May 21, 2004
Columbus, Ohio – A trio of Ohio State All-American wrestlers from the 2004 season competed in the opening rounds of the 2004 United States Olympic Trials Friday at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Ind. Among the three wrestling for a bid to the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece, is two-time NCAA champion and Pan-American silver medallists Tommy Rowlands, who is vying for a spot at 211 pounds in Freestyle competition. Fellow 2004 All-Americans Jeff Ratliff (Freestyle – 145) and J.D. Bergman (Greco – 211) also entered the tournament in hopes of solidifying a trip to Athens. The trials qualify one wrestler in each of the five weight classes in Freestyle and Greco to the Olympics.
Rowlands, a Hilliard, Ohio product who concluded his OSU career as the school’s all-time leader in wins, takedowns and team points, was the only member of the group to record a first-round victory as he turned away Carlos Eason (Unattached) by a 6-1 tally. The win allowed Rowlands, seeded fifth, a rematch with Damion Hahn, a two-time NCAA champion at 197 pounds for Minnesota, in the quarterfinals Friday evening. Hahn bested Rowlands in the third-place match via a 3-2 overtime decision at the U.S. Open April 10.
In the quarterfinal match, Rowlands avenged his loss at the U.S. Open, using a 4-0 decision over Hahn to gain a spot in the semifinals, where he will face No. 9 Jon Trenge of New York Athletic Club Saturday.
On the Greco side, Bergman, wrestling as the No. 7 seed, dropped a 4-0 first-round decision to No. 10 Al Sankey of the United States Marines to tumble to the consolations at 211 pounds. In the wrestlebacks, Bergman was eliminated by R.C. Johnson of the New York Athletic Club via a 10-5 decision.
Ratliff, who attended Harding High School in Marion, Ohio, opened the 145 bracket with a loss to Jeff Frayer of DSWC. The 15-5 technical fall defeat at the hands of Frayer sent Ratliff to the consolation brackets set for Saturday.
Former Buckeyes Nick Preston (1999-2002) and Sean Salmon (1998) also competed in the freestyle division at the 185-pound bracket. Following a first-round bye, Preston dropped a 4-2 decision to Clint Watteburg of the New York Athletic Club to join Salmon, who fell in his first match of the day by a technical fall, in the consolations at 184 pounds.
Complete U.S. Olympic Trials results may be viewed at www.themat.com. The trials pick up again Saturday at 10 a.m. (CST) with the “challenge” semifinals.