March 6, 2011

Photo Gallery*

Event: 2011 Big Ten Wrestling Championships -- Session III
Welsh-Ryan Arena
Evanston, Ill.
Team Standings: Northwestern: 7th/11
Championships Central Page: NUsports.com (Final Brackets, Standings)
Next NU Event: NCAA Championships ? March 17-19 ? Philadelphia, Pa.

EVANSTON, Ill. -- With seven place-winners and in seventh position in the team standings, Northwestern put the finishing touches on the 2011 Big Ten Wrestling Championships in Welsh-Ryan Arena Sunday afternoon. NU senior Brandon Precin led the way with his second-place finish, followed by Jason Welch in third at 157 pounds and Andrew Nadhir in fourth at 149.

In all, five Northwestern wrestlers assured themselves of invites to the NCAA Championships by finishing at least as high as the number of allocations in their respective weight classes. Joining Precin, Welch and Nadhir were sophomore Levi Mele and freshman Kaleb Friedley, both of whom will make their debut at the national meet in Philadelphia March 17.

Penn State left Evanston with its first-ever Big Ten team championship, edging Iowa by the slimmest of margins 139.0-138.0 as all five Nittany Lion finalists won their championship bouts. Still, the outcome was not decided until the heavyweight round, where a major decision victory in the third-place bout by PSU's Cameron Wade gave the Nittany Lions enough to avoid a tie atop the standings.

Precin narrowly missed out in his bid for his first Big Ten championship, falling by a 3-1 score to defending NCAA champion Matt McDonough of Iowa in the title match that kicked off the Big Ten Network's live coverage from Evanston. After both wrestlers scored only on escapes to open the second and third periods, respectively, McDonough won the match when he came away with a takedown out of a scramble with less than a minute remaining.

It was the second runner-up performance at the Big Ten Championships for Precin in his impressive Northwestern career.

"I know that he's going to come after me and I need to be ready," Precin said of McDonough. "There are some technical situations that I could be more ready for. I feel a little angry, I didn't accomplish my goal of being a Big Ten champion, but I'm ready to forget about that and focus on winning nationals."

Welch managed a spot in the third-place bout at 157 with his 10-1 major decision over Purdue's fourth-seeded Colton Zalazar, setting up a test against Paul Young of Indiana. Welch took a 3-1 lead and secured a riding time point, meaning Young's late reversal to tie the score at three on the scoreboard was not enough as Welch walked away a 4-3 winner.

In his consolation semifinal bout, Nadhir (29-5) trailed by a point late in the match when he finally mustered an escape with under 10 seconds remaining to even the score. He won it in the first sudden victory period with a takedown, which sent him into the third-place bout against Indiana veteran Kurt Kinser. This time the tables were turned on Nadhir, who suffered a 6-4 loss in sudden victory, finishing with a career-best fourth-place showing at the Championships.

Friedley completed his first go-round at the Big Ten Championships with a hard-fought 6-4 loss to a fellow talented true freshman, fifth-seeded and seventh-ranked Andrew Alton of Penn State, nabbing the final automatic bid at 141 pounds in sixth place.

Northwestern's Levi Mele (133), Kevin Bialka (157) and Ben Kuhar (285) each finished in eighth place, the first time atop the place-winners podium in the careers of all three.

Visit the official tournament website linked at the top of the page for completed final brackets and team standings.

Big Ten Championships -- Session III Results
Championship Finals
125: #1 Matt McDonough (IA) dec. #2 Brandon Precin (NU), 3-1

Consolation Semfinals
141: #4 Jimmy Kennedy (IL) FALL Kaleb Friedley (NU), 4:33
149: #2 Andrew Nadhir (NU) SV1 #8 Danny Zilverberg (MN), 6-4
157: #3 Jason Welch (NU) maj. dec. #4 Colton Salazar (PU), 10-1
165: #5 Conrad Polz (IL) maj. dec. #8 Kevin Bialka (NU), 13-4


Third-Place Matches
149: #3 Kurt Kinser (IU) SV1 #2 Andrew Nadhir (NU), 6-4
157: #3 Jason Welch (NU) dec. #5 Paul Young (IU), 4-3

Fifth-Place Match
141: #5 Andrew Alton (PSU) dec. Kaleb Friedley (NU), 6-4

Seventh-Place Matches
133: #6 David Thorn (MN) dec. #5 Levi Mele (NU), 6-4
165: James Vollrath (PSU) FALL #8 Kevin Bialka (NU), 0:57
285: #2 Ricky Alcala (IU) dec. #8 Ben Kuhar (NU), 5-2

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