CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (UI Release) -- Eight University of Illinois wrestlers have earned pre-seeds for the Big Ten Championships as voted by the conference coaches, the Big Ten office announced Monday. Conrad Polz (165) earned the No. 2 seed, while Jesse Delgado (125) and Mario Gonzalez (197) notched the No. 3 seed. Senior Daryl Thomas (133) grabbed the No. 5 spot while Jordan Blanton (174) and Tony Dallago (184) earned the No. 6 seed. Redshirt-freshman Caleb Ervin earned the No. 7 spot while Christopher Lopez (HWT) grabbed the No. 11 seed at heavyweight.
Delgado posted a 6-1 record against the 125-pound Big Ten field, with his only loss coming from the No. 2 seeded wrestler Nico Megaludis (Penn State). The sophomore defeated the No. 1 seeded wrestler Matt McDonough during the regular season to give the Hawkeye his only loss in the conference season. Delgado also posted wins over the No. 5 seed Nikko Triggas (Ohio State), No. 7 David Thorn (Minnesota) and No. 8 Dom Malone (Northwestern).
Thomas has 4-3 record against the field at 133, with wins over two seeded wrestlers including No. 7 Chris Dardanes (Minnesota) and No. 8 Shawn Nagel (Nebraska). The senior lost a close match to the No. 4 seed Jordan Conaway just a few weeks ago.
Ervin is 3-4 against the field at 149, with wins over No. 2 seed Dylan Ness (Minnesota) as well as No. 10 Dylan Marriott (Northwestern) and Preston Keiffer (Indiana).
Polz holds a 6-1record against the 165-pound group, with his only loss coming from the top-seeded David Taylor of Penn State. The senior has defeated six of the seeded conference foes coming into the championships. The No. 2 seed is a career-high for the Illini grappler.
Blanton posted a 5-5 record against the Big Ten 174-pound group, with victories over No. 7 Lee Munster (Northwestern), No. 9 Scott Liegel (Wisconsin), No. 10 Chad Welch (Purdue) and No. 12 Cheney Dale of Indiana. The senior dropped one point matches to top-seeded Logan Storley (Minnesota) and No. 2 Mike Evans of Iowa.
Dallago is 3-4 against the field, with wins over No. 7 Luke Sheridan (Indiana), Cody Magrum (Ohio State) and one unseeded wrestler. Two of his losses came against top-seeded top-seeded Ed Ruth (Penn State) and No. 2 Kevin Steinhaus (Minnesota).
Gonzalez is 4-2 against the field at 197 with both of his losses coming from the top-two wrestlers in the conference championship. His four wins came over all seeded wrestlers, including No. 5 Braden Atwood (Purdue), No. 6 Nathan Burak Iowa), No. 9 Alex Polizzi (Northwestern) and Caleb Kolb (Nebraska).
Lopez posted a 1-6 record against the heavyweights in the Big Ten, with his win coming against Purdue's Alex White (No. 12).
Seeds will be finalized at the coaches' meting on March 8, with brackets being finalized that afternoon. The Big Ten Championships will be hosted by the Illini and held March 9-10 at Assembly Hall.
Session one of the Big Ten Championships will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 9. A weight-by-weight breakdown of the Big Ten's qualifiers show the conference getting seven for 125, seven for 133, six for 141, eight for 149, seven for 157, eight for 165, eight for 174, six for 184, eight for 197 and nine for heavyweight.
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