March 9, 2013
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Three Hoosiers secured automatic bids to the NCAA Championships over the weekend, qualifying with top-seven finishes at the Big Ten Championships. Joe Duca (125 lbs), Adam Chalfant (285 lbs) and Ryan LeBlanc (165 lbs) have each punched their tickets to the national tournament. Taylor Walsh (157 lbs) owns a 29-10 overall record and will likely join his teammates in Des Moines with a wild card selection.
Chalfant posted four wins in the conference tournament, including a 16-6 major decision over Michigan's Ben Apland in the fifth-place bout. The Hoosier heavyweight also earned victories over #12 Jimmy Lawson (Penn State), Chris Lopez (Illinois) and Alex White (Purdue). Chalfant will enter the NCAAs with a season mark of 26-9 and a shot of being a top-12 seed.
LeBlanc brings a 22-8 ledger to the NCAA Championships in two weeks after taking three of five bouts at the Big Tens and placing seventh. He opened with a major decision (10-1) over Purdue's Pat Robinson before dropping into the wrestleback. From there, LeBlanc split his next two matches and ended the day defeating Mark Martin (Ohio State) in the seventh-place bout.
Duca, unseeded, topped both 8-seed Dom Malone (Northwestern) and 6-seeded/18th-ranked Camden Eppert (Purdue) to seize is slot among the 33 grapplers competing for the 125-pound NCAA title. His win over Malone broke a tie after the two split a pair of earlier season match-ups and the W over Eppert served as redemption after falling to the Boiler in the regular season.
Walsh and Luke Sheridan both placed eighth and have opportunities to possibly advance to the NCAAs via wild card selections. While Walsh is nearly a lock to nab a bid, Sheridan will have to anxiously await the committee's decision midweek. Sheridan concluded the regular season on an eight-match winning streak and sits at 22-14 on the year.
DAY ONE RECAP
Ryan LeBlanc (165 lbs) and Adam Chalfant (285 lbs) earned automatic bids to the NCAA Championships on Day One of the Big Ten Championships while Joe Duca (125 lbs) and Taylor Walsh (157 lbs) remain in contention for slots in the nationals heading into Day Two of competition at the conference tournament.
Chalfant has advanced to the wrestleback semifinals while LeBlanc, Walsh, Duca and Luke Sheridan (184 lbs) will each battle for seventh place in their respective weight classes. Due to the Big Ten earning varying amounts of automatic bids to the NCAA Championships at each weight, the path to nationals is different for each Hoosier. LeBlanc has already clinched a spot as eight 165-pounders from the Big Ten qualified. Meanwhile, Duca and Walsh must win their seventh-place bouts to seize NCAA qualification. At 184 pounds, just six auto bids were up for grabs. Therefore, Sheridan must now await the committee's wild card selections midweek to determine the remaining NCAA field.
Chalfant won three of four bouts on Saturday, starting with a 4-1 decision over Illinois' Chris Lopez in the opening round. Following a 7-3 defeat to third-seeded Connor Medbery, the Hoosier heavyweight responded with back-to-back decisions over Alex White (Purdue) and Jimmy Lawson (Penn State). Chalfant enters Sunday needing two more victories to seize third place at the Big Ten Championships.
Duca's second win over Dom Malone (Northwestern) in the last three week's advanced him to the seventh place bout and a winner-take-all shot at an NCAAs trip. Walsh and LeBlanc won a pair of matches each on Day One, also finding their way into the seventh-place bout.
Walsh began by blanking Purdue's Tommy Churchard, 3-0, in the first round and later getting past Kalvin York of Wisconsin, 4-2. LeBlanc posted bonus points in his opening bout, majoring Pat Robinson (Purdue), 10-1. He then stamped his NCAA entry form in the wrestlebacks by topping Nebraska's Austin Wilson, 9-2.
Day Two competition is slated to begin at 11:30 am CT/12:30 pm ET.