Five Wildcats Join Nation's Best at NCAA Championships in Philadelphia
March 14, 2011
Event: 2011 NCAA Wrestling Championships
Dates: Thu.-Sat., March 17-19
Site: Philadelphia, Pa. ? Wells Fargo Center (19,500)
Live Updates: Twitter (@NU_SportsLIVE) (Search hashtag #d1wrestle)
2011 NCAA Wrestling Championships -- Official Brackets http://grfx.cstv.com/graphics/icon-acrosmall.gif
Championships Website: NCAA.com
Northwestern Weekly Release -- NCAA Championships http://grfx.cstv.com/graphics/icon-acrosmall.gif
All three days of action at the 2011 NCAA Championships can be viewed live in their entirety and in high definition on the ESPN family of networks, including streaming webcasts on ESPN3.com. Below is a complete session-by-session viewing schedule:
Session I (Thursday, March 17, 10 a.m. CT): ESPN3.com
Session II (Thursday, March 17, 5:30 p.m. CT): ESPN3.com
Session III (Friday, March 18, 9:30 a.m. CT): ESPNU and ESPN3.com
Session IV (Friday, March 18, 6 p.m. CT): ESPNU and ESPN3.com
Session V (Saturday, March 19, 10 a.m. CT): ESPNU and ESPN3.com
Session VI -- Championship Finals (Saturday, March 19, 6:30 p.m. CT): ESPN and ESPN3.com
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Under the direction of first-year head coach Drew Pariano, Northwestern is primed and ready for the 2011 NCAA Wrestling Championships at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. NU's contingent of five wrestlers -- its largest group of entrants since sending six in 2008 -- begins competition Thursday morning.
Be sure to follow the Wildcats throughout their stay at the NCAA Championships, either by viewing coverage of the event on the ESPN family of networks (see times and listings above) or by following live updates on Twitter. Follow the username @NU_SportsLIVE and search the hashtag #d1wrestle to tap into updates from across the college wrestling community.
Below is a look at Northwestern's five qualifiers for this year's tournament and where they stack up entering the weekend:
2010-11 Record 2010-11 vs. the Field Past NCAA Results Big Ten Championships Place RPI Rank Coaches Rank Brandon Precin (125) 30-2
2009: 3rd (5-1)
2008: 7th (3-2)
2007: DNP (2-2)
Levi Mele (133) 16-9
Kaleb Friedley (141) 25-9
Andrew Nadhir (149) 29-5
2010: DNP (3-2)
Jason Welch (157) 26-4
2009: DNP (2-2)
By receiving the nod as the host city in 2011, Philadelphia became only the second site in the Eastern time zone to host the event since 2000, with Albany (2002) being the other. It is the first time that downtown Philadelphia has hosted the Championships but the 12th time the college wrestling world has descended on Pennsylvania, as Lehigh and Penn State both were regular host sites in the early years of the Championships.
Next year, the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships will return to St. Louis for the fifth time nine years before heading to Des Moines, Iowa, in 2013.
Have We Met Before? Previewing Northwestern's Early-Round Matches
Northwestern's five qualifiers for the 2011 NCAA Wrestling Championships in Philadelphia learned their first-round opponents and the roads they will travel in their respective weight classes as the NCAA released tournament brackets last week (linked above).
Brandon Precin (125)
Three NU competitors were ranked highly enough to earn one of the 12 available seeded positions in each weight class, beginning with third-seeded Brandon Precin at 125 pounds. Precin, who has placed seventh and third at the NCAA Championships in his last two trips to the event, is 30-2 on the year and will meet Liberty's Robert Jillard in the first round, against whom Precin posted a 12-0 major decision at the Keystone Classic back on Nov. 21. Looking ahead to potential second-round opponents, Precin last faced Wyoming's Michael Martinez in the 2009 NCAA Championships -- where he won a 6-0 decision in the second round -- but has never met Joseph Langel of Rutgers.
Precin has plenty of career experience against the other three wrestlers seeded in the top-four at 125 pounds. Precin wrestled Arizona State's Anthony Robles twice at the 2009 NCAA Championships in St. Louis, falling by 9-0 major decision in the quarterfinals only to bounce back and top him 3-1 in the third-place bout. His trio of matches against Iowa's Matt McDonough have been well-documented, with Precin winning in the finals of the 2010 Midlands Championships, 3-1, but falling in dual match action and in the finals of the Big Ten Championships. All three bouts took place in NU's home venue of Welsh-Ryan Arena. Rounding out the top four seeds is Old Dominion's James Nicholson, who Precin defeated twice during the 2007-08 season, including in the seventh-place bout at the 2008 NCAA Championships (5-2).
