The NCAA released full brackets prior to next week’s NCAA Wrestling Championships and the Gophers, who have six wrestlers seeded within the top ten in their weight classes, now know who they will face next Thursday morning in Pittsburgh as well as their potential path to the NCAA Championship on Saturday night.
The top-seeded Gophers grappler is Gable Steveson, a 30-1 true freshman heavyweight. Steveson will take on 30-seed Colton McKiernan in the first round as the three-seed. Steveson’s only loss came in Sunday’s Big Ten Championship to two-seed Anthony Cassar.
The next highest seeded wrestler in the Maroon and Gold will be 125-pound Sean Russell with the six-seed taking on 27-seed Alonzo Allen of Tennessee-Chattanooga. Russell is 26-4 on the season with his only losses coming to top-four opponents. Russell took third place at the Big Ten Championships this past weekend.
Ethan Lizak also took third place this weekend, his coming via an upset of Iowa’s Austin DeSanto in the 133-pound weight class, and he’ll also be a six-seed. Lizak leads the team with ten technical falls this season and is already a two-time All-American in his career.
Lizak will face Rider’s Anthony Cefelo after the two team’s dual this season was canceled due to travel complications caused by weather.
Junior transfer Devin Skatzka also took home third at 174-pounds in his first conference tournament in a Gophers singlet. Skatzka will be the nine-seed taking on Lorenzo De La Riva of North Dakota State University in the first round.
Minnesota native Mitch McKee, the seven-seed, is 20-5 this season and he leads the Gophers’ starters with nine pins this season. The 141-pounder took fourth in the Big Ten this past weekend and will take on 26-seed Sam Krivus of the University of Virginia in the first round.
In his final season, 149-pound Tommy Thorn will be a 20-seed taking on 13-seed Anthony Artalona in the first round as he pursues a second All-American status. Thorn took fifth at the Big Ten championships this weekend and his finished his 18-10 season strong.
After finishing in sixth place at the Big Ten Championships, 157-pound Steve Bleise will be the 10-seed facing 23-seed Chase Straw of Iowa State.
The final Gopher to punch his ticket, 165-pound Carson Brolsma, will find himself taking on Lock Haven’s Chance
All eight Minnesota representatives automatically qualified at last weekend’s Big Ten Championships hosted at Williams Arena.
The tournament will last six sessions, beginning Thursday morning and running through the final round on Saturday night. The event is hosted at PPG Paint Arena, the home arena of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The NCAA Wrestling Championships will be available on the ESPN family of networks with the semifinals and championship round airing on the main ESPN channel.