The Penn State Nittany Lions host the 2009 Big Ten Wrestling Championships starting this Saturday March the 7th. The pre-seeds are out for all ten weight classes and after the disastrous year Penn State has had during the dual meet season, they are actually represented quite well.
Wt. – Rank. Name
125 - #4. Brad Pataky, PSU
133 - #6. Jake Strayer, PSU
141- UR Frank Molinaro, PSU
149 - #2. Bubba Jenkins, PSU
157 – UR Tim Darling, PSU
165 - #6. Dan Villamont, PSU
174 - #3. Quentin Wright, PSU
184 – UR Jack Decker, PSU
197 – UR Clay Steadman, PSU
HWY UR - Tighe / Wade, PSU
Half the team is ranked with Jenkins coming in the highest ranked of any PSU wrestler. This season the NCAA has a new system of "qualifying" the number of spots or automatic bids each conference gets according to a rating system.
Qualifying tournaments were awarded spots at each weight based on data, ranging from winning percentage, RPI rating and a coaches ranking. Each wrestler that reached two of the following three criteria — .725 winning percentage, top 28 RPI or top 28 coaches ranking — received an NCAA tournament spot for his conference in his weight class.
Five Nittany Lions — sophomore 125-pounder Brad Pataky, senior 133-pounder Jake Strayer, freshman 141-pounder Frank Molinaro, junior 149-pounder Bubba Jenkins and freshman 174-pounder Quentin Wright — met at least two of three criteria at their respective weights.
The Big Ten easily received the most qualifying spots at 61 compared to the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association's 38.
As far as our hero's go the Big Ten received 7 spots at 125, 6 at 133, 5 at 149, 8 at 165 and 6 at 174. At 165, Dan Vallimont only needs to win twice to earn a NCAA tournament spot, easily the best chance for any Penn State wrestler. The Big Ten also received 7 spots at 141, if Frank Molinaro can wrestle up to his potential he could make an impact. In the end you want to finish as high as possible but winning enough in the Big Ten's and getting through to wrestle in the NCAA's is the goal.
With Dan Vallimont's up and down year it would not be a surprise if Penn State only gets Pataky, Strayer, Jenkins and Wright through although Vallimont and Darling or Molinaro could make some noise. Decker, Steadman and whoever wrestles heavyweight don't have a chance in my mind, getting one of those guys through would be a huge bonus.
Update: the championship finals can be seen live on the Big Ten Network starting at 2PM Sunday March 8th.