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Big Ten Wrestling: Rutgers moves 4 to NCAA

Their first Big Ten Championships and the Knights have four AQ wrestlers, with the possibility of a few more through at-large bids. A decent showing for the first time on the B1G stage.

Roy DeBoer - used with permission

It wasn't the best result or exactly what they were hoping for.  But it wasn't the worst, either.  Rutgers wrapped up its first Big Ten Championships in 11th place, with 20.5 points and four automatic qualifiers for the NCAA Tournament in two weeks.

"It was hard. Usually we kind of have an idea of who's going to get through, but we had to wrestle all the way to ninth place in some spots," said head coach Scott Goodale. "It was definitely a different tournament than we're used to. I'm just glad we got through it and now can concentrate on the national tournament."

It was especially hard for Ken Theobold who came into the competition with the fourth seed, but who lost via an injury default in his first bout.  He then lost in the consolation round.  The junior could still make the NCAA's with an at-large bid.

Both Anthony Ashnault (5th place) and Anthony Perrotti (7th place) medaled for the Knights.  Wrestling back for 9th place, both 133-pounder Scott DelVecchio and heavyweight Billy Smith qualified for nationals, as well.

In a major first round upset at 197, Hayden Hrymack topped No. 5 Aaron Studebaker of Nebraska, 6-3.  Studebaker came back in a rematch for 9th place - and an AQ to nationals - beating Hrymack 6-2.

174-pounder Phil Bakuckas and 184-pounder Anthony Pafumi ended their tournaments in 11th place with wins Sunday.

The six non-AQ wrestlers could still earn berths through at large bids; those come out Wednesday.

What it means

The only wrestler that Rutgers loses is senior Nick Visicaro.  Everyone else returns and that's very big.  This is the Big Ten; wrestling is as big as it gets.  And Rutgers scored and had a fairly good number of well deserved pre-seeds.  It means that there is respect for the program outside of New Jersey.  It means that, while we aren't Iowa or Minnesota or Penn State, Rutgers has credibility.  A good recruiting class - and being able to show at least four wrestlers moving on to the national tournament is a pretty neat recruiting tool - can push Rutgers that much closer to being in the top tier of Big Ten programs.  There were some disappointments in Columbus over the weekend, but there were signs that Rutgers can be among the best.  Next up: the NCAA Championships in St. Louis. A couple of All Americans would add to that recruiting resume for the Knights.

Big Ten Championships - Final Results

Iowa and Ohio State shared the 2015 Big Ten Wrestling Championships title on Sunday, tying for first place with a team score of 120.0. The Hawkeyes claimed their 35th championships title and first since 2010, while the Buckeyes won their third crown and first since 1951. Ohio State took home two individual titles, as Logan Stieber became the 14th wrestler to be crowned a four-time Big Ten Champion. This is the seventh time in conference history that there have been co-champions in wrestling, and first since 1932 between Illinois and Indiana.

Minnesota finished in third place with 108.0 points, while Michigan placed fourth (102.5) and Penn State (96.5) rounded out the top five.

The tournament title came down to the 285-pound match between Northwestern's No. 3 Mike McMullan and No. 4 Bobby Telford of IOWA.  McMullan's 4-3 decision kept the Hawkeyes from being outright champions.

Logan Stieber was named Big Ten Wrestler of the Year and Wrestler of the Championships. The senior becomes the first Wrestler of the Year in program history after claiming his fourth-straight Big Ten individual title. Stieber is the second Buckeye to be named Wrestler of the Championships, and first since Lance Palmer in 2010.  Head Coach Tom Ryan took home Coach of the Year honors, while Illinois' Isaiah Martinez was tabbed Freshman of the Year. Martinez becomes the first Illini to win the honor.

Team Scores

1. Iowa 120.0 and 1. Ohio State 120.0

3. Minnesota 108.0

4. Michigan 102.5

5. Penn State 96.5

6. Illinois 96.0

7. Nebraska 85.5

8. Wisconsin 73.0

9. Northwestern 72.0

10. Purdue 37.5

11. Rutgers 20.5

12. Indiana 16.0

13. Michigan State 12.5

14. Maryland 10.5