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EAST LANSING, Mich. -- The seeds and brackets have been finalized and released for the 2018 Big Ten Wrestling Championships and No. 1 Penn State (14-0, 9-0 Big Ten) now knows its first round opponents. The two-day event takes place in Michigan State's Breslin Center on Saturday and Sunday, March 3-4.
The Nittany Lions have nine of their ten wrestlers with top-six seeds, including eight in the top three and three No. 1 seeds. Penn State's line-up features only three seniors. Head coach Cael Sanderson's squad has three first round byes. Last year, Penn State had six byes. Rankings listed in the following release are official NCAA Coaches rankings as of 2/22/18.
Senior Carson Kuhn (Sandy, Utah) is unseeded at 125 and enters the tournament with a 1-2 overall mark and unranked in both NCAA Coaches Poll and the official NCAA RPI. He will take on third seed and No. 4 ranked Nathan Tomasello of Ohio State in the first round. Senior Corey Keener (Schuylkill Haven, Pa.) is the No. 6 seed at 133. He is ranked No. 20 by the coaches with a No. 21 RPI and received a bye and will take on the winner of No. 12 Mitch McKee of Minnesota and No. 27 Colin Valdivez of Northwestern in the quarterfinals. Keener heads into the tournament with a 14-6 record.
True freshman Nick Lee (Evansville, Ind.) is the No. 2 seed at 141. He is ranked No. 8 by the coaches with a No. 4 RPI. Lee will take on Rutgers' Mike Van Brill in the opening round. The Evansville native has a 22-4 overall record as he enters his first Big Ten tournament. Senior Zain Retherford (Benton, Pa.) is the No. 1 seed at 149. He is ranked No. 1 by the coaches and has the No. 3 RPI. Retherford receives a first round bye and will take on the winner of No. 21 Steve Bleise of Minnesota and No. 24 Malik Amine of Michigan in the quarterfinals. A two-time defending Big Ten Champion, Retherford is 23-0 entering his final conference championship.
Junior Jason Nolf (Yatesboro, Pa.) is the No. 2 seed at 157. Nolf is ranked No. 1 by the coaches and has the No. 3 RPI. He will take on Michigan State's Jake Tucker in the first round. The defending Big Ten Champion is 19-1, with the lone loss an injury default while winning a bout at Rutgers on Jan. 28. Nolf is the defending Big Ten Champion. Sophomore Vincenzo Joseph (Pittsburgh, Pa.) is the No. 3 seed at 165 and will take on Northwestern's Mike Sepke in the first round. Joseph is ranked No. 3 by the coaches and has the nation's No. 1 RPI. He heads to East Lansing with a 17-1 overall record.
Sophomore Mark Hall (Apple Valley, Minn.) is the No. 1 seed at 174. Hall is ranked No. 2 by the coaches with a No. 2 RPI. He will take on Michigan State's Logan Ritchie in the first round. Hall enters the Big Ten Championship with a perfect 24-0 record. Junior Bo Nickal (Allen, Texas) is the No. 1 seed at 184. He is ranked No. 1 by the coaches with a No. 3 RPI. Nickal received a bye in the opening round and will take on either Brandon Krone of Minnesota or Mitch Sliga of Northwestern in the quarterfinals. Nickal, the 2016 Big Ten champ at 174, is 23-0 overall.
Junior Shakur Rasheed (Coram, N.Y.) is the No. 2 seed at 197. Rasheed is ranked No. 5 by the coaches and has the No. 4 RPI. He will meet Jake Kleimola of Indiana in the first round. Rasheed heads to his first Big Ten tournament with a 17-2 overall record. Junior Nick Nevills (Clovis, Calif.) is the No. 3 seed at 285. Nevills will take on Illinois' Deuce Rachal in the first round in East Lansing. The California native is 22-4 overall heading into the Big Ten Championships.
The Big Ten received 80 total automatic qualifiers to the 2018 NCAA Championships: 10 at 125, seven at 133, eight at 141, nine at 149, eight at 157, ten at 165, seven at 174, eight at 184, six at 197 and seven at 285.
The Nittany Lions, now Big Ten Regular Season (dual meet) Champions once again, begin the Big Ten Championships tomorrow, Saturday, with the opening session at 10 a.m. The two-day event serves as the NCAA qualifier for the conference. Penn State is looking for its sixth Big Ten title in the last eight years.
The 2017-18 Penn State wrestling season is sponsored by The Family Clothesline. Penn State Fans are encouraged to follow Penn State wrestling via twitter at @pennstateWREST, on Penn State Wrestling's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pennstatewrestling and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/pennstatewrest. This is PENN STATE. WRESTLING lives here.