WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Big Ten Conference announced the pre-seeds for the 2012 Big Ten Wrestling Championships on Monday, revealing the top-eight seeds for each of the 10 weight classes heading into this weekend's event at Purdue University's Mackey Arena. The Boilermakers have seven seeded wrestlers in the first ballot, led by 12th-ranked junior Ivan Lopouchanski who was tabbed the No. 4 seed at 149 pounds.
The Big Ten Championship pre-seeds are determined by the collective conference coaching staffs, which rank the top-eight wrestlers in each of the 10 weight classes. The exceptions in 2012 are the 149, 174 and 285-pound weight classes, which set records by earning more than eight automatic qualifying spots for the NCAA Championships, forcing the coaches to seed all 12 wrestlers in those respective brackets. The seeds stand until Friday's Big Ten Championship Coaches' Meeting, where each staff has the opportunity to challenge any of the results of the pre-seeding vote before drawing the tournament brackets. The final Big Ten Championship brackets are expected to be released by 2 p.m. (ET) on Friday afternoon.
"This is a challenging task every year, but one that is necessary in making the process fair," said Purdue head coach Scott Hinkel. "Sometimes it's easy as the wrestlers sort it out through the season and rank themselves, but with 12 schools and only eight Big Ten Duals, we now have more individuals that don't face each other through the year. That makes it that much harder."
The addition of Nebraska to the conference not only increased the overall toughness of Big Ten wrestling, but changed a few things in the postseason tournament as well. With 12 teams in the championship, this adds another 20 matches to the tournament in addition to the disappearance of the "magic-spot" draw in each weight class. Prior to this season, one seeded wrestler could advance winless to the seventh-place match, earning three team points and potentially an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships.
Following Lopouchanski's No. 4 seed at 149 pounds, eighth-ranked sophomore Cashé Quiroga was named the No. 5 seed at 133 pounds after his 17-4 regular season. Freshman Braden Atwood was tabbed the No. 6 seed at 184 pounds, while sophomore Camden Eppert and junior Tommy Churchard earned No. 7 seeds at 125 and 157 pounds, respectively. Seniors A.J. Kissel and Roger Vukobratovich round out the list as were seeded eighth at 197 and 285 pounds. Freshman Drake Stein was seeded as a results of the deep weight class at 174 pounds, slotted 11th at the weight.
Under the new system, Stein and Vukobratovich already know their projected first-round opponents as Stein will face sixth-seeded Curran Jacobs of Michigan State and Vukobratovich draws ninth-seeded Peter Capone of Ohio State. However, this could change if there is any movement in the seeding after Friday's coaches' meeting. Lopouchanski will have a first-round bye at 149 pound and will face the winner of fifth-seeded Cam Tessari of Ohio State and 12th-seeded Frank Baer of Wisconsin.
Tickets for this weekend's championships are still available at the Purdue Athletics Ticket Office and can be purchased at 1-800-49SPORT or online here: ow.ly/9fb40. For more information on the championships, including ticket prices or parking and lodging information, visit the official Big Ten Championship Website.