Six Gophers Automatically Qualify for NCAAs

East Lansing, Mich. — The University of Minnesota wrapped up the final day at the 2018 Big Ten Championships at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich. The Gophers automatically qualified six wrestlers at the two-day tournament, including Minnesota’s highest finisher Ethan Lizak who finished as the runner-up in the 125-pound bracket.

The six automatic qualifiers are Lizak, Mitch McKee, Steve Bleise, Jake Short, Nick Wanzek and Brandon Krone. Any other representatives for the Gophers will have to be selected by the NCAA for an at-large spot in the 2018 NCAA Championships held in Cleveland, Ohio.

Three Gophers finished higher than they were originally seeded coming into the Championships. Lizak’s second place finish is his best in his career at the Big Ten Championships, bettering his 3rd place finish in 2017. Bleise finished seventh after being seeded ninth and Brandon Krone finished sixth after being seeded eighth.

minnlogoLizak was the lone finalist for the Golden Gophers. He had a tough matchup with now four-time Big Ten Champion Nathan Tomasello of Ohio State. Lizak fell behind early, but then scored two on a near fall to hold a lead. Lizak would hold that lead for a bit, but Tomasello eventually took the win with takedowns in the third period.

The Gophers had second best finisher was Mitch McKee, who wrestled in the 133-pound bracket. McKee dropped his final match and settled for fourth place.

Brandon Krone finished in sixth place for the Golden Gophers, securing his first appearance in the NCAA Championships. He picked up three wins during the tournament, with one by major decision over Max Lyon of Purdue and then a second defeat of Mitch Bowman from Iowa.

Minnesota had four wrestlers in seventh place matches during the third session of the Big Ten Championships. All three wrestlers eventually would wrestle all at the same time on the three mats in the Breslin Center. Jake Short would end his match first of the three with a pin at 2:30 against John Van Brill of Rutgers. Short earned two four-point near falls, and on the second one, Short stuck the pin.

Next to complete his match during the trifecta of seventh place bouts was Steve Bleise. The Big Ten Championships first timer wrapped up his time on a positive note with a pin at 4:21 against Eleazar Deluca of Rutgers, who was the No. 6 seed. Bleise, the No. 9 seed, would secure two throws during the match, and like Short, the second one stuck Deluca earning him his first pin of the tournament.

Nick Wanzek had to settle for eighth place in the loaded 165-pound bracket with his loss in the seventh-place match. Wanzek faced Isaiah White of Nebraska for the second time this season, and this time White got the better of Wanzek.

The fourth Maroon and Gold representative in the seventh-place bouts was heavyweight Rylee Streifel. in his first appearance in the Big Ten Championships, Streifel finished in the order he was seeded after his loss in the seventh-place match. Streifel will need to be selected for an at-large bid by the NCAA in order to compete at the 2018 NCAA Championships due to only seven automatic qualifiers in the weight class.

The Gophers other wrestlers that will look for at-large selections are Tommy Thorn, Chris Pfarr, and Dylan Anderson. The selection show for the wrestlers is held on Monday, March 5, 2018.

Stick to for NCAA announcements and upcoming information for the 2018 NCAA Championships in two weeks. You can follow the Gophers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to follow all the latest updates this postseason.

Check back later on to get thoughts from head coach Brandon Eggum and official final brackets of the 2018 Big Ten Championships.

2018 Big Ten Wrestling Championships Results


125: Ethan Lizak – NCAA QUALIFIER – (2-1, 2nd Place)
Rnd 1: Ethan Lizak dec Johnny Jimenez (Wisconsin), 3-1
Quarters: Ethan Lizak dec Sebastian Rivera (Northwestern), 3-2
Semis: Ethan Lizak med Nick Suriano (Rutgers)
Finals: Nathan Tomasello (Ohio State) dec Ethan Lizak, 10-7

