January 26, 1999
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State Buckeyes wrestling team (9-6, 0-2 Big Ten) will try to get back into the win column when they take on No. 16 Purdue Friday in St. John Arena (13,276). The action on the mat gets underway at 7 p.m. The meet begins a critical two-week stretch that will see the Buckeyes have three of their next four dual meets at home.
PURDUE AT A GLANCE
Purdue is currently 14-2 on the season with a 1-0 record in the Big Ten. They matched up against archrival Indiana last week in Decatur, Indiana, and defeated the Hoosiers, 21-13. The Boilermakers are currently ranked No. 16 in the nation.
Purdue comes off a year which saw them finish 24th at the NCAA Championships. They had two wrestlers named All-American, both of whom were seniors last year. In each of the previous two seasons, Purdue has finished the season with 16 wins, which is the most in a two-year stretch in school history.
While the Boilermakers did have some holes to fill with the departure of two All-Americans, they had plenty of talent returning. One of those returnees is senior Willie Wineberg. The Fairfield, Ohio, native posted a 24-8 record last year while placing fifth at the Big Ten Championships. Wineberg is currently ranked sixth by InterMat and Amateur Wrestling News at 157 pounds and has a perfect 14-0 record this season.
Three other wrestlers have had seasons of note. At 125, freshman Jason Silverstein is ranked No. 11 by InterMat and No. 14 by Amateur Wrestling News. The Ramsey, NY, native has a 23-3 record on the season. He will match up with one of the Buckeyes’ more competitive and successful dual meet performers, Matt Fratta, who himself has been ranked as high as No. 16 this year.
Sophomore Evan Robinson, Jr. and senior David Pierce also have impressive resumes. Robinson, Jr. has 44 takedowns this year and is third on the team in victories with 16. Pierce has wrestled in the NCAA Championships each of the last two years and placed sixth at the Big Ten Championships a year ago. He has had a strong year so far, going 16-6 with a 4-2 record against Big Ten opponents. Jessie Reyes is the coach of Purdue. He is currently in his seventh season, having compiled a record of 85-51-2. Last season was his best in West Lafayette. He guided Purdue to a 16-3 record and a 24th place finish at the NCAA’s.
LAST TIME VS. PURDUE
These two teams last met up on December 13, 1998, and if this year’s edition of Purdue vs. Ohio State is anything like last year’s, then fans will be getting their money’s worth and then some. In that match, after Matt Fratta and Jeff Bucher helped OSU split the first four individual matches, Purdue went on a run which saw them grab a 16-6 lead. But the Buckeyes battled back behind 1998 NCAA champion Mitch Clark and current heavyweight Eric Wood to cut the lead to 16-13 heading into the meet’s final match. Unfortunately, heavyweight Matt Mondalek couldn’t quite get OSU over the top, dropping a tense 4-2 decision to give the Boilermakers the victory.
OSU VS. BOILERMAKERS – THE SERIES
The Purdue-Ohio State series began back in 1921 and has been primarily one-sided throughout history. Coming into Friday’s dual meet, the Buckeyes hold a 41-20-6 advantage.
HIS NEIGHBORHOOD IS ON FIRE
The torrid pace that Peter Rogers has been on did not slow up at all last weekend. The junior defeated his opponents from Iowa and Penn State, making him the only Buckeye to go 2-0 on the weekend. Rogers took the mat at 165 Friday night against Iowa’s Ben Uker. It was a contest that went down to the very end, with Rogers pulling out a 3-2 win. With the score tied 2-2 late in the match, Rogers eclipsed one minute in riding time, giving him the opportunity to gain the extra point at the end of the match. With time running out in the contest, Uker was close to picking up one point for an escape, but Rogers rushed him off the mat, denying Uker what would have been the tying point. Rogers was able to keep Uker under wraps for the remaining few seconds to pick up the win.
Against Penn State, Rogers made things much easier on himself. Wrestling in the final match of the dual meet, the Sheboygan, Wis., native handled the Nittany Lions’ Kevin Vile, 9-1.
Rogers has now won nine consecutive matches and eleven of his last twelve. His last loss came on December 20 against No. 16 Brian Pitzer of Bucknell.
The wins by Rogers were especially significant because they came against opponents ranked under him in the Big Ten coaches poll. Rogers is currently considered the No. 3 wrestler at 165 pounds by the coaches. His victim against Iowa, Ben Uker, was ranked No. 5.
Ohio State went up against two of the best teams in the Big Ten and the nation last weekend in No. 3 Iowa and No. 11 Penn State. On Friday, before the largest crowd of the season in St. John Arena, the powerful Hawkeyes showed why they are the four-time defending national champions, defeating Ohio State, 32-6.
Matt Fratta was one of two Buckeyes who emerged victorious on the night – Peter Rogers being the other. Wrestling at 125 pounds, the gritty Fratta found himself trailing Iowa’s Ben Kritsonis, 4-3, in the third period. The fifth-year senior surpassed the one minute mark in riding time with thirty seconds left and hung on to send the match into overtime. For the second consecutive home match, Fratta came through in the extra time, scoring two points for a takedown as the crowd came to its feet and roared their approval. The win was Fratta’s ninth dual meet victory on the season, one of the best marks on the squad.
