By Ryan Maus
Tickets for the 2008 Big Ten Wrestling Championships, to be held at the University of Minnesota's Williams Arena March 8 and 9, will go on sale at 9 a.m. Monday, Dec. 17. All-session tickets are $30 and may be purchased through gophersports.com, in person at the Minnesota athletics ticket office in Mariucci Arena or by calling 1-800-U-GOPHER or 612-624-8080.
Big Ten Championship all-session tickets will also be available for sale at all Minnesota home wrestling meets this season.
"We're extremely excited to be hosting the Big Ten Championships this year," said J Robinson, head coach of the defending national champion Gophers. "This event always features some of the best collegiate wrestling in the country and we expect to get a lot of support from wrestling fans around the Upper Midwest."
The 2008 Big Ten Wrestling Championships will feature a three-session format, with the Session 1 preliminary matches beginning at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 8. Session 2 will get underway at 6 p.m. that same day, and the Session 3 championship matches will start at noon on Sunday, March 9. Doors to Williams Arena open approximately one hour prior to the beginning of each session.
Sessions 1 and 2 will feature four mats of action, while Session 3 will have live wrestling on three mats. The Williams Arena court will be extended to accommodate the four-mat setup.
"The Big Ten Championships will showcase the very finest that college wrestling has to offer," said Marc Ryan, Minnesota associate athletics director. "We fully expect to have sellout crowds both days and that will create an electric atmosphere inside Williams Arena."
The Big Ten Network is currently scheduled to provide live television coverage of Sunday's conference finals. The BTN is currently available in Minnesota on DirecTV (channel 220) and Dish Network (channel 439).
Williams Arena has not played host to the Big Ten Championships since 1997, a year that saw Robinson's Gophers finish in second place to the Iowa Hawkeyes. Since that year, Minnesota has dominated the Big Ten and established itself as one of the most dominant teams in the country. The Gophers have won six Big Ten team titles in the last nine seasons and crowned a Big Ten-best 27 individual champions during that span.
At the 2007 Big Ten Championships, hosted by Michigan State in East Lansing, the Gophers put on an utterly dominating performance. Minnesota's four individual champions "Jayson Ness (125 pounds), Dustin Schlatter (149), C.P. Schlatter (157) and Cole Konrad (Hwt.) "paved the way for a whopping 156 team points and a 55.5-point margin of victory over runner-up Wisconsin. Minnesota's team score was the highest at the Big Ten Championships since the 2002 team earned 174 points.
Two weeks later, the Gophers would go on to win their third national title in the past seven years.
The 2007 season also marked the second time in school history that the Gophers have won consecutive conference championships (Minnesota also won the 2006 Championships at Indiana), with the only other occurrence coming when they won three straight from 2001-03. Minnesota has finished first or second at the Big Ten Championships nine straight seasons and has placed in the top three each of the past 11 years.
Single-session tickets, if available, will not go on sale until Monday, March 3. For more information on the 2008 Big Ten Wrestling Championships, please call 1-800-U-GOPHER, 612-624-8080 or log on to gophersports.com.