BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP
Mar. 3-4, 10 a.m. (CT) - All Day
BOK Center, Tulsa, Okla.
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THIS WEEKEND: The Falcons are sending their top-10 wrestlers to compete for Big 12 Conference titles and bids in the 2018 NCAA tournament. The Championship takes place March 3-4, 2018, at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Air Force will be joined by Big 12 members Iowa State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and West Virginia, along with affiliate members, Fresno State, North Dakota State, Northern Colorado, UNI, South Dakota State, Utah Valley, and Wyoming.
THE SEEDS: Pre-seeds for the 2018 Big 12 Wrestling Championship were announced by the league office, Feb. 26. Eight Falcons earned seeds in the top-eight of their respective weight classes, led by Alec Opsal who has the highest seed for Air Force at No. 6. The eight top-eight selections marks the most by Air Force since joining the conference three seasons ago. The event is set for March 3-4 at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla.
125: Tony DeCesare – 11th
133: Isaac Jimenez – 8th
141: Alec Opsal – 6th
149: Dane Robbins – 8th
157: Alex Mossing – 8th
165: Alex Lopouchanski – 7th
174: Michael Billingsley – 7th
184: Zen Ikehara – 8th
197: Anthony McLaughlin – 8th
285: Matt Wagner – 9th
The pre-seeds are tentative and will be finalized on Friday evening before the championship begins. For more information on the Big 12 Championship, visit Big12sports.com. The first session of the event will take place on Saturday at 10 a.m. MT.
GET BIG 12 TICKETS: Tickets for the 2018 Big 12 Conference Wrestling Championship are available online at www.bokcenter.com, Arby’s Box Office at BOK Center, or by calling 1-866-7-BOKCTR. Tickets start at $33 for general admission.
LAST TIME AT THE BIG 12 TOURNAMENT: Air Force concluded the 2017 Big 12 Championships with three place winners, led by sophomore Alex Mossing’s fourth-place finish at 157. Seniors Jerry McGinty and Dylan Hyder finished fifth and sixth, respectively. The finish marks Air Force’s most podium finishes and highest finish since joining the conference two years ago. Oklahoma State won the 2017 team title while Air Force finished 10th. The Oklahoma State Cowboys won their fifth consecutive team title, and their 15th Big 12 title overall. The BOK Center set a Big 12 Conference attendance record when over 15,000 people attended the two-day event.
IN THE SEASON FINALE: Matt Wagner led the Falcons with a decision win in the heavyweight class in the 37-3 loss to No. 14 Wyoming (13-3, 7-2 Big 12), Friday evening in Clune Arena. Air Force bounced back to finish on a high note on the road as the Falcons posted wins in eight weight classes to fly by Big 12 foe Northern Colorado (3-10, 2-6 Big 12), 27-6, in the final dual of the season. The win finalized the Falcons 2018 dual slate at 8-5.
IN THE RANKINGS: Two Falcons are ranked in the top-33 of their respective weight classes according the most recent coaches’ poll and RPI rankings. McLaughlin checked in at No. 30 in the RPI and No. 33 in the coaches’ rankings, while Mossing checked in at No. 33 in the 157 division of the RPI rankings.
A QUICK LOOK AT AIR FORCE: The Falcons are led by Dane Robbins (149) with nine wins on the dual slate. Teammate Alec Opsal (141) is second on the team with a 7-1 dual mark and a 5-1 record in Big 12 dual contests. Opsal leads the team with 28 bonus points in dual action by way of four falls and a major decision while Tony DeCesare (125) is tied for second with Matt Wagner (285) with 10 bonus.
Junior 133-pounder Isaac Jimenez recorded the first major upset of the season, upending No. 2 Scott Parker (Lehigh) in the first round of the Southern Scuffle with an 8-6 SV win; he finished eighth in the tournament. In the same round of the Scuffle, in his debut match at 149, Robbins upended No. 13 Ronnie Perry (Lock Haven), 4-3. DeCesare showed his skill at the Scuffle by posting a 5-2 record for a fifth-place finish. He is the first Air Force freshman to place at the Scuffle since Josh Martinez in 2012. Most recently, Lopouchanski knocked off No. 20 Keilan Torres (Northern Colorado), 3-1, in conference dual action.
Overall, Robbins and freshman teammate Jimmy Weaver lead the Falcons with 16 wins apiece. Freshman Lenny Petersen leads the team in bonus points with 47 after recording four falls at the UNK-Holiday Inn Open and adding one more en route to a title at the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Open, Feb. 11. Petersen leads the squad with seven falls. Air Force has seen five tournament champions this season. Opsal claimed the title at the Cowboy Open (elite), Noah Irons was champion at the UNC Open, McLaughlin posted his first-place finish at the All-Academy Championships, and most recently John Twomey and Petersen claimed titles at the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Open.