Four Iowa wrestlers will fill the top line of the bracket as top pre-seeds in their respective weight classes for this weekend’s Big Ten Championships.
Defending conference champions Spencer Lee at 125 pounds and Alex Marinelli at 165 join the Hawkeyes’ Jaydin Eierman at 141 and Michael Kemerer at 174 among top-seeded wrestlers for the tournament scheduled to begin Saturday at the Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, Pa.
Top-ranked Iowa and second-ranked Penn State are the only teams with multiple wrestlers seeded first. The Nittany Lions have two top-seeded entries, Roman Bravo-Young at 133 and Aaron Brooks at 184.
"It all comes down now to you and the guy on the other side of the mat," said Iowa coach Tom Brands, whose defending champions hope to add to the Hawkeyes collection of 36 Big Ten titles in the sport.
Other wrestlers awarded top seeds are Sammy Sasso of Ohio State at 149, Ryan Deakin of Northwestern at 157, Eric Schultz of Nebraska at 197 and Gable Steveson of Minnesota at 285.
The Hawkeyes’ depth extends beyond Iowa’s top-seeded entries.
Iowa has three wrestlers seeded second, more than any other Big Ten program, in Austin DeSanto at 133, Max Murin at 149 and Kaleb Young at 157. The Hawkeyes’ Jacob Warner at 197 and Tony Cassioppi at 285 are seeded third.
The only weight class where a Hawkeye is not seeded in the top three is 184, where Nelson Brands is seeded ninth.
Illinois’ top pre-seed for the tournament is Dan Braunagel, seeded second behind Marinelli at 165.
The other Fighting Illini wrestlers seeded in the top five in their weight classes are fourth seeds Lucas Byrd at 133 and Luke Luffman at 285 and fifth-seeded Dylan Duncan at 141.
The pre-seeds are a reflection of a balloting of league coaches and can be altered following a coaches meeting on Friday, when the official brackets will be finalized.