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Friday March 25

Hello everyone and welcome to the very absolute last blog I will ever write for the wrestling Buckeyes. (That is unless Danielle Warner wants me to freelance for the team next year, which we will talk about later.) Editor note: Funny, Zach. End Editor note.

So we wrapped up our season in Philadelphia at the NCAA championships sending 5 wrestlers – Ian Paddock, Colt Sponseller, Nick Heflin, C.J. Magrum, and Pete Capone.  All of them won at least one match, with Heflin winning 3 matches. But the man of the tournament for OSU wrestling was senior captain Colt Sponseller who brought home his first All-America honor by placing fourth at 165 lbs. He works so hard and really deserves to be an All-American. For me though it’s all over. I can’t tell you how much being able to compete for the Buckeyes these past four years has meant to me. I have had really great teammates who are now friends I always hope to have, great coaches I know I can always count on to be there for me. And what made it all easier was the fact my parents were there supporting me through it all, good and bad. This season especially through the bad. All four years here my goal was always one thing, to contribute to the team. For the first three it was in the practice room working out with and trying to push the guys who were in the lineup. Then this year I was that guy and I had to do whatever I could do to get better and try to win. But I never gave up that idea, that it was all to help the team. I am really going to miss all of it. This sport has given me so much the past 11 years and there is no way to pay it back. All this may sound cliché but like I said, I never claimed to be a good writer but this is just how I feel. I won’t be competing in this sport any more but, it will never leave me.

March 3

Finally! It’s about time. It’s March and we are all ready for this. This weekend is the first step on the road to nationals with the Big Ten championships at Northwestern. This is going to be the first Big Ten Championship I will wrestle at and I couldn’t be more ready. But before I get to this weekend, I want to talk a bit about last weekend and our Senior Day. Being one of the seniors honored I want to tell you a bit about what that day meant to me. Pre-match was such a surreal experience for me. I feel like I just stepped onto campus as a wide-eyed and bushy-tailed freshman just yesterday. Your senior day is one of those things you know is coming, but you always put yourself in a bit of denial that it won’t come for you. But it did; it caught me. I have been wrestling for over 11 years and 3 weeks from now I’ll be done competing. That thought is just crazy to me when I think about the countless hours I have spent training for this sport. But it was really great to walk out there with my mom and dad. They are both so supportive of me. As soon as I got into the lineup they started driving to every match within a 7 hour driving radius. I know that day meant a lot to them too. 

OK, enough with the sappy stuff, let’s bring it back to Big Ten wrestling. This championship is like a mini NCAA tournament. Some weight classes are taking the Top 8 wrestlers to nationals. The Big Ten really does set the standard for wrestling. For me, I need to take Top 6 to go to NCAAs. And according to my sisters, “that’s easy.” Well, I don’t know how easy it will be despite what they might say. We are ready . I am ready. This cannot and will not be the last tournament I ever wrestle in. Until next time…

Feb. 19

Well, it was another dual not ending the way we wanted it to. A close loss that came down to the final (read: my) match. Wisconsin is a good team that should have quite a few placers come March.

This match was the debut of true freshman Joe Grandominico, who in his first varsity college match, had to face the No. 3 ranked wrestler in the country. He fought hard and got a reversal with about seven seconds left to erase what would have been a major decision and more team points for Wisconsin, so you can expect to see a lot more from him in the future. Another true freshman really made a statement, the 141-pounder Randy Languis, who pinned his opponent in the second period to get six big team points for us. So there are some small bright spots to look forward to in the future. 

For our last road trip it really seemed like a long one. Those layovers are really not fun. But to pass the time our team has really taken up euchre. It’s a fun game that according to our resident New Yorker Pete Capone is a Midwest thing.  So we play almost every trip on bus rides or plane trips. And Pete being an avid card player feels there is no strategy to the game and let me let you in on a little secret, Pete is not very good at euchre. For those of who play, let me say this really quickly, Pete went all alone on a hand and got euchred and of course I was his partner. Anyway Pete always tries to get us to play pinochle, even bringing a pinochle deck to every trip. So what do we as a group decide?  We decide that because he wants to play SOO bad, we will never play with him. So he’ll keep being that little dog that brings us the ball but we will never throw it for him.

I also want to give a shout out to my man CJ Magrum. He reads my blog, mostly because I think his mom makes him, but I’m ok with that. He is one of the only guys on the team who reads my blog. Given our recent streak, I sometimes don’t know what else to write about. It does make this a lot harder. So to keep CJ reading the blog I think I need to mention him about five times per blog so I’ve already done that twice for blog 8.

