EAST LANSING, Mich. â€“ Five Michigan State wrestlers â€“ Tyler Dickenson (197 pounds), Curran Jacobs (174), Sean McMurray (157), Dan Osterman (149) and Joe Rizqallah (heavyweight) Â â€“ have been selected to participate in the 2011 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, the NCAA announced Wednesday night.
All five Spartans, who will be making their first career appearances at the national meet, automatically qualified with their placing at last weekendâ€™s Big Ten Championships.Â A total of 330 wrestlers were selected (33 per weight class) for the championships.
Dickenson placed fourth at the Big Ten Championships at 197 pounds and enters the tournament with a 22-15 NCAA record. He defeated three seeded wrestlers at the Big Ten meet, including upsets over eight-ranked Logan Brown of Purdue and 10th-ranked Matt Powless of Indiana. His impressive performance launched him into the national rankings at No. 18 this week.
Now in his third year in the starting lineup, Dickenson, a native of Pewamo, Mich., is having his best season yet as a Spartan. In addition to his 22 wins, he finished eighth in the prestigious Midlands Championships, and also placed second at the EMU Open and fourth at the MSU Open. He went 11-7 in dual meets this season.
Dickenson will open the NCAA Championships against Joseph Kennedy of Lehigh in Thursday morningâ€™s first round.
A product of Owosso, Mich., Jacobs qualified for his first NCAAs by taking seventh-place at the Big Ten Championships. The junior defeated Justin Zeerip of Michigan, 6-5 in the first tiebreaker, in the seventh-place match; the top eight in the 174-weight class garnered automatic berths to nationals.
Jacobsâ€™ 24 wins are tied for first on the team, and he compiled an 11-6 mark in duals. He took first in the Cleveland State Open Dec. 11 and placed fourth in the Eastern Michigan Open Nov. 6.
In his first match, Jacobs (24-11) will go against 11th-seeded Austin Meys of Lehigh.
McMurray accomplished the rare feat of a true freshman qualifying for the NCAA Championships with his sixth-place Big Ten finish at 157 pounds. McMurray won two of his first three matches at the Big Ten Championships to automatically qualify, as the top-six in the 157-pound weight class earned bids to nationals.
McMurray finished the dual season strong, claiming wins over No. 20 Brandon Zeerip of Michigan and Wisconsin's Shawn Perry on the last weekend of the regular season. The Portage, Ind., native is 16-13 overall and was 5-5 in duals this season after entering the lineup Jan. 14 with a win against West Virginia's Ryan Goodman, 5-2. He pinned Jackson Morse of Illinois in 4:40 to help MSU upset No. 14 Illinois, 21-15, on Jan. 30.
McMurray begins his quest for All-America honors against ninth-seeded James Fleming of Clarion in the first round.
In one of the most competitive weight classes in the Big Ten where the top-eight finishers received automatic bids, Osterman took seventh at 149 pounds. He pinned fifth-seeded Cole Schmitt of Wisconsin in just one minute in the seventh-place match and went 2-2 overall at the tournament.
For the season, Osterman is tied for the team lead along with Jacobs with 24 wins against only nine losses. The sophomore from Carson City, Mich., led the team with 15 dual meet wins (15-3 record) and 53 dual meet points. He started the year by winning his second straight Eastern Michigan Open title, then followed with a fourth-place showing at the MSU Open.
Osterman will wrestle Virginiaâ€™s Derek Valenti in the first round, with the possibility of facing second-seeded Frank Molinari of Penn State in the second round.
At heavyweight, Rizqallah placed fourth in his first career appearance at the Big Ten Championships. The sophomore out of Allegan, Mich., went 3-2 overall at the Big Ten meet, including victories over nationally ranked wrestlers Ricardo Alcala of Indiana and Ben Apland of Michigan.
Rizqallah compiled a 20-12 NCAA record and produced a 7-3 dual record as the starter at heavyweight in the second half of the season. He also placed fourth at the Nittany Lion Open Dec. 5.
Rizqallah has some of the most notable wins for the Spartans this season. He upset then-No. 5 Cameron Wade of Penn State, 8-2, on Feb. 4, and made an immediate impact in the lineup as his pin in the last match of the West Virginia dual secured the 21-18 comeback win for the Spartans.
In the first round on Thursday, Rizqallah will match up against Eastern Michiganâ€™s David Wade.
The first session of the NCAA Wrestling Championships will begin Thursday, March 17 at 10 a.m. Live coverage will be available on ESPN3.com.
NOTES ON NCAA QUALIFIERS:
The NCAA announced the qualifier allocations for the 2011 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships on Feb. 23. Each qualifying tournament was awarded spots per weight class based on current year data. Each wrestler was measured on the following: Division I winning percentage; rating percentage index (RPI); and coaches ranking.
This year, the following allocation numbers per weight class for the Big Ten were: 125 (5), 133 (8), 141 (6), 149 (8), 157 (6), 165 (8), 174 (8), 184 (6), 197 (6), and heavyweight (6).
The NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee announced the remaining 50 at-large berths on Wednesday night to complete the brackets. All weight classes consist of 33 wrestlers (total of 330).