Only the opening session of the Big Ten Wrestling Championships has been completed, but Penn State already knows six of its wrestlers are headed to the NCAA Championships, which begin on March 21.
The conference tournament, held in Champaign, Ill., spans two days and four sessions. The opening rounds were held during Saturday morning's first session, in which every Nittany Lion won at least one match.
Nico Megaludis (125 pounds), Jordan Conaway (133), David Taylor (165), Matt Brown (174), Ed Ruth (184) and Quentin Wright (197) all advanced to their weight classes' semifinal rounds today, clinching automatic bids for the national tournament along the way. Taylor, Ruth and Wright are all top seeds at their weights, while the fifth-seed Brown is the lowest-seeded Lion to make it through the first session unscathed.
In the quarterfinals, Brown had to get past Ohio State's Nick Heflin. On Feb. 10, Heflin scored a 3-2 decision against Brown at Ohio State. But Brown won the rematch and by a much larger margin, as he defeated Heflin 7-1.
The four Lions that were defeated - Bryan Pearsall (141), Andrew Alton (149), Dylan Alton (157) and Jimmy Lawson (285) - are still alive in both their respective consolation brackets and hunt for an automatic bid to the national tournament.
All four won their first matches of the day before losing and are now placed in the second round of consolations. The Big Ten received varying amounts of qualifiers for the NCAA Championships in each weight class, but if all perform well enough in their consolation brackets, they can still make it to Des Moines, Iowa for nationals.
As a team, the Lions are currently in second place. The two-time defending conference champions trail Iowa,the only team that beat them during a regular season dual meet this season, 79-62.
Action continues at Assembly Hall when the semifinal and consolation matches resume at 6 p.m. The finals are set to take place Sunday afternoon.