COLUMBUS, Ohio – Although it wasn’t for the actual title, it nonetheless felt good when Buckeye Colt Sponseller’s (165) hand was raised in acknowledgement of victory over Iowa’s Ryan Morningstar in the semifinals of the 2010 Big Ten Wrestling Championships Saturday in Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor, Mich.

A junior from Glenmont, Ohio, Sponseller will be joined by teammates Reece Humphrey (141) and Lance Palmer (149) in all three wrestlers’ quests for their first conference titles. And not only is this trio seeking individual titles, but the Buckeyes are in the running for an impressive team finish also as they moved to third in the standings with 86 points. Iowa continues to lead the 11-team contingent with 137 points, while Minnesota is second (104.5).

The third and final session will begin at noon Sunday with the consolation semifinals and seventh-place matches. At 2:05 p.m., the fifth and third-place bouts will commence, as well as the finals. The championship rounds will air live on the Big Ten Network at 2:05 p.m.

Sponseller (165), who was 0-3 against Morningstar before Saturday, had suffered 2-1, 4-2 and 1-0 losses to the Hawkeye in back-to-back postseason meetings at the Big Ten and NCAA championships in 2009 and most recently in dual action Feb. 19 in Iowa City. However, Saturday would prove to be a different story with the Buckeye’s 3-1 victory. As neither wrestler scored in the first period, Morningstar recorded the lone point in the second with an escape. Down 1-0, Sponseller, the No. 3 seed, scored a reversal early in the third period and along with riding time secured his chance for a conference title. It won’t be easy though. Sponseller will face No. 1 seed Andrew Howe of Wisconsin.

It will be No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the final at 141 pounds as Humphrey will battle No. 2 Mike Thorn of Minnesota Sunday. In his second match of the day, the Buckeye from Indianapolis, Ind., earned his 29th win of the season on a 14-4 major decision over Penn State’s Adam Lynch. It will be Humphrey’s second consecutive year in a Big Ten final. Last season, he was the runner-up at 133 pounds.

Palmer will attempt to cap his Big Ten career as a conference champion. A native of Columbia Station, Ohio, Palmer finished third in 2007 and 2009. The No. 2 seed, Palmer was able to redeem one of his two regular-season setbacks in the semifinals against Wisconsin’s Kyle Ruschell with a 2-1 decision. The Buckeye hopes he can make amends for his second regular-season loss in yet another matchup against Iowa’s and No. 1 seed Brent Metcalf Sunday. Palmer has never beaten Metcalf in four career meetings.    

Six Buckeyes remain alive in the wrestlebacks and are anxious to help Ohio State tack on points in the team race.  

At 125 pounds, junior Nikko Triggas will seek a Top 3 finish Sunday. After losing 6-1 to Zach Sanders of Minnesota in the first session, the sixth-seeded Triggas answered the loss with a 2:19 pin against No. 7 John Deneen of Illinois. The Buckeye from Moraga, Calif., began the championships with a 3-1 sudden victory triumph over Robert Joyce of Northwestern. No. 4 Brad Pataky of Penn State will await Triggas in opening action Sunday.

Freshman and No. 7 seed Ian Paddock remains in contention for a third-place finish as well at 133 pounds following his 6-0 shutout over Michigan’s and sixth seed Zac Stevens in consolation action. Paddock rebounded from a 4-0 setback to No. 2 Daniel Dennis of Iowa in the quarterfinals. He opened his first conference championship with a 7-3 decision over Illinois’ Daryl Thomas. The Buckeye from Warsaw, N.Y., now will face No. 4 Tyler Graff of Wisconsin.

Following a 13-6 loss to No. 1 John Dergo (Illinois) in the semifinals, senior and fourth seed Mike Pucillo will vie for a third-place finish at 184 pounds. Michigan State’s Nick Palmieri will be the Strongsville, Ohio, native’s next opponent.