This weekend is our last home match and it is against Big Ten rival Northwestern. So please come out and watch our last match until the Big Ten tournament. CJ, CJ, CJ. Until next time…

Feb. 11

It was a rough two days for your wrestling Bucks, dropping duals in back-to-back days at Illinois and then at home against Minnesota. Thanks to those of you who came to our matches or watched on Big Ten Network.

One thing our coaches NEVER do is make excuses for anything good or bad that happens. With our team, we always talk and divide things into two different categories – “Tough” or “Not Tough.” Making excuses is one of those things that is not tough. It is not tough to say things like “We are a young team or an injured team.” We don’t want or need to say that. One of things that is in the “tough” category is fighting. I’m not talking about fist fighting with some guy downtown, but the type of fighting that means getting that takedown instead of a stalemate, working in a scramble for 30 seconds, not rising up out of your stance for the whole match, among many others. Fighting in a match is not an easy or natural human reaction and we work hard to make it ours. The great thing about having fight is you don’t have to be a fifth-year senior or the No. 1 guy in the country to have it. That’s what our coaches want to see out of us. We don’t always show that fight and that’s when we struggle. But the crazy thing about college wrestling is that even if you have fight throughout the match, you might still end up on the losing side. But that’s the only way to win against the elite guys, is to fight. That’s what we are trying to do every time we step into the room for practice, and when we do have that fight that’s when we get better.

I wanted to write this to let everyone know those funny stories I write about come after the work has been put in. We all take this seriously and want to change this trend in our record. But don’t worry, next time I will bring back the comedic gold you are use to. Until next time…

Feb. 3

Hello all you Buckeye fans out there or what’s left of you. KIDDING (sort of).  So as you all might have seen, we are in a little bit of a skid right now after losses to Iowa and the school up north. This weekend though we look to turn that all around at Illinois Friday night and then right back home the next day for a Saturday dual against a highly ranked Minnesota team. That dual got moved from Sunday to Saturday because they thought people might want to watch that little old football game that’s being played this Sunday. (For those of you who know me, you know who I will be rooting for, or should I say against. I am a Browns fan, so whoever the Steelers play is my new favorite team.)

I said it before and I’ll say it again now, this season is different. We haven’t lived up to our normal dominate ways I’ve grown so accustomed to since I started donning the Scarlet and Gray in 2007. And on behalf of all of us Buckeye wrestlers, this is NOT what we wanted. I can promise you all one thing though; none of us have thrown in the towel on this season. We are all ready to keep fighting through the Big Ten dual-meet season before the tournament and then the NCAA championships. There is still plenty of wrestling left and we have been and will keep working out of our minds to be ready. Because the good/bad thing about wrestling is people will only remember what you do in March. And all we can do is learn from our mistakes and be ready to not make those same mistakes come March. Our coach J Jaggers had something like seven losses going into NCAAs in 2009 and people had written him off. But he learned from all those losses and kept his nose to the grind stone and made a run and won his second straight NCAA title and that’s all that people remember. So we are all learning and growing and getting ready to make our own J Jaggers run. Until next time…

Jan. 21

Hey everyone and welcome back. This past weekend we had a dual against Big Ten rival Michigan State. It was a “home” match for us even though we moved the match to West Homes High School in Millersburg, Ohio. The atmosphere there was really great. The match was sold out in two weeks so it was a packed house and the fans were nuts throughout the entire match. Although it was pretty apparent the people were really excited to see Colt Sponseller, their hometown hero. He really put on a show for his hometown crowd when he scored a major decision against his MSU opponent. We left OSU at about 10:30 in the morning and by the time we got to the high school at noon, and with two hours before the match was set to start, the crowd was already rolling in trying to get the best seats they could, which was really cool to see.

One of our favorite traditions on the bus ride to a dual is to listen to one of our manager’s, Steven Ruthen’s, music and dance to “house music.” I’d like to think we do a great job dancing to the techno dance infusion music. I’m sure if anyone actually saw us dance like that we might be a  bit embarrassed but hey, there is power in numbers, so as long as we all look dumb doing it, it’s ok. On a side note, one of the really interesting things about the ride was seeing the Amish community because most of us are from the city.

Anyway, the match was Military Appreciation Day and to show our support we wore camouflage singlets. The singlets were really cool and all of them had either the words “Honor”, “Sacrifice”, “Service” or “Courage” on the back. I think the fans really enjoyed that and appreciated why we wore them.