133: Mitch McKee – NCAA QUALIFIER – (3-2, 4th Place)
Rnd 1: Mitch McKee fall (1:55) Colin Valdiviez (Northwestern)
Quarters: Mitch McKee dec Corey Keener (Penn State), 9-4
Semis: Luke Pletcher (Ohio State) dec (SV-1) Mitch McKee, 6-4
Cons Semis: Mitch McKee dec Scott Delvecchio (Rutgers), 8-5
3rd Place: Dylan Duncan (Illinois) dec Mitch McKee, 8-3

141: Tommy Thorn (0-2, DNP)
Rnd 1: Bye
Quarters: Mike Carr (Illinois) dec Tommy Thorn, 8-6
Cons Rnd 2: Ryan Diehl (Maryland) maj dec Tommy Thorn, 9-1
9th Place Quarterfinals: Bye
9th Place Semis: Mike Van Brill (Rutgers) med Tommy Thorn

149: Steve Bleise – NCAA QUALIFIER – (3-2, 7th Place)
Rnd 1: Steve Bleise dec Malik Amine (Michigan), 6-2
Quarters: Zain Retherford (Penn State) maj dec Steve Bleise, 14-1
Cons Rnd 2: Steve Bleise dec Cole Martin (Wisconsin), 3-1
Cons Quarters: Colton McCrystal (Nebraska) dec Steve Bleise, 8-5
7th Place: Steve Bleise fall (4:21) Eleazar Deluca (Rutgers)

157: Jake Short – NCAA QUALIFIER – (3-2, 7th Place)
Rnd 1: Jake Short dec Kyle Langenderfer, 4-0
Quarters: Jason Nolf (Penn State) maj dec Jake Short, 15-2
Cons Rnd 2: Jake Short fall (5:33) Griffin Parriott (Purdue)
Cons Quarters: Crone (Wisconsin) dec Jake Short, 8-4
7th Place: Jake Short fall (2:30) John Van Brill (Rutgers)

165: Nick Wanzek – NCAA QUALIFIER – (2-3, 8th Place)
Rnd 1: Nick Wanzek dec Bryce Martin (Indiana), 5-2
Quarters: Vincenzo Joseph (Penn State) maj dec Nick Wanzek, 18-10
Cons Rnd 2: Nick Wanzek maj dec Brendan Burnham (Maryland), 10-1
Cons Quarters: Alex Marinelli (Iowa) dec Nick Wanzek, 11-4
7th Place: Isaiah White (Nebraska) dec Nick Wanzek, 5-1

174: Chris Pfarr (0-2, DNP)
Rnd 1: Ryan Christensen (Wisconsin) dec Chris Pfarr, 4-0
Cons Rnd 1: Logan Ritchie (Michigan State) med Chris Pfarr

184: Brandon Krone – NCAA QUALIFIER – (3-3, 6th Place)
Rnd 1: Brandon Krone dec Mitch Sliga (Northwestern), 6-5
Quarters: Bo Nickal (Penn State) fall (1:25) Brandon Krone
Cons Rnd 2: Brandon Krone maj dec Max Lyon (Purdue), 15-5
Cons Quarters: Brandon Krone dec Mitch Bowman (Iowa), 11-7
Cons Semis: Dom Abounader (Michigan) maj dec Brandon Krone, 8-0
5th Place: Emery Parker (Illinois) dec Brandon Krone, 6-0

197: Dylan Anderson (0-2, DNP)
Rnd 1: Kevin Beazley (Michigan) dec Dylan Anderson, 9-4
Cons Rnd 1: David-Brian Whisler (Maryland) dec Dylan Anderson, 3-1

HWT: Rylee Streifel (2-3, 8th Place)
Rnd 1: Rylee Streifel dec Christian Rebottaro (Michigan State), 3-0
Quarters: Adam Coon (Michigan) maj dec Rylee Streifel, 12-2
Cons Rnd 2: Rylee Streifel dec Fletcher Miller (Indiana), 7-2
Cons Quarters: Youssif Hemida (Maryland) dec Rylee Streifel, 8-3
7th Place: Shawn Streck (Purdue) dec Rylee Streifel, 10-3

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