Iowa picked up three No. 1 pre-seeds for this weekend's Big Ten Wrestling Championships in Columbus, Ohio — none of whom have ever competed in the conference tournament before.
For Iowa, sophomore Thomas Gilman (125 pounds), redshirt freshman Brandon Sorensen (149) and sophomore Sammy Brooks (184) had a "1" by their name when the tournament's pre-seeds were released Monday afternoon.
Pre-seeds are a compilation of coaches' ballots. These same coaches can protest the seedings they voted on at a conference meeting Friday, but for now the Hawkeyes and host Ohio State lead the league with three top-seeded wrestlers.
At 125, Gilman got the nod over two-time defending NCAA champion Jesse Delgado of Illinois, who has wrestled a limited docket while battling an unspecified injury. Gilman went 9-0 in Big Ten dual meets this year and 24-3 overall — each loss coming in overtime. He waited in the wings a year ago while Cory Clark wrestled for Iowa at 125.
At 149, Sorensen (31-3) jumped into the national-title conversation by edging defending NCAA champion Jason Tsirtsis of Northwestern, 3-2, on Jan. 23. Sorensen went 8-0 in Big Ten meets this year, but is coming off a 2-1 loss to Missouri's Drake Houdashelt.
And at 184, Brooks (23-4) is the lowest-ranked wrestler nationally (eighth) to pick up a No. 1 seed — even though second-seeded Domenic Abounader of Michigan beat Brooks on Feb. 13. That might be one of those seeds that gets debated before the two-day tournament kicks off Saturday.
All 10 Hawkeyes were awarded pre-seeds seventh or higher, but none at No. 2 and only 174-pounder Mike Evans at No. 3.
Two Hawkeyes are No. 4 seeds, 197-pounder Nathan Burak and heavyweight Bobby Telford.
Burak would be on track to face top-seeded Kyle Snyder of Ohio State, who he beat 2-1, in the semifinals.
Telford was ranked No. 1 nationally in January before losses to Northwestern's Mike McMullan (seeded second) and Michigan's Adam Coon (third). The draw would set up for Telford to face Wisconsin's top-seeded Connor Medbery, who he beat en route to a Midlands Championships title, in the semifinals.
Clark (22-4) is seeded fifth at the conferences's most-stacked weight class, 133, despite a No. 4 national ranking. He's slotted behind three wrestlers he lost to (No. 1 Chris Dardanes of Minnesota; No. 3 Jimmy Gulibon on Penn State; and No. 4 Johnni DiJulius of Ohio State) and ahead of another (No. 6 Zane Richards of Illinois). Clark could get a rematch with DiJulius, who has dropped to No. 13 nationally, in the quarterfinals.
Seniors Josh Dziewa (sixth at 141), Michael Kelly (tied for seventh at 157) and Nick Moore (seventh at 165) round out Iowa's Big Ten lineup. Moore was the conference runner-up at 165 last season.
If all No. 1 pre-seeds win a Big Ten title, Iowa would have three Big Ten individual champions for the first time since Cliff Moore, Jessman Smith and Steve Mocco in 2003.
BIG TEN TOURNAMENT PRE-SEEDS
As announced Monday, the pre-seeds, as voted on by the conference's coaches, rank the top eight wrestlers in two weight classes, along with all 14 starters in eight weight classes due to the Big Ten receiving eight or more NCAA Championships qualifier allocations in those classes. Seedings don't become final until after a conference meeting Friday, in which coaches can protest seedings.
1. Thomas Gilman, Iowa; 2. Jesse Delgado, Illinois; 3. Nathan Tomasello, Ohio State; 4. Tim Lambert, Nebraska, 5. Jordan Conaway, Penn State; 6. Conor Youtsey, Michigan; 7. Garrison White, N'Western; 8. Luke Welch, Purdue.
1. Chris Dardanes, Minnesota; 2. Ryan Taylor, Wisconsin; 3. Jimmy Gulibon, Penn State; 4. Johnni DiJulius, Ohio State; 5. Cory Clark, Iowa; 6. Zane Richards, Illinois; 7. Danny Sabatello, Purdue; 8. Rossi Bruno, Michigan; 9. Eric Montoya, Nebraska; 10. Scott Delvecchio, Rutgers; T-11. Geoff Alexander, Maryland and Dom Malone, N'Western; 13. Garth Yenter, Michigan State; 14. Alonzo Shepherd, Indiana.
