Upset by Troy Tirapelle provides early boost for Illinois

By Craig Sesker | March 04, 2006, 1:32 p.m. (ET)
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Unseeded freshman Troy Tirapelle of Illinois provided the early headlines as the Big Ten Conference wrestling championships kicked off Saturday at Indiana University's Assembly Hall.

Tirapelle stunned defending Big Ten champion and No. 3 seed Eric Tannenbaum of Michigan in the first round at 149 pounds. Tirapelle, younger brother of 157-pound top seed Alex Tirapelle, pulled out a 6-4 double-overtime win over Tannenbaum.

Tirapelle followed by rallying for a 6-5 win over No. 6 Tyler Turner of Wisconsin in the quarterfinals. Next up for Tirapelle is No. 2 Ty Eustice of Iowa in Saturday night's semifinal round.

Tirapelle's wins propelled ninth-ranked Illinois to the early lead with 62 points. The defending tournament champion Fighting Illini have seven wrestlers in the semifinals.

Top-ranked Minnesota is second with 57.5 points and six in the semifinals. No. 11 Iowa is next with 51 points and five in the semis followed by No. 8 Penn State (46 points, four in the semis), No. 2 Michigan (39, four) and No. 13 Northwestern (39, four).

The semifinals were set for 6 p.m. Saturday with the finals set for 2 p.m. Sunday.

The top seven qualifiers in each weight class, plus two wild cards overall, qualify for the NCAA Championhips March 16-18 in Oklahoma City.