Five days prior to the Big Ten Championships in East Lansing, Mich., the Big Ten Conference office has released its pre-seeds for the March 3-4 tournament. Seven Gophers will be seeded for the tournament, including six that would automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships in Cleveland, Ohio later in March.
Sophomore Mitch McKee locked down Minnesota’s highest seed at No. 3 in the 133-pound division. McKee has two wins against the top eight seeds and has posted a 15-4 record this year. McKee will look to better his sixth-place finish in 2017.
Minnesota’s highest returning finisher at the 2017 Big Ten Championships is 2017 NCAA Finalist, Ethan Lizak, who will be the No. 5 seed in this year’s 125-pound bracket. Lizak finished third a year ago, and this season owns a 22-4 record, including four wins over seeded opponents.
The most common seed for the Gophers in East Lansing is the No. 6 seed, which is held by both Tommy Thorn and Nick Wanzek. The No. 6 seed matches both Wanzek and Thorn’s finish in the 2017 Big Ten Championships. Thorn, a 2017 All-American, will look to get back to where he was in 2016 when he finished in fourth.
Minnesota’s next highest seed is Jake Short in the 157-pound bracket holding a No. 7 seed. Short finished fifth last year’s conference tournament, and looks to build on that in this year’s competition.
Rylee Streifel brings in the No. 8 seed in the heavyweight bracket. Streifel has been doing some of his best wrestling at the end of the season and will look to creep into the top-seven in order to automatically qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
The Gophers final seeded wrestler is a newcomer to the Big Ten Championships. Steve Bleise owns the No. 9 seed for the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Bleise was a Round of 12 finisher in the 2017 NCAA Championships and has two wins over the top eight seeded opponents.
At 184-pounds, the Gophers will bring an unseeded entrant. Brandon Krone does have a win over the No. 8 seed Mitch Bowman of Iowa, and will look to make some noise as the top eight in the 184-division will become automatic qualifiers for the NCAA Tournament.
Chris Pfarr and Dylan Anderson are also unseeded as they enter the Big Ten Championships. Pfarr will make his second appearance, and look to return to the NCAA Championships as he did last season after finishing ninth in the bracket. Anderson, a redshirt freshman, will make his Big Ten Championships debut and will need to finish in the top six to automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships in March.
The Big Ten Championships get started from the Breslin Center near the campus of Michigan State University on March 3 at 9:00 (CT) with doors opening at 7:30 (CT).