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|Hawkeyes take charge, place nine in semifinals to grab lead at Big Ten Championships|
By Craig Sesker USA Wrestling
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – The Iowa Hawkeyes have rebounded in a big way.
Fourth in its most recent competition at the National Duals, Iowa stormed out to a strong start to grab the early lead during the Big Ten Championships on Saturday at Assembly Hall.
The Hawkeyes, ranked fourth nationally, placed nine wrestlers in the semifinals and have the lead with 79 points. Iowa went 13-1 during the first session.
"I'm not sure where we're at, but I know we won some big matches," Iowa coach Tom Brands said. "We've got to keep it going and we've got to get tougher. We have big matches coming up and we need to solidify some things next round."
Top-ranked Penn State, winners of the last two Big Ten and NCAA titles, is in second place with 62 points and six in the semifinals.
Third-ranked Minnesota, winners of the National Duals, is in third place with 49 points and five in the semis. Sixth-ranked Ohio State is in fourth with 47.5 points and five in the semis.
The semifinals are set for 5 p.m. Saturday. The finals will be televised live on the Big Ten Network on Sunday at 1:30 p.m.
The Big Ten has secured 74 automatic qualifying spots for the NCAA Championships, set for March 21-23 in Des Moines, Iowa. An additional 40 at-large spots will be awarded from all conferences on Wednesday for the NCAA tournament.
Seven returning conference champions have reached the semis. They include two-time Big Ten champions Matt McDonough of Iowa (125 pounds), David Taylor of Penn State (165) and Ed Ruth of Penn State (184) along with 2012 league champions Logan Stieber of Ohio State (133), Derek St. John of Iowa (157), Kevin Steinhaus of Minnesota (184) and Tony Nelson of Minnesota (285).
McDonough is a two-time NCAA champion while Taylor, Stieber, Ruth and Nelson also struck NCAA gold in 2012. Taylor is a two-time Big Ten Wrestler of the Year and the reigning Hodge Trophy winner.
2011 Big Ten and NCAA champion Quentin Wright of Penn State reached the semifinals at 197.
Iowa freshman Nathan Burak upset returning champion Mario Gonzalez of Illinois in the 197 quarters.
Minnesota suffered a tough early loss when top seed Logan Storley of Minnesota dropped a 3-2 decision to No. 8 seed Dan Yates of Michigan at 174.
Ohio State’s Ian Paddock, the No. 8 seed who stepped in to replace All-American Cam Tessari, upset No. 1 seed Eric Grajales of Michigan 7-4 in the 149 quarterfinals.
Iowa 79, Penn State 62, Minnesota 49, Ohio State 47.5, Illinois 33, Michigan 32, Nebraska 26, Northwestern 22, Wisconsin 18.5, Michigan State 10, Purdue 9, Indiana 4
Matt McDonough (Iowa) vs. Sean Boyle (Michigan)
Nico Megaludis (Penn State) vs. Jesse Delgado (Illinois)
Logan Stieber (Ohio State) vs. Jordan Conaway (Penn State)
Tyler Graff (Wisconsin) vs. Tony Ramos (Iowa)
Hunter Stieber (Ohio State) vs. Brandon Nelsen (Purdue)
Mark Ballweg (Iowa) vs. Nick Dardanes (Minnesota)
Ian Paddock (Ohio State) vs. Jake Sueflohn (Nebraska)
Dylan Ness (Minnesota) vs. Dan Osterman (Michigan State)
Derek St. John (Iowa) vs. James Green (Nebraska)
Josh Demas (Ohio State) vs. Jason Welch (Northwestern)
David Taylor (Penn State) vs. Nick Moore (Iowa)
Taylor Massa (Michigan) vs. Conrad Polz (Illinois)
Dan Yates (Michigan) vs. Matt Brown (Penn State)
Jordan Blanton (Illinois) vs. Mike Evans (Iowa)
Ed Ruth (Penn State) vs. Ethen Lofthouse (Iowa)
Kevin Steinhaus (Minnesota) vs. Josh Ihnen (Nebraska)
Quentin Wright (Penn State) vs. Andrew Campolattano (Ohio State)
Nathan Burak (Iowa) vs. Scott Schiller (Minnesota)
Tony Nelson (Minnesota) vs. Bobby Telford (Iowa)
Connor Medbery (Wisconsin) vs. Mike McMullan (Northwestern)