March 3, 2012
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -
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.
Also need just one win to extend their seasons are Preston Keiffer and Adam Chalfant.
Session two action is slated to get underway at 5 p.m. early Saturday evening.