Gophers’ Seeds and Brackets Unveiled for NCAA Championships

MINNEAPOLIS—Seeding and brackets were announced Wednesday night for the 2024 NCAA Championships, which will take place March 21-23 at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Minnesota is one of seven programs in the country to have a representative at all ten weight classes this season. It’s the fifth time in program history the Gophers have accomplished the feat and the first since 2013. They also did it in 2005, 2002 and 2001.

Sixth-year senior Patrick McKee has earned the No. 9 seed at 125 pounds and will face No. 24 Kysen Terukina of Iowa State in the first matchup between the pair. It’s the fifth time that McKee has qualified for NCAAs, and he’s a two-time All-American. McKee is coming off an appearance a runner-up finish at the Big Ten Championships. With a 15-6 record on the season, he went 4-6 against the field at 125.

NCAA Division I National Championships
March 21-23, at Kansas City, Mo.
Trackwrestling | Pre-Allocations |WrestleStat | At-Large Selections/Qualifiers | Brackets

True freshman Tyler Wells makes his NCAA debut as the No. 20 seed at 133 pounds. He’ll open against Bucknell’s No. 13 seed Kurt Phipps in a rematch from a November dual when Wells upset then-No. 17 Phipps, 11-5. Wells earned an at-large bid after a 13-6 regular season and was 6-3 in duals, including a 5-2 mark in Big Ten action. He went 5-5 against the field this year, though one loss was a medical forfeit.

Like Wells, redshirt sophomore Vance VomBaur is also making his debut at the NCAA Championships. Seeded 27th at 141 pounds, VomBaur placed seventh at the Big Ten Championships. VomBaur recorded a 5-7 mark versus the field during the regular season and was 16-8 overall. He drew No. 6 Lachlan McNeil of North Carolina in a rematch from the Soldier Salute in late December that McNeil, then ranked fifth, won 7-4.

Fellow redshirt sophomore Drew Roberts is also making his first appearance at NCAAs. The No. 23 seed at 149 pounds, Roberts earned his spot with a ninth-place finish at Big Tens. Roberts has a 19-8 record entering the season, including a 6-7 tally against those at 149. In the first meeting between them, he’s paired up against No. 10 Chance Lamer of Cal Poly.

An All-American last year at 149 pounds, sixth-year senior Michael Blockhus bumped up to 157 pounds this year and has grabbed a No. 13 seed. He’ll take on No. 20 Max Brignola of Lehigh. Blockhus earned an at-large bid after injury defaulting out of the Big Ten Championships, as he spent most of the season near the top of the rankings. Making his fourth trip to NCAAs as a Gopher, he’s 15-3 on the season, including a 5-3 record against the field, though one of those losses was by injury default.

Redshirt sophomore Blaine Brenner joins the group of Minnesota first-timers at the NCAA Championships. Qualifying with an eighth-place finish at Big Tens, Brenner has garnered the No. 27 seed at 165 pounds. Brenner has competed in a team-high 31 matches this year, going 19-12, including a 5-9 record versus the 165 field. It’ll be a Big Ten showdown in the first round as he was paired up with Iowa’s No. 6 Mike Caliendo for the third time this year. Caliendo won by tech fall at the Soldier Salute and by decision in conference action in mid-January.

Senior Andrew Sparks is making his third career appearance at the NCAA Championships, though it’s his first at 174 pounds after competing at 165 pounds in his previous two trips in 2021 and 2023. Seeded 24th at 174, Sparks is 13-8 on the season and finished sixth at Big Tens. Against the rest of the field, Sparks is 2-7. He’s drawn No. 9 Carter Starocci of Penn State, a three-time NCAA champion. The two were supposed to meet at the Big Ten Championships this year, but Starocci had to injury default.

Coming off a Big Ten title at 184 pounds, senior Isaiah Salazar has claimed the No. 2 seed. It’s tied for the highest seed at the weight in Gopher history, along with head coach Brandon Eggum in 1999 and Roger Kish in 2006, both of whom finished as national runner-up. Salazar is an impressive 21-1 on the season and 7-1 against the rest of the 184-pound field. Salazar has won his last 15 matches and has outscored his opponents 143-17 during that time. In addition, he’s given up two points or fewer in 13 of the 15 matches. He’ll take on No. 31 Tony Negron of Arizona State in the first meeting between the pair.

Sixth-year senior Garrett Joles is making a return trip to NCAAs, but he’s at 197 pounds this year after competing as a heavyweight a year ago. Seeded 22nd, Joles placed fifth at Big Tens and is 22-8 on the year, leading the team in wins. He’s got a 5-8 mark against the rest of the qualifiers at 197 pounds. Joles will see a familiar foe in Maryland’s No. 11 Jaxon Smith. The two just met at the Big Ten Championships with Smith winning by major decision.

Redshirt sophomore Bennett Tabor is the fifth Gopher to be competing in his first NCAA Championships. Competing at heavyweight in every match this season for Minnesota, Tabor has gone 20-7 on the year, including a 1-2 mark at Big Tens. He’s gone 3-4 so far this season versus the other heavyweights in the field. He drew the No. 31 seed and will face second-seeded Yonger Bastida of Iowa State, the reigning Big 12 champion.

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