Eight Buckeyes win automatic bidding for NCAA championships as five qualify for Big Ten final



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Ohio State was about perfect in the semifinal round of the Big Ten Championships, placing the five contenders for the title in Sunday's final. With nine wrestlers still competing for second-round spots, the Buckeyes have overtaken Minnesota in the team race, but still far from Penn State.

Team scores after the first day

Team

Points

1

STATE OF PENN

131.0

2

STATE OF THE OHIO

111.5

3

NEBRASKA

84

4

IOWA

83.5

5

MINNESOTA

76.5

Perhaps more important than defending the team's consecutive tournament titles, eight team members signed up for Pittsburgh, winning automatic bidding for the NCAA championships.

Heavyweight Chase Singletary was the only member of the team to be eliminated from the tournament on Saturday, falling on Youssif Hemida of Maryland in the consolation category; he will hope for a general offer when it is announced on Tuesday. Malik Heinselman is still alive in a mini console for the ninth automatic auction of the Big Ten at 125 lbs.

Final, group of five

Luke Pletcher became the first Buckeye to qualify for the Big Ten final when No. 1 Stevan Micic lost his semifinal match to 133 pounds. Micic struggled with a large knee brace throughout the tournament and the Michigan staff apparently felt that discretion was the best value and gave up the match.

Pletcher will face Nick Suriano of Rutgers, who played in the championship game after a wild arrival against Austin DeSanto. It seemed like things could get ugly in the last seconds of the fight, but the coldest heads prevailed.

Both Joey McKenna and Micah Jordan have to fight for their semifinal matches, McKenna vindicating his loss to Nick Lee of Penn State, and The Mongoose crushing Brady Berge in an important decision.

Even with the two wins over Nittany Lions, the Buckeyes are still trailing Cael Sanderson Howling Commandos by more than 20 points in the team title race.

McKenna will defend his Big Ten title against No. 20 Nebraska's Chad Red, entered the tournament as No. 8 seed and upset No. 1 Michael Carr of Illinois. McKenna is aiming for his fourth conference title; He won two Pac-12 titles at Stanford before going to Columbus last season.

Jordan will face Anthony Ashnault of Rutgers first in the finals at 149 pounds. Ashnault is the only man to beat Jordan this season.

In the topweights, Myles Martin handled with relative ease the No. 8 Emery Parker of Illinois and Kollin Moore opened his attack on the last third to thwart a match of No. 5 Jacob Warner at Iowa at 197.

Martin will face Shakur Rasheed of Penn State in the championship game and Moore will face No. 1 Bo Nickal, a strong Hodge Trophy candidate.

Martin and Rasheed are two of the few undefeated wrestlers in NCAA Division I. Moore has two Big Ten titles at 197, but Nickal blocked him in the first period of their duel match a month ago.

Always hunting …

In the consolation group, Ethan Smith and Te 'Shan Campbell compete Sunday morning in the consolation semifinal for a spot in their respective fight in third place.

Smith shot a shot at goal in the first period to go up 2-0 against Ryan Christensen of Wisconsin, but the Badger was injured in the trade and failed. He will face No. 13 Devin Statzka of Minnesota.

Campbell advanced after playing one of his best third periods of the season. After a 1-0 win over Bryce Martin of Indiana after the first 5 minutes of competition, "Shan's was unleashed: starting from the bottom, he made a quick turnaround to take the head. on his back twice for a pair of 4 points near the falls.

The race time gave him a major decision of 11-2. He will face Logan Massa of Michigan in the consolation semifinal on Sunday.

Ke-Shawn Hayes has had a tough end to the day and will be fighting for 7th place after losing a major 11-1 decision against No. 7 Kaleb Young of Iowa. Hayes sank on the wrong side during the first period and never recovered. Cruel, his opponent in the Placement match is John Van Brill of Rutgers, the opponent who pushed him out of the championship earlier in the tournament.

Another Sunday to come

All things considered, it was a good day for Tom Ryan's team. Although a fourth Big Ten title in five years may be out of reach when the dust has cleared, placing five men in the final round and winning at least eight automatic nominations for the NCAA Tournament is an unprecedented success.

To put things in perspective, yes, Penn State leads with more than 20 points in the team race … but Ohio State has 27.5 points ahead of Nebraska after the first day of action.

Session III of the Big Ten Championship will start at 11:00 am Sunday and will be broadcast again via BTN Plus. The championship round is scheduled at 4 pm and will be broadcast live on the Big Ten network.

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