Andrew Nadhir (149)
NU's next seeded wrestler came in at 149 pounds in the form of 11th-seeded Andrew Nadhir. A two-time NCAA qualifier, Nadhir will open his tournament against Lehigh's Joseph Napoli in the first-ever meeting between the two. A first-round win by Nadhir would set up a second-round bout against either Pitt's Dane Johnson or Boise State's Jason Chamberlain, the bracket's No. 6 seed. Nadhir won a 20-7 major decision over Johnson back on Jan. 9, one of his 10 wins this year against the 2011 field at 149 pounds.
Jason Welch (157)
Sophomore Jason Welch, fresh off his third-place performance at the Big Ten Championships, received the No. 8 seed at 157 pounds and drew 2010 Midlands champion Chase Nelson of Oklahoma in the opening match. Welch will aim to advance to the second round where he would meet either Sean McMurray of Michigan State -- against whom he is 2-0 this year -- or ninth-seeded James Fleming of Clarion, who he has never faced.
Levi Mele (133)
Northwestern also qualified two competitors who were drawn in without seeds to this year's brackets, including sophomore Levi Mele (133), a three-time state champion in high school looking to make noise at the collegiate level in his debut at the national tournament. Mele will face another unseeded competitor in his first match, Joseph Spisak of Virginia, with a potential second-round match looming against No. 1-ranked Jordan Oliver of Oklahoma State. Mele is 3-8 against the field this season but has not come up against any of his three potential first or second-round opponents.
Kaleb Friedley (141)
Finally, Friedley will make his debut against 11th-seeded Matt Mariacher of American and fight for the right to meet either Anwar Goeres of Binghamton or fifth-seeded Andrew Alton of Penn State, another true freshman against whom Friedley lost a narrow 6-4 decision in the fifth-place match of last week's Big Ten Championships. NU fans learned quickly this year they would be wise to keep their eyes fixed on the mat when Friedley's name was called: the true freshman stormed out of the gates with a 17-1 record, with nine of those wins coming by fall, and he finished with a team-best 13 pins on the year.
A Year to Remember
Drew Pariano's first regular season at the helm for NU came to an end on Feb. 19 with a 27-13 on the road at Ohio State, Northwestern's first win in Columbus since Pariano was a student at NU back in 1997. With that, the Wildcats finished their Big Ten dual season with a 6-2 mark -- the most victories in conference action since 1987 -- and the No. 14 ranking in the final NWCA/USA Today Coaches poll. NU's season also included three dual wins by shutout, the first of which -- a 41-0 blanking of South Dakota State -- was the first shutout by a Wildcats squad since 2002.
By season's end, Northwestern had defeated four ranked opponents in dual match action:
#20 Pittsburgh..W, 17-15
#14 Illinois.......W, 27-13
#24 Purdue.......W, 32-6
#12 Wisconsin...W, 25-13
Northwestern in the NCAA Championships
Since 2005, Northwestern has made a habit out of saving its best efforts for the NCAA Championships. The Wildcats posted five consecutive top-15 team finishes at the national meet between 2005-09, the most successful stretch by that measure in school history. The Wildcats tied a program-best in 2007 by finishing fourth thanks to an NCAA championship by Jake Herbert and All-American showings by Dustin Fox, Ryan Lang and Mike Tamillow.
Northwestern has placed 53 All-Americans in its history and captured nine individual NCAA championships (see list on page 6). Prior to last season, NU came away with multiple All-Americans each of the previous four years, easily the longest such stretch in program history.
'Cats Stage Successful Big Ten Championships in Evanston
With seven total 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 career runner-up finish, followed by Jason Welch in third at 157 pounds and Andrew Nadhir in fourth at 149. Precin came up just short in his bid for his first conference crown as defending NCAA champ Matt McDonough of Iowa came out of a third-period scramble with the winning takedown to hold off Precin, 3-1.
It marked the highest team finish at the event for NU since taking sixth in 2007, the same year Northwestern placed fourth at the NCAA Championships in Detroit.
For more information, including complete season record forms for NU's five NCAA qualifiers, download the Northwestern weekly release linked at the top of this release.
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