Heflin, Stieber Vie for Big Ten Titles Sunday
March 8, 2014
COLUMBUS, Ohio- A pair of Buckeyes in Nick Heflin and Logan Stieber will seek their first and third Big Ten wrestling titles, respectively, Sunday afternoon after winning their respective semifinal matches Saturday night at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis. The University of Wisconsin is serving as hosts of the 2014 Big Ten Wrestling Championships. In the 100th edition of the event, Ohio State currently is in fourth place with 73.5 points. Action will resume at noon ET Sunday.
After two sessions, Penn State leads the field with 122 points. Iowa is not far behind with 121 points and Minnesota rounds out the Top 3 with 86 points.
Heflin, the No. 2 seed in the 197-pound bracket, is making his second-career appearance in a Big Ten championship final. In 2011, Heflin faced Ed Ruth of Penn State in the 174-pound final and dropped an 8-5 decision. In 2014, Heflin once again will face a Nittany Lion in No. 1 seed Morgan McIntosh. In semifinal action, the Buckeye senior from Massillon, Ohio, earned his 23rd victory of the season as he was a 3-2 winner over No. 3 Scott Schiller of Minnesota.
The No. 2 seed at 141 pounds, Stieber will face Penn State's and No. 1 seed Zain Retherford in his attempt to win his third-consecutive Big Ten title. Back on Dec. 15, Retherford snapped Stieber's 45-match win streak, handing the Buckeye a 4-2 loss in sudden victory. Since his conference-opening setback, Stieber, a redshirt-junior from Monroeville, Ohio, has won 13 consecutive matches. Stieber recorded his 24th victory and sixth major decision of the season after downing No. 3 Chris Dardanes of Minnesota, 9-0.
A trio of Buckeyes in Nick Roberts (125 pounds), Johnni DiJulius (133 pounds) and Kenny Courts (184 pounds) remain in contention and will continue to wrestle for a third place finish Sunday. After falling to wrestlebacks during the opening session, each Buckeye won back-to-back matches in the second session. Roberts, a redshirt-freshman from Hooversville, Pa., answered his championship bracket loss with a resounding fall in 1:05 over Sam Brancale of Minnesota. Roberts, the eighth seed, followed that performance with a 5-4 decision over fifth-seed Conor Youtsey of Michigan. Iowa's Cory Clark, a No. 3 seed, is up next for Roberts. No. 6 seed DiJulius, a redshirt-sophomore from Aurora, Ohio, scored consecutive decisions, first over Michigan State's Garth Yenter, 2-0, and then over No. 7 seed Jimmy Gulibon of Penn State, 6-1. DiJulius will wrestle Purdue's Cashe Quiroga next. A 10-2 major decision over Jacob Berkowitz of Northwestern and 6-3 decision over Luke Sheridan of Indiana lifted No. 6 Courts, a redshirt-sophomore from Harrisburg, Pa., to his 27th and 28th victories of the season. Up next, Courts will face No. 5 Domenic Abounader of Michigan.
Vying for seventh-place, Ian Paddock (149 pounds), Mark Martin (174 pounds) and Nick Tavanello (HWT) posted 1-1 records in wrestlebacks. After beating Indiana's Eric Roach, 6-1, Paddock suffered a 5-2 setback to James English of Penn State. On the docket for Paddock is Illinois' Caleb Ervin. Martin downed Michigan State's Nick Kaczanowski, 5-3, to start the second session, but fell, 3-1 in sudden victory to Scott Liegel of host Wisconsin. Finally, Tavanello used a 6-5 decision over Michigan's Adam Coon to advance to meet Iowa's Bobby Telford, but dropped an 8-0 major decision.