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College Wrestling Spotlight: Why the BIG TEN Conference is the Best in College Wrestling

Kyle Carroll
18 January 2012
Big Ten Wrestling Rules - US Combat Sports

The Big Ten produces some of the highest quality of collegiate wrestling each year by powerhouse schools such as Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Illinois.

The conference also added a new school this year, which establishes its dominance even more with the addition of Nebraska. This year the Big Ten Conference has six teams in the top ten and eight in the top 20 teams in the nation.

It’s safe to say that no other conference in the country can currently compete with the dominance of the Big Ten and its undeniable talent from top to bottom. Here’s why.

Domination in 2011

Penn State is the defending National Champions in Division One wrestling. The Nittany Lions won their first title since 1953. They led four schools with five All-Americans. The Nittany Lions follow their head coach and former four-time national champion Cael Sanderson into battle. PSU was among six Big Ten teams to finish in 2011’s top 20.

The conference also produced two national champions with Michigan’s Kellen Russell winning at 141-pounds and Quentin Wright of Penn State taking the title at 184-pounds.

There was also three runner-ups for the dominate conference including Matt McDonough of Iowa at 125-pounds, Penn State’s Frank Molinaro at 149, and David Taylor at the 157 pound weight class. Having a total of five wrestlers in the finals from one conference is ultra-impressive and explains why six teams finished in the top 20.

Repeat of Dominance in 2012

In 2011-12 the Olympic gold medalist Tom Brands and the Iowa Hawkeyes are ranked second after falling short by criteria to Oklahoma state 17-16 relinquishing the number one spot in the country. According to NCAA.com, the rankings as of January 17, 2012 stands as number one Oklahoma state, number two Iowa, Number three Penn State, and Minnesota at number four.

At the six, seven, and eight spots in the nation the big ten has teams Illinois, Nebraska, and Ohio State. This showing in the top ten demonstrates the impressive quality of wrestlers they possess.

The Big Ten has three number one ranked wrestlers in the nation. These individuals consist of Minnesota’s 125-pounder Zach Sanders and Penn State’s 149-pounder Frank Molinaro and 165-pounder David Taylor. Both Molinaro and Taylor are returning runner-ups in the national championships.

According to InterMat College Rankings, the Big Ten Conference has 66 wrestlers appearing in the top 20 in their respective weight classes. In eight out of the 10 weight classes, the conference has the top-two grappler in the nation.

Adding Another Contender

The addition of Nebraska has elevated the power of this already tough Conference to another level. Nebraska adds seven wrestlers in the top 20 rankings in their respective weight classes. As a team overall Nebraska is ranked seventh in the nation. This team adds another dynamic to the conference and can spice up the chances for usual contenders of the Big Ten Title.

Below is a listing of the top 25 teams in the Nation. These teams did not all get here by accident. They have recruited high quality wrestlers who work hard during the off-season as well as during the season.

1 - Oklahoma State
2 – Iowa
3 - Penn State
4 - Minnesota
5 - Cornell
6 - Illinois
7 – Nebraska
8 - Ohio State
9 – Missouri
10 – Pittsburgh
11 – Michigan
12 – Oklahoma
13 – Wyoming
14 – Maryland
15 – Lehigh
16 - Oregon State
T17 – Northwestern
T17 - Virginia Tech
19 - Central Michigan
20 – Rutgers
21 – Virginia
22 - Kent State
23 – Edinboro
24 – Binghamton
25 - Hofstra

The Big Ten Conference is the top of the tier when it comes to wrestling and they do an excellent job of getting wrestlers from across the country to attend these tough academic schools. Below is a list of all the Big Ten wrestlers that are ranked in the nation.

1. Zach Sanders, MINN (1)
2. Matt McDonough, IOWA (2)
5. Jesse Delgado, ILL (5)
7. Levi Mele, NU (7)
10. Nico Megaludis, PSU (10)
16. Johnni DiJulius, OSU (15)

2. Tony Ramos, IOWA (4)
4. Logan Stieber, OSU (2)
5. B.J. Futrell, ILL (5)
7. David Thorn, MINN (8)
8. Cashe Quiroga, PUR (6)
17. Zac Stevens, MICH (17)
18. Ridge Kiley, NEB (19)

2. Kellen Russell, MICH (2)
3. Montell Marion, IOWA (3)
6. Jake Sueflohn, NEB (7)
7. Hunter Stieber, OSU (6)
16. Nick Dardanes, MINN (15)

1. Frank Molinaro, PSU (1)
9. Cole Schmitt, WIS (13)
10. Eric Terrazas, ILL (14)
11. Eric Grajales, MICH (4)
13. Ivan Lopouchanski, PUR (7)
15. Cam Tessari, OSU (16)
16. Dylan Ness, MINN (9)
18. Dan Osterman, MSU (18)

2. Derek St. John, IOWA (2)
3. Jason Welch, NU (3)
9. Dylan Alton, PSU (9)
10. James Green, NEB (10)
13. Anthony Jones, MSU (14)
20. Tommy Churchard, PUR (NR)

1. David Taylor, PSU (1)
3. Robert Kokesh, NEB (3)
6. Cody Yohn, MINN (6)
9. Mike Evans, IOWA (10)
14. Ben Jordan, WIS (8)
16. Conrad Polz, ILL (NR)
17. Dan Yates, MICH (18)

2. Ed Ruth, PSU (2)
5. Justin Zeerip, MICH (6)
7. Logan Storley, MINN (11)
8. Nick Heflin, OSU (5)
9. Lee Munster, NU (8)\
11. Ethen Lofthouse, IOWA (9)
12. Jordan Blanton, ILL (10)
20. Tyler Koehn, NEB (NR)

2. Quentin Wright, PSU (3)
7. Josh Ihnen, NEB (7)
8. Kevin Steinhaus, MINN (8)
11. C.J. Magrum, OSU (12)
19. Braden Atwood, PUR (19)

3. Sonny Yohn, MINN (3)
4. Matt Powless, IND (4)
12. Morgan McIntosh, PSU (13)
13. Tyler Dickenson, MSU (16)
15. Max Huntley, MICH (18)
19. Grant Gambrall, IOWA (15)

4. Tony Nelson, MINN (4)
6. Cameron Wade, PSU (6)
8. Bobby Telford, IOWA (7)
9. Tucker Lane, NEB (9)
11. Mike McClure, MSU (11)
15. Ben Apland, MICH (15)
17. Peter Capone, OSU (17)
19. Mike McMullan, NU (19)

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Last Modified:
18 January 2012

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