For the eighth instance this season, senior Dave Rella needed extra time to finish his bout at 174 pounds, this time against Michigan’s and eighth seed Justin Zeerip. Rella, the fourth seed from Akron, Ohio, dropped a 2-1 decision in a tiebreaker and will now try to finish in the Top 7 when he faces No. 6 Brian Roddy (Northwestern). 

Redshirt-freshman Cody Magrum also will compete for a seventh-place finish Sunday. The Oak Harbor, Ohio, native and No. 8 seed began the second session with a 6-2 win over Tyler Dickenson of Michigan State, but dropped a 4-0 decision to Patrick Bond of Illinois. In his bid for a Top 7 placing, Magrum will meet Indiana’s Matt Powless, the sixth seed. 

Senior Corey Morrison is the third Buckeye who will contend for a seventh-place finish. The sixth seed, Morrison, a Shaker Heights, Ohio, native began the second session with a 12-3 major decision over Marcus Shrewsbury (Northwestern) before losing to No. 7 Ben Apland of Michigan, 5-2. Up next for Morrison is Alan O’Donnell from Michigan State.

At 157 pounds, sophomore Sean Nemec was eliminated from the conference championships after a 3-1 loss to No. 3 seed Kurt Kinser of Indiana in wrestlebacks. Nemec lost to fourth seed and Iowa’s Jake Kerr, 5-3, in session I.

2010 Big Ten Wrestling Championships
March 6-7
Crisler Arena
Ann Arbor, Mich.

No. 6 Nikko Triggas dec. Robert Joyce (Northwestern), 3-1sv
No. 3 Zach Sanders (Minnesota) dec. No. 6 Nikko Triggas, 6-1
No. 6 Nikko Triggas pinned No. 7 John Deneen (Illinois), 2:19

No. 7 Ian Paddock dec. Daryl Thomas (Illinois), 7-3
No. 2 Daniel Dennis (Iowa) dec. No. 7 Ian Paddock, 4-0
No. 7 Ian Paddock dec. No. 6 Zac Stevens (Michigan), 6-0

No. 1 Reece Humphrey dec. No. 8 Cole Schmitt (Wisconsin), 6-5
No. 1 Reece Humphrey mdec. No. 4 Adam Lynch (Penn State), 14-4

No. 2 Lance Palmer dec. No. 7 Mario Mason (Minnesota), 12-4
No. 2 Lance Palmer dec. No. 3 Kyle Ruschell (Wisconsin), 2-1

No. 4 Jake Kerr (Iowa) dec. No. 5 Sean Nemec, 5-3
No. 3 Kurt Kinser (Indiana) dec. No. 5 Sean Nemec, 3-1

No. 3 Colt Sponseller mdec. Aaron Hynes (Michigan), 15-4
No. 3 Colt Sponseller dec. No. 6 Kyle Bounds (Michigan State), 7-2
No. 3 Colt Sponseller dec. No. 2 Ryan Morningstar (Iowa), 3-1

No. 4 Dave Rella dec. Brendan Ard (Wisconsin), 7-2
No. 5 Jordan Blanton (Illinois) dec. No. 4 Dave Rella, 9-7tb
No. 8 Justin Zeerip (Michigan) dec. No. 4 Dave Rella, 2-1tb

No. 4 Mike Pucillo dec. No. 5 Travis Rutt (Wisconsin), 6-2
No. 1 John Dergo (Illinois) dec. No. 4 Mike Pucillo, 13-6

No. 1 Chad Beatty (Iowa) dec. No. 8 C.J. Magrum, 6-0
No. 8 C.J. Magrum dec. Tyler Dickenson (Michigan State), 6-2
No. 4 Patrick Bond (Illinois) dec. No. 8 C.J. Magrum, 4-0

No. 3 Cameron Wade (Penn State) dec. No. 6 Corey Morrison, 1-0
No. 6 Corey Morrison mdec. Marcus Shrewsbury (Northwestern), 12-3
No. 7 Ben Apland (Michigan) dec. No. 6 Corey Morrison, 5-2