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EVANSTON, Ill. – Colt Sponseller (165) and Nick Heflin (174), members of the Ohio State wrestling team, advanced to the semifinals of the 2011 Big Ten Championships Saturday at Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston, Ill. The Buckeyes currently are in ninth place (tie). Iowa is in the lead with 79 points and Penn State is second with 60 points. Minnesota rounds out the Top 3 with 57.5 points.

Sponseller advanced to the semifinals following an 8-1 decision vs. No. 7 Ryan Leblanc of Indiana. Recording his ninth-consecutive win, Sponseller will seek another spot in the final this evening when he faces No. 3 Cody Yohn of Minnesota. The Buckeye from Glenmont, Ohio, was the runner-up at 165 pounds a year ago.

Competing in his first Big Ten conference championships, Heflin also will wrestle in the semifinals Saturday evening. Heflin beat No. 7 seed Justin Zeerip of Michigan, 2-1. The Massillon, Ohio, native trailed Zeerip, 1-0, at the end of the second period, but Heflin countered with an escape of his own in the third to tie the score. Riding time of 1:11 helped Heflin take the 2-1 win. Heflin will match up against No. 6 Ben Jordan of Wisconsin.

Earning a first-round bye, 133-pounder Ian Paddock dropped his quarterfinal match to No. 1 Andrew Long of Penn State, 6-2. At one point, Paddock owned a 2-1 lead, plus riding time, but an escape and takedown in the third period gave the Nittany Lion momentum and he pulled away with the win.

C.J. Magrum and Peter Capone dropped their quarterfinal matches in the first session. Magrum wrestled twice in the opening session, first downing Aaron Jones of Northwestern, 3-1. However, he dropped a 6-0 decision to No. 2 Kevin Steinhaus of Minnesota.

The eighth-seed, Capone drew No. 1 Trevor Brandvold of Wisconsin and lost, 6-2, in the first Big Ten quarterfinal match of his collegiate career.  

The Buckeyes opened the 2011 edition of the Big Ten championships against tough competition that included a trio of Top 3 seeds. Redshirt-junior Bo Touris began action for the Scarlet and Gray by facing No. 3 seed Zach Sanders of Minnesota at 125 pounds. Touris, competing in his first-career conference championships, lost, 22-7 (6:42).

Up next for the Buckeyes was true freshman Randy Languis, who faced fourth-seed James Kennedy of Illinois in the 141-pound bout. The Central Ohio native out of Dublin dropped a 12-3 major decision to Kennedy.

Also participating in his first league championships, redshirt-freshman Mike Fee matched up against No. 7 Dan Osterman and lost an 8-1 decision. Sean Nemec was up next at 157 pounds and he was pinned in 2:05 by No. 2 Derek St. John of Iowa. 

Redshirt-junior Zach Stolarsky concluded opening-round action for the Scarlet and Gray vs. seventh-ranked Joe Rizqallah. Riding time of 1:14 by Rizqallah proved to be the difference maker as both wrestlers were tied at 4-4 at the end of regulation.

Action will continue this evening with semifinal and wrestleback action at 6 p.m. ET. Continued wrestleback action and the Top 6 matches will be contested Sunday. The fifth and third-place matches and finals of the championships will air live at 4 p.m. ET on Big Ten Network.

Also follow along with live updates on the Ohio State wrestling team’s twitter page at twitter/wrestlingbucks or NWCA Stat Tracker at nwcaonline.com.

2011 Big Ten Championships
March 5
Welsh-Ryan Arena
Evanston, Ill.
Host: Northwestern

Team Standings (Session I)
Place Score School
1.  79.0  Iowa
2.  60.0  Penn State
3.  57.5  Minnesota
4.  42.0  Wisconsin
5.  38.0  Illinois
6.  36.0  Michigan
7.  28.0  Northwestern
8.  19.0  Indiana
9.  17.0  Michigan State
 17.0  Ohio State
11.  13.0  Purdue

Individual Results
125
No. 3 Zach Sanders (Minnesota) Tech. Fall Bo Touris (Ohio State), 22-7 (6:42)

133
No. 8 Ian Paddock BYE
No. 1 Andrew Long (Penn State) dec. No. 8 Ian Paddock (Ohio State), 6-2

141
No. 4 James Kennedy (Illinois) mdec. Randy Languis (Ohio State), 12-3

149
No. 7 Dan Osterman (Michigan State) dec. Mike Fee (Ohio State), 8-1

157
No. 2 Derek St. John (Iowa) pinned Sean Nemec (Ohio State), 2:05

165
No. 2 Colt Sponseller BYE
No. 2 Colt Sponseller (Ohio State) dec. No. 7 Ryan Leblanc (Indiana), 8-1

174
No. 2 Nick Heflin BYE
No. 2 Nick Heflin (Ohio State) dec. No. 7 Justin Zeerip (Michigan), 2-1

184
No. 7 C.J. Magrum (Ohio State) dec. Aaron Jones (Northwestern), 3-1
No. 2 Kevin Steinhaus (Minnesota) dec. No. 7 C.J. Magrum (Ohio State), 6-0

197
No. 8 Peter Capone BYE
No. 1 Trevor Brandvold (Wisconsin) dec. No. 8 Peter Capone (Ohio State), 6-2

285
No. 7 Joe Rizqallah (Michigan State) dec. Zach Stolarsky (Ohio State), 5-4