So here is something funny and embarrassing I did after my match (and if you can’t laugh at yourself, then who can you laugh at?) We were winning the dual 19-13 heading into my match, which was the last match of the dual. All I had to do was not get pinned and we would win the match. My opponent was Michigan State’s highest ranked wrestler going into the dual. I really did not want to cost our team a Big Ten dual. But as it turns out, I almost beat the guy. Now I know “close” only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, but I am convinced if we wrestle again at the Big Ten tournament, I will get my hand raised and as it turns out I couldn’t wait that long. I was so excited that we won the dual that after I shook his hand I raised mine and did a fist pump to the crowd. It looked like I was raising my hand after a loss and my teammates really had a good time giving me grief about that one and I’m sure I haven’t heard the end of it just yet. I don’t care though. I was just excited to see us win.

Next week we wrestle Iowa at Iowa, so if you aren’t able to make the journey out there for the match you can watch us live on Saturday at 4 p.m. on the Big Ten Network. Until next time…

Jan. 11

Hello all and welcome back to the first blog of the New Year. Hope everyone out there had a great Holiday and started the year off right. This weekend we had the National Duals meet tournament and we got off to a very auspicious (sarcasm) start on our trip. After practice on Thursday we let for the airport at 5 p.m.  to make a 7 p.m. flight. Little did we know the light flurry of snow that was falling in Columbus at the time turned into some pretty dubious driving. I’m from Cleveland so maybe I am a bit bias. So basically, the snow turned what should have been a 10 minute bus drive to the airport into a, no lie, hour and a half journey. So after that, we rushed to check our bags and get through the gate to check in. Naturally we had a connecting flight in Chicago that we also made by the skin of our teeth. During the flight to Chicago though I was sitting next to our 197-pounder Peter Capone, who is from New York. I was in the middle of convincing him Chicago was the Big Apple and New York City was the Windy City when the guy in front of me tells him the truth. No matter what Pete says I know I was about to have him convinced. On the connection flight I was set to sit next to our 184-pounder Cody Magrum. But then was asked to move so that Coach Pucillo could sit next to Cody. Why is this you ask, because Cody does NOT like flying and Mikey does a good job of distracting him during takeoff. You know how a doctor will have to amuse a small child to give him a shot, it’s kind of like that. 

So after we landed, got our bags and drove the hour to our hotel, we were all ready to check into our rooms and get some sleep for the night. Coach Rosselli went to the front desk to get our keys and what did the receptionist say? She said that OSU wrestling has already checked in and is unpacking in their rooms. How could this be you wonder with all of us standing in the lobby? It’s because they gave our rooms away to OSU wrestling – Oregon State University Wrestling. We had to wait another hour while they straightened everything out and we FINALLY got settled into our rooms for the night. All of that might have been seen as an ominous sign to the wrestling to follow. We lost to No. 1-ranked Cornell and then fell to the host school Northern Iowa. We have Michigan State at West Homes High School this weekend for our second Big Ten match, home to our 165-pound captain Colt Sponseller. Tickets sold out in what seemed like a week and I am so excited about the environment. I know all the fans will be going crazy and cheering during the whole dual meet and we will be able to feed off that energy and dominate. Until next time…

Dec. 14

Hello everyone and welcome back. Sorry it’s been awhile since I wrote this blog. I know you all can’t get through the week without it. Last week was finals week at Ohio State and between finals and practice and me looking for time to sleep, I was not really looking for time to write this blog. Don’t take it personally though; I enjoy writing this as much as you enjoy reading this, which means different things to different people. I think you all can tell I need to get my engineering degree so I won’t try and take up blogging professionally. The one good thing about finals week though is that it’s the end of the quarter. It’s always nice to take a study break from the Younkin Success Center and get a deli sandwich and some pizza. Plus we take the freshmen along too and they get a chance to hang out with awesome upperclassmen such as me. They are jumping through hoops to go with us. Ok, well that is not exactly true, but I like to think it is. Another nice thing is we don’t have class and we can just train. Not that I don’t love throwing in class in between two-a-days, but there is something to enjoy about having the only responsibility in my life be wrestling.