1. Logan Stieber, Ohio State; 2. Nick Dardanes, Minnesota; 3. Anthony Abidin, Nebraska; 4. Steven Rodrigues, Illinois; 5. Anthony Ashnault, Rutgers; 6. Josh Dziewa, Iowa; 7. Jameson Oster, N'Western; 8. Nick Lawrence, Purdue; 9. Kade Moss, Penn State; 10. George Fisher, Michigan; 11. Javier Gasca III, Michigan State; 12. Shyhiem Brown, Maryland; 13. Jessie Thielke, Wisconsin; 14. Sean Brown, Indiana.
1. Brandon Sorensen, Iowa; 2. Jason Tsirtsis, N'Western; T-3. Hunter Stieber, Ohio State and Ken Theobold, Rutgers; 5. Alec Pantaleo, Michigan; 6. Zack Beitz, Penn State; 7. Justin Arthur, Nebraska; 8. Rylan Lubeck, Wisconsin.
1. Isaiah Martinez, Illinois; 2. Dylan Ness, Minnesota; 3. James Green, Nebraska; 4. Brian Murphy, Michigan; 5. Doug Welch, Purdue; 6. Josh Demas, Ohio State; T-7: Mike Kelly, Iowa and Anthony Perrotti, Rutgers; 9. Luke Frey, Penn State; 10. Louis Mascola, Maryland; 11. Luke Blanton, Indiana; 12. TJ Ruschell, Wisconsin; 13. Ben Sullivan, N'Western; 14. Travis Curley, Michigan State.
1. Bo Jordan, Ohio State; 2. Isaac Jordan, Wisconsin; 3. Taylor Walsh, Indiana; 4. Pierce Harger, N'Western; 5. Jackson Morse, Illinois; 6. Garett Hammond, Penn State; 7. Nick Moore, Iowa; 8. Nick Wanzek, Minnesota; 9. Austin Wilson, Nebraska; 10. Pat Robinson, Purdue; 11. Nick Visicaro, Rutgers; 12. Garrett Sutton, Michigan; 13. Roger Wildmo, Michigan State; 14. Justin Alexander, Maryland.
1. Robert Kokesh, Nebraska; 2. Matt Brown, Penn State; 3. Mike Evans, Iowa; 4. Logan Storley, Minnesota; 5. Zach Brunson, Illinois; 6. Mark Martin, Ohio State; 7. Chad Welch, Purdue; 8. Frank Cousins, Wisconsin; 9. Taylor Massa, Michigan; 10. Nathan Jackson, Indiana; T-11. Josh Snook, Maryland, and Phil Bakuckas, Rutgers; 13. Nick Proctor, Michigan State.
1. Sam Brooks, Iowa; 2. Dom Abounader, Michigan; 3. Ricky Robertson, Wisconsin; 4. Brett Pfarr, Minnesota; 5. Kenny Courts, Ohio State; 6. TJ Dudley, Nebraska; T-7. Nikko Reyes, Illinois and Matt McCutcheon, Penn State; 9. John Rizqallah, Michigan State; 10. Patrick Kissel, Purdue; 11. Anthony Pafumi, Rutgers; 12. Mitch Sliga, N'Western; 13. Matt Irick, Indiana; 14. Tony Gardner, Maryland.
1. Kyle Snyder, Ohio State; 2. Morgan McIntosh, Penn State; 3. Scott Schiller, Minnesota; 4. Nathan Burak, Iowa; 5. Aaron Studebaker, Nebraska; 6. Max Huntley, Michigan; 7. Alex Polizzi, N'Western; 8. Timmy McCall, Wisconsin; 9. Braden Atwood, Purdue; 10. Nick McDiarmid, Michigan State; 11. Jeff Koepke, Illinois; 12. Hayden Hrymack, Rutgers; 13. Rob Fitzgerald, Maryland; 14. Luke Sheridan, Indiana.
1. Connor Medbery, Wisconsin; 2. Adam Coon, Michigan; 3. Mike McMullan, N'Western; 4. Bobby Telford, Iowa; 5. Jimmy Lawson, Penn State; 6. Michael Kroells, Minnesota; 7. Spencer Myers, Maryland; 8. Billy Smith, Rutgers; 9. Nick Tavanello, Ohio State; T-10. Brooks Black, Illinois and Collin Jensen, Nebraska; 12. Chris Nash, Michigan State; 13. Garret Goldman, Indiana; 14. Gelen Robinson, Purdue.