January 12, 1999
COLUMBUS, OHIO – The Ohio State wrestling team (6-3) defeated Navy and Brown last weekend to run their win streak to five wins in their last six matches. Ahead of them, however, is a stretch that will test the merit of this young team. On Saturday, Ohio State begins a two-week stretch that will see them square off against four ranked opponents. The first match in this difficult stretch is against No. 24 Pittsburgh in St. John Arena (13,276) at 2 pm. This weekend’s action will continue on Sunday when Ohio State travels to Ashland, Ohio, for the Wendy’s Classic.
The Panthers are coming off a year in which they finished 12-6 and nailed down 20th place at the NCAA Tournament. Pittsburgh is led by Nick Mengerink, who was a vital cog in last season’s success. The sophomore finished the 1997-98 year with a 34-4 record (18-0 duals) and was named an All-American. The Upper Sandusky, Ohio, native is considered to be one of the nation’s best at 174 pounds after competing last year at 167. He is currently ranked No. 3 by Amateur Wrestling News and No. 4 by Intermat Magazine. So far this season, Mengerink has posted a record of 11-4 (3-2 duals) with one fall. He will likely square off against OSU’s Bo James on Saturday.
Mengerink is not the only success story for Pittsburgh, however. Chad Jesko and Mike Ziska return to give the Panthers some experience and leadership. Jesko, a senior, should match up with OSU’s Jeff Bucher in one of the day’s more intriguing matchups. A three-time NCAA qualifier, Jesko finished in the top 12 last year at 134 pounds and is currently ranked No. 18 at 149 by Intermat Magazine.
Ziska made his first appearance in the NCAA Championships last year after compiling a record of 17-17 (9-9 dual). The fourth-year junior currently has a record of 10-8 (3-2 duals).
Pittsburgh is 3-1-1 after defeating Ohio University and Seton Hall and tying Rutgers in the Syracuse Duals last weekend. The Panthers lone loss on the year came at the hands of No. 4 Penn State, 21-13, on January 5. The latest team rankings, which came out January 6, have the Panthers at No. 24 in the nation. Ohio State leads the all-time series 7-6, but Pittsburgh won the last meeting between the two squads last year, 24-12, in Pittsburgh.
WRESTLING DAVE’S WAY
The Buckeyes head north to Ashland on Sunday to compete in the Wendy’s Classic. Ohio State is scheduled to meet up with Ashland, Cleveland State and Kent. Also expected to compete at the Classic are Delaware State, Marquette, and fellow Big Ten rivals Indiana and No. 17 Purdue.
BROWN MEANS WINS
The Buckeyes come into the Pitttsburgh match with momentum on their side after winning both matches last weekend at Brown University. The day began at 1 pm with a match against Navy. OSU won the meet’s first seven matches to cruise to a 27-6 victory over the Midshipmen. At 3 pm, Ohio State took to the mat against host Brown and fared just as well. As with the first match, the Buckeyes jumped out to an early lead and won easily, 25-12.
The three week holiday break between competitions provided Ohio State with the perfect opportunity to heal some injuries they suffered in December. Bo James (174), Keaton Anderson (141) and Jeff Bucher (149) all returned to the lineup at full strength and posted solid efforts. With these three wrestlers back in the lineup, Ohio State can be considered a legitimate top 25 contender.
The most impressive return to action came from freshman Keaton Anderson. The Pickerington native won both his matches by a combined score of 29-8 to run his season record to 13-2. When Anderson is in the lineup, the Buckeyes as solid as anyone at the 125 (Matt Fratta), 133 (Robert Sessley) and 141 slots. The combined dual match record of those three wrestlers is a sparkling 17-3.
The returns of Bucher and James were also exciting. A two-time qualifier for the NCAA Championships, Bucher won both his matches last weekend to run his record to 11-4. James, who’s wrist injury halted the fastest start on the team, won his match against Navy but fell to Brown’s Brad McDonald, 6-1.
The recent winning streak by the Buckeyes has been led by several different wrestlers who are performing very well as of late. One of the wrestlers most responsible for OSU’s five wins in their last six matches is Brian Roskovich. The junior has won five matches in a row and 13 of 16. Roskovich isn’t only winning, he has been dominating. In his last five matches, he has beaten his opponents by a combined score of 54-7.
Keaton Anderson made his return to action last weekend and picked up right where he left off. The freshman went 2-0 vs. Navy and Brown and has won his last three matches by a combined score of 50-11. He has also posted an impressive dual match record of 4-0.
THE TRAIN IS COMING THROUGH
The Robert Sessley Express just keeps right on rolling. With wins over Navy and Brown, Sessley ran his win total to a team-best 21. Since his loss in the main draw of the Carolina Open on November 28, the sophomore from Columbus has won 11 of his last 14 matches. He leads the team in five different statistical categories — wins (21), dual match wins (7), takedowns (65), team points (38.5), and majority decisions (5). He is also third on the team in technical falls with two.
“Robert is so athletic and so strong,” Hellickson said. “He has really had a great season for us so far, and there’s no reason to think that will not continue.”
THE CARDIAC KID
Eric Wood continued his propensity for wrestling in close matches last weekend when he defeated Navy’s James Paxton, 3-2, but fell to Brown’s Bronson Lingamfelter, 2-1. Of Wood’s 23 matches this season, 14 of them have been won or lost by three points or less. In those matches, Wood has posted a record of 9-5. He has also won six of his last seven matches dating back to OSU’s match against Rider University. It was against Rider that Wood defeated then-No. 14 Mike DeFrancesco of Rider, 3-2, in overtime.
ALL ‘EYES RIGHT HERE
On January 22, the No. 4 Iowa Hawkeyes will come into Columbus for the first time since December 4, 1989. The Buckeyes and Hawkeyes haven’t wrestled at all since the 1992-93 season.
The University of Iowa has become synonymous with intercollegiate wrestling. They have won 25 consecutive Big Ten Championships and 18 National Championships. The Hawkeyes have had a Big Ten champion every year for the past 30 years; they have had an All-American every year for the past 27 years; and they have had 45 different wrestlers win 64 National Championships.
“Iowa is college wrestling,” Hellickson said. “To have them come in here is a real honor. But we aren’t going to be happy just having them in here. We want to do our best to compete with them. It’ll be a great measuring post for our team.”