Team Title Up For Grabs

March 5, 2005

IOWA CITY, IA – Illinois is in the lead after the semifinals of the 2005 Big Ten Conference Wrestling Championships here Saturday evening at Carve-Hawkeye Arena on the campus of the University of Iowa. The Fighting Illini have only a slim point-advantage over the field, leaving the race for Big Ten team title wide-open entering Sunday’s final day of competition.

With 114.5 points, Illinois will be chased by Minnesota from second place with 95.5 points, Michigan from third with 95 points and Indiana and Iowa from fourth with 75 points. Rounding out the standings after day one is Wisconsin with 65 points, Michigan State with 58.5, Northwestern and Penn State with 56.5, Purdue with 33.5 and Ohio State with 26.5.

Looking at how the individual brackets set up for Sunday:

Both of the top seeds will square off in the 125-pound final after they each won close semifinal matches by decisions. Kyle Ott of Illinois won a 3-1 decision over Bobbe Lowe of Minnesota to advance to Sunday’s final. Ott will square off against Nick Simmons of Michigan State who defeated Joe Dubuque of Indiana by a 3-2 decision.

Another Fighting Illini is in the finals after Mark Jayne won a decision over Mario Galanakis of Iowa 4-3 at 133-pounds. Minnesota’s Mack Reiter had an easier time in his semifinal bout with Mark Moos of Michigan. Moos sustained an injury during the match but wrestled on, eventually dropping an 8-2 decision in favor of Reiter.

Michigan’s Josh Churella defeated Michael Simpson of Indiana in a 6-1 decision to reach the finals at 141-pounds. The top seeded Churella will wrestle against Andy Simmons of Michigan State. The sophomore won in a 15-6 major-decision over Ryan Lang of Northwestern.

Craig Henning of Wisconsin became the first wrestler not seeded first or second to reach the finals with his sudden-victory at 149-pounds. Henning took-out Ty Eustice of Iowa in the extra period for the 4-2 decision. The freshman will meet the top seeded Eric Tannenbaum in the finals. Another freshman, Tannenbaum defeated Darren McKnight of Michigan State by a 4-2 decision to continue on in the championship bracket.

The winner’s brackets returned to form at 157-pounds with both top seeded entries advancing to Sunday’s Big Ten title bout. Ryan Bertin punched his ticket with an 11-4 decision over Brandon Becker. The senior’s competitor in the finals will be Alex Tirapelle of Illinois. The junior won a 9-5 decision over the Hawkeye’s Joe Johnston to earn his way into the championship match.

A major decision by Ryan Churella of Michigan at 165-pounds means the finals on Sunday will feature two Churellas. Ryan joined his brother and teammate Josh in the championship round with his 16-4 major decision over Jake Donar of Wisconsin. The junior will face the Hawkeyes Mark Perry for the Big Ten title in the 165-pound division after Perry won his quarterfinal match by default over John DeCeault of Purdue.

Yet again the top seeds advanced to face off in Sunday’s finale. At 174-pounds the Fighting Illini’s Pete Friedl will face the Wildcat’s Jake Herbert for the conference crown. The first and second seeds in the weight class defeated the Hoosier’s Brady Richardson by a 6-2 decision and the Spartan’s R.J. Brundo in an 8-5 decision respectively.

Illinois’ fortune continued in the 184-pound bracket where Brian Glynn recorded a semifinal win. The senior defeated Ben Wissel of Purdue in a 3-1 decision to give his team more points to add to their already impressive total. Penn State’s Eric Bradley will be Glynn’s opponent after he disposed of Minnesota’s Roger Kish in a 3-2 decision.

A number three seed will be tracifeatured in the 197-pound bracket. Northwestern’s Matt Delguyd pulled down the minor-upset over second-seeded Nathan Moore of Purdue with a 9-7 extra period decision. J.D. Bergman of Ohio State will be Delguyd’s opponent in Sunday’s final after defeating Illinois’ Tyrone Byrd 2-1 by decision.

Excitement closed out the first day with Indiana’s Paul DeGain’s match versus Michigan’s Greg Wagner. In the bonus period DeGain pinned Wagner down and won the match with 7:27 gone. A third seed, DeGain will face top-seeded Cole Konrad of Minnesota. Konrad defeated Northwestern’s Dustin Fox by a 3-2 decision in the semifinals.

The final day of competition begins Sunday at noon central time with the continuation of the consolation brackets. The finals in all 10 weight classes will follow with the Big Ten Conference team title still up for grabs.