Four Hoosiers Qualify for NCAA Championships
March 4, 2012
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A quartet of Hoosier grapplers will make the "March to the Arch" and compete in the 2012 NCAA Wrestling Championships on March 15-17. Taylor Walsh (149 lbs), Ryan LeBlanc (174 lbs), Matt Powless (197 lbs) and Adam Chalfant (285 lbs) each qualified for the national tournament with their efforts at the Big Ten Championships this weekend.
The four IU grapplers rose to the occasion with three placing higher than their seed and Powless matching his No. 2 seed.
Matt Powless; ranked third nationally
Taylor Walsh; ranked 18th nationally
The quest for national titles and All-American stands begins on Tuesday, March 13th when the IU departs Bloomington en route for St. Louis. Wrestling action starts on Thursday, March 15 and concludes Saturday night with the finals being aired live on ESPN2.
DAY ONE RECAP
Returning All-American and senior Matt Powless has advanced to the 197-pound title bout at the Big Ten Championships. He will face Illinois' Mario Gonzalez to become just the second Hoosier to win a Big Ten title since 1997. Angel Escobedo won back-back-to-back conference championships in 2008-10.
In the semifinals, Powless hit a last-second takedown to get past Morgan MacIntosh (Penn State), 7-6, in the closing seconds.
Powless will be joined by at least two teammates in St. Louis for the NCAA Championships. Eighteenth-ranked Taylor Walsh and heavyweight Adam Chalfant have qualified for nationals and remain in contention for third place at Big Tens.
Ryan LeBlanc is still in play for a trip to the NCAAs as well. He needs to defeat Frank Cousins of Wisconsin on Sunday to secure his entry into nationals.
FIRST SESSION UPDATE
Senior Matt Powless advanced to the Big Ten Championships semifinals of the 197-pound division on Saturday, winning a pair of bouts in the morning session. While all nine Hoosiers competing remain in contention for automatic bids to the NCAA Championships, four Hoosiers are just one win away from stamping their tickets.
Powless improved to 32-3 overall by topping Jackson Hein (Wisconsin) and seventh-seeded James Nakashima (Nebraska) in the first two rounds. Powless majored Nakashima, 10-2, for his 10th major decision of the season. He has now compiled double-digit major decision totals in back-to-back years after leading all of Division-I wrestling with 13 a season ago.
Ryan LeBlanc and Taylor Walsh also won matches in the first session of the conference championships. LeBlanc was one of four lower-seeded or unseeded wrestlers to pull-off an upset in the first round. His 2-1 victory in the second tiebreaker not only avenged a regular season loss to Nebraska's Tyler Koehn, but also puts him just one win away from qualifying for his first trip to the NCAAs. Koehn is seeded seventh at 174 pounds and ranked 17th nationally.
Meanwhile, Walsh was also victorious in his first bout of the day. The redshirt freshman got by Nebraska's Skyler Galloway, 3-2, before dropping down into the wrestlebacks. Walsh will face Frank Baer of Wisconsin with a bid to nationals on the line.
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