Nick Dardanes – # 2 Seed/#14 RPI/#7 NCAA Coaches
149 – Dylan Ness – # 2 Seed/#12 RPI/#19 NCAA Coaches
157 – Danny Zilverberg – # 8 Seed/#26 RPI/#23 NCAA Coaches
165 – Cody Yohn – # 5 Seed/#30 RPI/#15 NCAA Coaches
174 – Logan Storley – # 1 Seed/#3 RPI/#1 NCAA Coaches
184 – Kevin Steinhaus – # 2 Seed/#1 RPI/#5 NCAA Coaches
197 – Scott Schiller – # 2 Seed/#7 RPI/#9 NCAA Coaches
285 – Tony Nelson – # 1 Seed/#1 RPI/#1 NCAA Coaches

Minnesota finished second overall in the team standings at the 2012 Big Ten Wrestling Championships in West Lafayette, Ind. With 134 points, behind champion Penn State who won the team title for the second consecutive year, with 149 points.

Kevin Steinhaus and Tony Nelson each captured individual titles for the Maroon and Gold. Neither of them had lost match against a Big Ten opponent and earned First Team Big Ten honors.

Five of the top seeds are defending conference champions. In addition to Minnesota’s own Tony Nelson, Matt McDonough (125), Derek St. John (157), Logan Stieber (133), and David Taylor (165) return at the top of their respective bracket. In addition, Penn State’s Ed Ruth (184) won the conference tournament at 174 pounds last season.

Defending champions Kevin Steinhaus (184) and Mario Gonzalez (197) are also in the tournament field and were picked as No. 2 and No. 3 seeds, respectively.

The Big Ten Network will not be airing the first three sessions but will be broadcasting the finals live on Sunday, March 10. All other rounds will be streamed live through the Big Ten’s (and Minnesota’s) All-Access online video feed, which is a pay-per service.

Gophersports will be providing a live blog throughout the Big Ten competition this weekend. Visit Dual Day Live to follow along with the action.

Want your chance to see Minnesota Wrestling compete in the 2013 Big Ten Wrestling Championships? Visit the Illinois Ticket Office to reserve your seats today.

Prices are $40 for all-session tickets, $18 for sessions one and two and $22 for session three. Only general admission tickets will be available once the reserved seats are sold out.

For more information and to order your tickets, please go to fightingillini.com or call 1-866-ILLINI-1.

The NCAA announced automatic qualifier allocations for the 2013 NCAA Wrestling Championships last Thursday, awarding each qualifying tournament spots per weight class based on current year data. The Big Ten Conference received the most of any conference with 74 spots.

The Big Ten breakdown is as follows: seven for 125, seven for 133, six for 141, eight for 149, seven for 157, eight for 165, eight for 174, six for 184, eight for 197 and nine for heavyweight.

Wrestlers that place within the qualifier allocation for their weight class at the Big Ten championships receive an automatic bid for the NCAA championships.

For the second year in a row, the Golden Gopher wrestling team beat Oklahoma State to win the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Dual Championship. As the No. 3 seed in the tournament, Minnesota handled No. 7 Virginia Tech in the quarterfinals (28-8) and No. 2 Iowa in the semifinals (22-15) before meeting the No. 1 Cowboys in the championship dual.

Sophomore Logan Storley was named the Big Ten Wrestler of the Week in the final conference award of the 2012-13 competitive season.

The 174-pound, No. 1 wrestler was instrumental in Minnesota’s successful run through the 2013 NWCA/Cliff Keen National Dual Meet Championship, posting three dual wins over his opponents which included the nation’s second- and third-ranked wrestlers.

Dominating performances at the National Duals Championshipscemented two Gophers as the No. 1-ranked wrestlers among their respective weight classes in the final individual polls. Both Tony Nelson and Logan Storley swept the top spots of the Amateur Wrestling News, InterMat, and WIN Magazine publications. This is the fifth week in a row Storley has reigned over the 174-pound weight class, while Nelson returns to the position after eight weeks of being ranked No. 2.

Minnesota’s top four weight classes have proven a dominating force on the mat. Dubbed ‘Killers Row’, Logan Storley, Kevin Steinhaus, Scott Schiller, and Tony Nelson have combined for 68 dual wins and only one loss on the season. They also marked an unblemished 31-0 in Big Ten regular season action.

Returning Big Ten Champions Nelson and Steinhaus lead the way with 15-0 records, 8-0 in Big Ten. Schiller is also 8-0 in league play and has only lost one dual this season (14-1). Storley (12-0, 7-0) rounds out the numbers, having a perfect slate since returning from injury.

With a final Big Ten season record of 7-1, a .875 winning percentage, Minnesota tied with Penn State for a second-place finish in the conference standings.

Iowa captured its fifth Big Ten regular season title in the last six years when it defeated Nebraska 31-7 on Feb. 10. The perfect conference record marked the fifth time in six seasons the Hawkeyes finished the Big Ten regular season with an undefeated rate.

The Big Ten Championships also serves as the national qualifier for the conference teams. With a strong showing this weekend, the Golden Gophers will head to Des Moines, Iowa, for the 2013 NCAA Wrestling Championships on March 21-23 in the Wells Fargo Arena.