So I started writing this week’s blog on the bus to the Edinboro dual. I want to let you all in on a little insight into our trips – we bus it. We do get one of those nice luxury buses though which are nice when we only have about 15 people on them. We do have TVs on them that we can play DVDs and which DVD did we watch? You would think something intense to get you pumped up or maybe to make you laugh, right? You would be wrong, I would be wrong. I feel sad saying this, but we are watching the vampire vs. werewolf epic love story of Twilight. Wow, I know, I don’t think I need to/want to say anything else about that. We also had a lot of bus and hotel time for euchre. It always funny to see this happen and it happens all the time. To wrestle at the level we do you have to have a sense of competitiveness in you. And that competitiveness for us doesn’t end on the mat. You would not believe the amount of trash talk and intensity that goes into a simple card game. This applies especially to Coach Pucillo. I’m not going to go into the level of trickery that he went into to win. He knows what he did.

Wrestling Edinboro is always fun because we will always have a strong connection to them with Coach Rosselli on our staff. That’s where he went to school and was a NCAA finalist and that’s where he first started coaching. We ended up doing well as a team this weekend. We got a win which is always the first goal and some guys wrestled well and some guys didn’t. That’s just the way it goes some times. But when you are able to get a victory even after everyone doesn’t wrestle their best that is encouraging. We have come a long way since the season started but we still have a long way to go. Up next for us is Penn State. Our first Big Ten match in a grueling Big Ten schedule. Until next time…

Nov. 24

So, I thought a lot about what I was going to write today.  I really didn’t know what to say because I really couldn’t remember when we have been in a situation like this before. For those of you who don’t know what happened this past weekend, we lost, twice. We lost to two ranked teams that have quite a few wrestlers who will do a lot in March. I looked it up and the last time we lost to two non-conference teams was my freshman year in 2007-08 – for the record we took second that year. So you know what, I’m not worried. We are all ready to do what it takes and get what we earn. That is an idea our coaches have made us think about. You get what you earn and we will earn a lot of victories now and in March.

Here were some bright spots in the duals from Sunday. We had six wrestles compete for the Buckeyes for the first time, including freshman Logan Stieber who won both of his matches along with senior captain Colt Sponseller and sophomore captain Ian Paddock.

So here is something funny I’ve noticed. Collin Palmer, our 141-pounder came to the duals with a mohawk and two giant shooting stars on the side of his head. I guess I missed the team memo on this one. If I came home for thanksgiving with something like that in my hair, my mom would, well, let’s just say I would be making my own turkey this year. Speaking of thanksgiving; since you know us wrestlers have to watch our weight and can only go up for one plate of food instead of going for seconds and thirds, think of us when you are loading up your plate.

Up next we have the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Tournament. This is our only individual tournament before Big Ten’s and NCAAs. We won it last year and I’m excited to see us bring home another team title along with some individual titles. Until next time…

Nov. 15

Welcome back everyone.  It’s time to start the 2010-11 Buckeye wrestling season. My name is Zach Stolarsky and I’m a redshirt-junior heavyweight from Solon, Ohio, majoring in civil engineering.  And who better to help you through this amazing time in your life than me – the blogger who led you through last year’s season. I am honored to be back blogging for the team this year. I wasn’t too sure if I would be up for a repeat performance. I mean, I did set the bar so high last year. But don’t worry, I couldn’t help but answer the calls from all of you out there to bring back the blog. But in all seriousness,

I had to beg on my hands and knees to do this again. So any way you can spread the word about this blog and get my number of hits up would help me regain some of my lost dignity.

So let me remind you all what I’m here to do. I’m here as an Ohio State wrestler to let you in on the inner workings of the team and our season. It’s going to be a long one, but hopefully one with a lot of success. 

This season is a lot different from years past for me and the team.  In past years we have been spoiled by returning multiple All-Americans and National Champions. With this season however, we won’t have any returning All-Americans wrestling and need to replace 6 out of the 10 starters. But you know what is great about our team? We are all ready to take on these challenges and compete for the Big Ten and National titles. Coach Tom Ryan has talked to us all preseason about this – if we don’t believe we are going to compete for the Big Ten and National titles, we picked the wrong school to attend. We are all ready; we are all excited to take on the challenges of this year.

This past weekend we competed in the Buffalo Open. It was the first competition of the season so there were some low points. We did have some high points though with three champions in Ian Paddock, Colt Sponseller and Nick Heflin, along with multiple other placers (including a fourth-place finish for your resident blogger). We all know that’s not where we want to be, but we have a whole season to get better and improve. Our next competition is next weekend with two duals against Pitt and future Big Ten school Nebraska. So I’ll be back after that and I hope you all will join me.

Until next time…