In college wrestling, the Big Ten is the elite conference. There is no doubt, nor has there ever been, that the teams in the Big Ten are the top wrestling programs in the nation. Big Ten teams currently hold the top four spots in the latest NWCA Division I wrestling poll. Undefeated Minnesota holds the No. 1 spot, with Ohio State, Iowa and Michigan coming in right behind. Purdue, Michigan State, Illinois and Wisconsin have also broken into the top 25.

To truly gauge how good the Big Ten is, one can just look at the heavyweight class. Five of the top six wrestlers in that class are from the Big Ten Iowa”s Steve Mocco, Ohio State”s Tommy Rowlands, Illinois” John Lockhart, Minnesota”s Garrett Lowney and Purdue”s Jake Vercelli. With such heavy competition, Michigan”s All-American Matt Brink, currently ranked No. 17 in the nation by Amateur Wrestling News, may have trouble placing at the Big Ten Championships.

Friday night, the No. 4 Michigan wrestling team (1-1 Big Ten, 10-3 overall) will continue Big Ten competition against No. 15 Illinois (1-0, 5-1).

“Illinois is a really tough team. They”re good from top to bottom,” said Michigan coach Joe McFarland. “I know they had two guys in the All-Star meet Matt Lackey and John Lockhart.”

The match of the night should be at 165 pounds between Michigan”s No. 12 Charles Martelli and Illinois” No. 2 Lackey. Monday, at the NWCA All-Star dual meet at Hofstra University, Lackey topped Oklahoma State”s Tyrone Lewis who is currently ranked third in the nation.

Martelli has really started to pick up steam this season after a very slow start.

“Charles has been wrestling really well recently, except for that slip against Purdue,” McFarland said. “I think he should do just fine if he wrestles all seven minutes.”

Monday night at the NWCA All-Star meet, in a match that shot him to No. 1 in the rankings, Michigan 184-pounder Andy Hrovat beat the No. 1 wrestler, Victor Sveda of Indiana, 8-6. Hrovat won the match by taking control early on with two takedowns in the first period.

Top ranked 174-pounder Otto Olson of Michigan also competed in the All-Star meet, defeating No. 3 Rick Springman of Pennsylvania, 13-8.

“Those guys wrestled great,” McFarland said. “I really think they represented Michigan well.”

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