By Emily Meyer
Ohio State Athletics Communications
The stage had already been set. In a close battle at the Michigan State Open Nov. 12 in East Lansing, Mich., junior Buckeye T.J. Enright lost in the semifinals, 1-0. The first blemish on his 2006-07 record came from Michigan State senior standout Nick Simmons. Barely edged out the first time, Enright and the Ohio State coaching staff were looking forward to the rematch, as the Buckeyes welcomed the Spartans to St. John Arena Feb. 2.
The dual between Enright and Simmons lived up to its expectations, as the Galloway, Ohio, native captured the win against the then-No. 1 ranked and undefeated (27-0) Spartan, 4-2, in sudden victory. Not only was the win an individual benchmark for the Buckeye, but it helped Ohio State secure a 19-14 upset over 19th-ranked Michigan State. Enright’s win over Simmons ignited the Buckeye crowd in St. John Arena on alumni night.
“Going into the match, I knew it was going to be really tough,” Enright said. “I knew it would be close and when it went into overtime I was a little surprised. My best chance of winning was getting a takedown in the first overtime, so it wouldn’t go to the 30 second rideout because his best position was on the mat.”
Head coach Tom Ryan could not have been more pleased with the outcome.
“I was very happy for T.J. because he’s so committed,” Ryan said. “When you see someone’s hard work pay off with a win like that, it’s fantastic.”
In the team’s first year with Ryan at the helm, Enright also credits assistant coach Lou Rosselli with his improvement this season.
“The new staff is really positive and enthusiastic,” Enright said. “The addition of lightweight coach Lou Rosselli has helped me from both a training standpoint and a mentality standpoint. He helps me with my nutrition and knows how to help me get through the week because he has been through it himself. He gives me the confidence I need through training to prepare me for a meet.” Even at 1-all in 2006-07, the ongoing rivalry between Enright and Simmons has one more chance to be played out at the Big Ten championships March 3-4 at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich.
“T.J. has a chance of facing Simmons in the first round or the quarterfinals of the Big Ten championships, but I think he has a lot of confidence against him,” Ryan said. “He has been very consistent, has a good work ethic and a strong belief in himself, so he can win the close matches. As a coach, I would like to see him open up some more and blow people away. He just seems to know in a close match he will come out on top.”
Enright enters the 2007 Big Ten Championships with an 11-6 overall record and is 4-4 in the Big Ten.
“My goal is to win the Big Ten championship,” Enright said. “There is a good chance that I will wrestle Simmons again. It’s going to be another tough match. Every match is different, so you can’t be over confident.”
At the conference championships, the junior looks to place in the Top 7 in the 133-pound weight class to secure a spot at the NCAA championships in Detroit March 15-17. The dramatic takedown in overtime showcased Enright’s poise and willpower and the Buckeye looks to use the confidence gained from the career milestone as a catalyst for a successful postseason run.