Minnesota grabs early lead with Penn State and Iowa close behind at Big Tens

By Craig Sesker USA Wrestling | March 08, 2014, 2:54 p.m. (ET)

Penn State's Zain Retherford looks to turn Wisconsin's Jesse Thielke in their 141-pound quarterfinal on Saturday. Mike Smith photo.

MADISON, Wis. – It was a wild and wacky end to the first session at the 100th Big Ten Wrestling Championships.

As expected, top-ranked Penn State, No. 2 Minnesota and No. 4 Iowa are locked in a close battle after the first session Saturday at the University of Wisconsin’s Kohl Center. 

Minnesota, bolstered by two-time NCAA champion Tony Nelson’s 2-0 quarterfinal win over Iowa’s Bobby Telford, grabbed the lead with 77 points. The Golden Gophers have advanced nine wrestlers to the semifinals. Nelson is also seeking his third Big Ten title.

Penn State, the three-time returning Big Ten and NCAA team champion, is second with 70 points and seven in the semis. The Nittany Lions received a huge boost when No. 8 seed Jon Gingrich knocked off No. 1 Adam Coon of Michigan in overtime in the quarterfinals at heavyweight.

Iowa is a close third with 68 points and seven in the semifinals. The Hawkeyes earned a key head-to-head win over Penn State in the 157 quarters when returning national champion Derek St. John of Iowa beat All-American Dylan Alton of Penn State 4-1. 

The semifinals are set for Saturday at 5 p.m. Central Time. The finals will be televised live on the Big Ten Network on Sunday at 1 p.m.

The Big Ten has secured 74 automatic qualifying spots for the NCAA Championships, set for March 20-22 in Oklahoma City. An additional 40 at-large spots from all conferences for the NCAA tournament will be awarded on Wednesday.

The Big Ten has earned seven automatic qualifying spots at 125, eight at 133, six at 141, six at 149, eight at 157, eight at 165, seven at 174, seven at 184, eight at 197 and nine at 285. 

Three-time Big Ten champions David Taylor (165) and Ed Ruth (184) of Penn State rolled into the semifinal round. Taylor and Ruth are looking to join the elite club of four-time Big Ten champions. Just 11 wrestlers have earned four Big Ten titles.

Ohio State junior Logan Stieber, a two-time NCAA and two-time Big Ten champion, cruised into the semifinal round at 141.

TEAM SCORING

Minnesota 77, Penn State 70, Iowa 68, Nebraska 32, Michigan 29, Wisconsin 26, Ohio State 23.5, Illinois 21.5, Northwestern 17, Purdue 13, Indiana 11, Michigan State 4.

SEMIFINAL MATCHUPS

125 Pounds

Nico Megaludis (Penn State) vs. Ryan Taylor (Wisconsin)

Cory Clark (Iowa) vs. Jesse Delgado (Illinois)

133 Pounds

Tony Ramos (Iowa) vs. Cashe Quiroga (Purdue)

Tyler Graff (Wisconsin) vs. David Thorn (Minnesota) 

141 Pounds

Zain Retherford (Penn State) vs. Stephen Dutton (Michigan)

Logan Stieber (Ohio State) vs. Chris Dardanes (Minnesota)

149 Pounds

Jake Sueflohn (Nebraska) vs. Eric Grajales (Michigan)

Nick Dardanes (Minnesota) vs. Jason Tsirtsis (Northwestern) 

157 Pounds

Isaac Jordan (Wisconsin) vs. Derek St. John (Iowa)

James Green (Nebraska) vs. Dylan Ness (Minnesota)

165 Pounds

David Taylor (Penn State) vs. Jackson Morse (Illinois)

Nick Moore (Iowa) vs. Danny Zilverberg (Minnesota) 

174 Pounds

Robert Kokesh (Nebraska) vs. Logan Storley (Minnesota)

Matt Brown (Penn State) vs. Mike Evans (Iowa)

184 Pounds

Ed Ruth (Penn State) vs. Domenic Abounader (Michigan)

Kevin Steinhaus (Minnesota) vs. Ethen Lofthouse (Iowa) 

197 Pounds

Morgan McIntosh (Penn State) vs. Nathan Burak (Iowa)

Scott Schiller (Minnesota) vs. Nick Heflin (Ohio State)

285 Pounds

Tony Nelson (Minnesota) vs. Jon Gingrich (Penn State)

Michael McMullen (Northwestern) vs. Adam Chalfant (Indiana)

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