Illinois wrestler Eric Barone, a former state champion at Crystal Lake South, placed fourth in the 157-pound bracket at the Big Ten Championships over the weekend in Piscataway, New Jersey. The redshirt senior knocked off two wrestlers ranked in the top 10 nationally on his way to the best Big Ten finish of his career.
Illinois teammate Travis Piotrowski, a former state champion at Prairie Ridge, finished fifth at 133. Both Barone and Piotrowski locked up spots in the NCAA Championships, which begin March 19 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Barone (15-13) is a three-time NCAA qualifier. Piotrowski (27-4), a senior, is now a four-time NCAA qualifier.
Purdue’s Christian Brunner, a former state champion at Dundee-Crown, came in sixth at 197 and is also an NCAA qualifier. Brunner, a senior, is now a four-time NCAA qualifier. Brunner, however, lost his final two matches at the Big Ten tournament by medical forfeit.
Elsewhere, Air Force’s Lenny Petersen finished in eighth place at 141 at the Big 12 Championships, coming up short of automatically qualifying for the NCAA Championships. Petersen, a junior for the Falcons, won two state titles at Crystal Lake Central. He needed to place fifth or better in his class to automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships. NCAA at-large bids will be announced Tuesday and the NCAA selection show will air 5 p.m. Wednesday on NCAA.com.