Saturday’s match against Penn State was much closer than the scoreboard indicated. The Nittany Lions took a 7-4 lead into the heavyweight class. PSU’s Rick Bolinksy and OSU’s Eric Wood battled through regulation and overtime tied at 1-1. Wrestling in the ride-out period, Bolinsky picked up two points for a reversal to garner the win, giving Penn State a 10-4 lead.
The lead was extended to 13-4 after Penn State won at 125. The next match at 133 was going to be a pivotal one, with Robert Sessley wrestling No. 18 Nate Parker. Like the match at heavyweight, this one went into overtime. And like the heavyweight match, Penn State came up big in the extra session. This time the difference was Parker’s one point for an escape in the overtime period.
With the loss at 133, the Buckeyes hopes for an upset were all but dashed. However, Ohio State got some promising news in the remaining matches with Jeff Bucher and Peter Rogers getting wins. Bucher, who hung tough against Iowa’s top-ranked T.J. Williams on Friday night, picked up a majority decision victory over Jean Celestin, 12-4. Ohio State’s two-time NCAA participant is now 15-6 (8-4 dual) on the year.
IS IT EVER EASY?
Perhaps the most significant victory by a Buckeye in the Penn State dual meet came from freshman Nick Preston. The Columbus native went up against the No. 2 184 pounder in the Big Ten and defeated him, 12-4. A quick look at Preston’s dual meet numbers is very deceiving. As a freshman wrestling in one of the toughest weight classes in the nation, Preston consistently matches up with top ranked wrestlers. His last five matches have been against opponent’s ranked 19th or higher. Although Preston had not won any of those matches until the Penn State meet, he isn’t exactly getting overpowered. Preston’s largest loss in his last five matches has been three points.
MORE PROOF ABOUT 184
Six Big Ten wrestlers from the 184-pound weight class find themselves in the latest rankings. A look at the current rankings reveals that Preston has either wrestled or will wrestle against nine individuals currently ranked in the top 20.
Keaton Anderson’s injured knees are gonig to take more time than expected to heal. He is currently undergoing rehabilitation on both knees and is expected to return in two to three weeks.
The Pickerington native has an overall record of 13-2 (4-0 dual). Despite not wrestling in the past three weeks, he still leads the team in back points with 67. Kore Sharpley took his place in the lineup during OSU’s matches with Iowa and Penn State.
Matt Fratta went 1-1 vs. Iowa and Penn State to improve his overall record to 17-7. He has been one of OSU’s more consistent performers this season, racking up a 9-3 dual meet mark. Fratta’s success has led to 125 pounds becoming the most successful weight class for the Buckeyes. Fratta, along with reserve Kore Sharpley, have compiled a 12-3 record in dual meets. The only other weight class who has that many wins is 165 pounds.
Peter Rogers (165), Robert Sessley (133) and Eric Wood have wrestled in every dual meet for the Buckeyes this year. They are the only Ohio State wrestlers to have done so. Their endurance is matched by their success – the three have combined for 30 dual meet victories this year.
ROGERS TRIES TO KEEP ROLLING
Peter Rogers will put his win streak on the line Friday against Purdue. He is expected to wrestle Dan Rendell, who has a 1-4 record this season. Rogers currently has a nine match winning streak, which is the longest on the team this year. Bo James held the old mark of eight wins in a row.
KEEP YOUR EYE ON SESSLEY
When Robert Sessley wins his dual match, that usually bodes well for Ohio State. The Buckeyes are 9-1 this year when Sessley wins his dual match. However, when Sessley loses, OSU has a record of 0-5.
BIG TEN DOMINANCE
The dominance of the Big Ten conference is unparalleled in college wrestling. In the recent NWCA team rankings, there are eight Big Ten teams in the top 25. Minnesota, which comes in at No. 2 in the latest poll, heads up the class.
Because of the high competition level of the Big Ten conference, Ohio State will end up playing one of the most grueling schedules in the nation. Already this year the Buckeyes have faced current No. 3 Iowa, No. 4 Iowa State, No. 18 Rider and No. 25 Pittsburgh. In the coming weeks they will hit the mat against No. 2 Minnesota, No. 10 Michigan, No. 14 Michigan State and No. 16 Purdue.
Twenty-nine wrestlers from the Buckeye state dot the Ohio State roster entering the 1998-99 season. Eight of those wrestlers hail from the Columbus area.
PRIZED RECRUITING CLASS
Three high school wrestling All-Americans highlight the list of OSU’s newcomers this season. Joel Walker (Upper Arlington, Ohio), Nick Preston (Columbus, Ohio), and Keaton Anderson (Pickerington, Ohio) – all Columbus-area natives – each gained All-America honors last season and were Ohio state champions at some point in their career.
NEW HOME FOR THE BUCKEYES
With the addition of the Jerome Schottenstein Center to house the OSU basketball and hockey teams, the Ohio State wrestling team will now have complete access to St. John Arena. All home meets will be held in St. John this year, which has a capacity of 13,276.
Two new faces can be seen on the Ohio State coaching staff this year. Miron Kharchilava, a 1995 graduate of the University of Findlay, is an assistant coach on this year’s squad. Kharchilava, a former member of the Soviet National Team, comes to OSU from Indiana University where he was an assistant coach for the past three years.
Former Buckeye Mitch Clark also joins this year’s staff as an undergraduate assistant coach. Clark captured both National and Big Ten Championships last season, and finished his OSU career with an overall record of 119-27.