University Park, Pa. — The brackets for the 2011 NCAA Wrestling Championships have been announced and the Penn State Nittany Lions will send eight wrestlers to Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center on March 17-19. Senior Brad Pataky (Clearfield, Pa.) received an at-large bid at 125 during the annual Selection Show aired live at www.ncaa.com to give Penn State its eighth qualifier.
In addition, Penn State now knows that seven of its eight entrants will enter the tournament seeded, led by two-time All-American Frank Molinaro (Barnegat, N.J.), who is the No. 2 seed at 149, and red-shirt freshman Ed Ruth (Harrisburg, Pa.), who is the No. 2 seed at 174. All seven of Penn State’s seeds are in the top 10. The eight qualifiers are the most for Penn State since eight went in 2006. The Nittany Lions are coming off a thrilling run to the school’s first ever Big Ten Championship, sparked by a school record five individual champions.
Pataky, 11-5 overall, will be unseeded at the tournament and will face No. 12 Jarrod Garnett of Virginia Tech. Pataky and Garnett met twice last year and split the action 1-1. The winner of the Pataky/Garnett bout will take on the winner of the battle between No. 5 seed Zach Sanders of Minnesota and Jason Lara of Oregon State.
Sophomore Andrew Long (Creston, Iowa), 15-1 overall and the 2011 Big Ten Champion, will be the No. 3 seed at 133. Long, the 2010 NCAA National Runner-Up at 125, will face Northern Colorado’s Casey Cruz in the opening round. Long and Cruz did not meet this year. The winner of the Long/Cruz bout will take on the winner of the match-up between Jordan Thome of Army and David Thorn of Minnesota.
True freshman Andrew Alton (Mill Hall, Pa.), 28-8 overall, is the No 6 seed at 141. Alton will battle Binghamton’s Anwar Goeres in the opening round. Alton and Goeres did not meet this year. The winner of the Alton/Goeres bout will take on the winner of the first round match-up between No. 11 seed Matthew Mariacher of American and Kaleb Friedley of Northwestern in the second round.
Two-time All-American Molinaro, 28-2 overall and the 2011 Big Ten Champion, is the No. 2 seed at 149. He will take on Rider’s Zac Cibula in the opening round. Molinaro and Cibula have never met. The winner of the Molinaro/Cibula bout will take on the winner of the battle between Michigan State’s Dan Osterman and Penn’s Derek Valenti in the second round.
Undefeated red-shirt freshman David Taylor (St. Paris, Ohio), 34-0 overall and the 2011 Big Ten Champion, is the No. 3 seed at 157. Taylor will meet Oklahoma State’s Robert Erisman in the opening round. Taylor did not face Erisman, who is the Big 12 Champion at 157 but unseeded at NCAAs, this season. The winner of the Taylor/Erisman match will take on the winner of the bout between Matt Kaylor of Binghamton and David Bonin of Northern Iowa in the second round.
Red-shirt freshman Ruth, 32-1 overall and the 2011 Big Ten Champion, is the No. 2 seed at 174. Ruth will battle Liberty’s royal Brettrager in the opening round. The duo has never met. The winner of the Ruth/Brettrager bout will face the winner of the match-up between Minnesota’s Scott Glasser and Wyoming’s Patrick Martinez in the second round.
Sophomore Quentin Wright (Wingate, Pa.), 16-6 overall and the 2011 Big Ten Champion, is the No. 9 seed at 184. Wright will face Virginia’s Jonathan Fausey in the opening round. The winner of the Wright/Fausey battle will meet the winner of the bout between No. 8 seed Kevin Steinhaus of Minnesota and Jason McCroskey of Chattanooga in the second round.
Junior Cameron Wade (Twinsburg, Ohio), 28-6 overall, is the No. 9 seed at heavyweight. Wade will take on the winner of a pig-tail bout featuring unseeded big men Jeremy Johnson of Ohio and Clayton Jack of Oregon State. The winner of Wade’s first round battle will take on the winner of the match-up between Northern Iowa’s Christian Brantley and No. 8 seed Tony Nelson of Minnesota in the second round.
The 2011 NCAA Championships will be covered in full by the ESPN family of networks. The full television schedule is as follows: Thursday, March 17 – Session one, 11 a.m. (ESPN3) — Session two, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN3); Friday, March 18 – Session three, 10:30 a.m. (ESPNU & ESPN3 simulcast) – Session four, 7 p.m. (ESPNU & ESPN3 simulcast); Saturday, March 19 – Session five, 11 a.m. (ESPNU & ESPN3 simulcast) – Session six/championship finals, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN). All broadcasts are in HD, including ESPN3.