COLUMBUS, Ohio It is a two-for-one deal for wrestling fans in Columbus this weekend as the fifth-ranked Ohio State wrestling team goes to work twice, hosting No. 19 (tied) Indiana Friday and No. 10 Minnesota Sunday.
The Buckeyes open Big Ten Conference action vs. the Hoosiers at 7 p.m. Friday in St. John Arena before moving across the Olentangy River to Value City Arena where it will conclude the weekend with a dual against the Golden Gophers at 11 a.m. Sunday. The meet Sunday will mark the first time the wrestling team has competed in Value City Arena and precedes the Ohio State-Indiana women’s basketball game at 4 p.m.
Ohio State Probable Line-up
125 Nikko Triggas (16-9)/ Bo Touris (4-3)
133 No. 1 Reece Humphrey (19-0)/ Pat Harrington (6-4)
141 No. 12 J Jaggers (13-5)
149 No. 4 Lance Palmer (16-2)
157 No. 18 Jason Johnstone (17-7)/ Sean Nemec (18-2)
165 No. 2 Colt Sponseller (21-3)
174 Dave Rella (13-8)
184 No. 2 Mike Pucillo (8-0)
197 Cody Gardner (13-9)
285 No. 17 Corey Morrison (15-8)
A NOTE OF GRATITUDE
At the Ohio State-Indiana dual, the Scarlet and Gray will celebrate the great tradition of Buckeye wrestling, hosting Alumni Day at the league opener.
Ohio State will express its thanks during halftime of the meet. In addition, the first 1,000 fans will receive a free rally towel courtesy of Nationwide and the Buckeyes will host a postgame autograph session.
The Buckeye-Hoosier dual also is the wrestling program’s “Scarlet and Gray” match, a marketing effort that encourages all Ohio State student-athletes to show support of their fellow Buckeyes.
After three weeks on the road, Ohio State follows the Indiana meet with a dual vs. Minnesota at 11 a.m. Sunday in Value City Arena.
Home of the Ohio State men’s and women’s basketball programs, as well as the men’s hockey team, Value City Arena also functions as the site of the Ohio high school wrestling state championships. The dual vs. the Golden Gophers marks the first time in program history the wrestling team will compete at the venue.
SAME PLACE NEW ATMOSPHERE
Although Sunday marks the first time the Ohio State wrestling program will compete at Value City Arena, a plethora of Buckeyes already have experience in the venue.
As the site of the Ohio high school state tournament, 22 Buckeyes have competed at the arena with 15 picking up state titles, including four-time state champions J Jaggers and Lance Palmer, two-time titlists Pat Harrington, Jason Johnstone, Dave Rella and John Weakley, as well as three-time Division II winner Colt Sponseller.
SEE IT FOR YOURSELF
Tickets to Ohio State home matches are $8 for adults and $5 for youth. Children 6 and under and students with a valid BuckID are admitted free. An advanced purchase of 10 or more tickets is $4. To purchase tickets, call TicketMaster at 614-431-3600 or log on to OhioStateBuckeyes.com.
WATCHING FROM HOME
The duals vs. Indiana and Minnesota will be streamed live on OhioStateBuckeyes.com. Click on the Buckeye Vision link on the site’s homepage to access the feed. Sign up for a month subscriptions and catch action from a variety of Ohio State home events.
Come watch the Buckeyes wrestle vs. the Hoosier and students dine for free. Pizza will be available for Ohio State students with a BuckID while supplies last before the match Friday evening.
Luke Fickell, Ohio State linebackers coach and three-time Ohio High School Wrestling State Champion, will serve as the Honorary Captain at the match Friday.
REGISTER TO WIN
Fans can register to win a $50 iTunes gift card as part of the Best Fans in the Land Competition sponsored by the Ohio State Sportsmanship Council at the contest vs. Indiana in St. John Arena. Sign up at the marketing table located on the main concourse.
Sunday vs. Minnesota, fans can register to win a Super Bowl Party Pack, which includes a $30 gift card to BWW’s. (Winners must be present to win)
PACK THE HOUSE
Help the wrestling squad pack Value City Arena and wear white Sunday to “WHITE OUT” the Gophers!
Marcus Freeman and James Laurinaitis, former Buckeye football players, will be the Honorary Captains at the match Sunday.
AGAINST THE HOOSIERS
Ohio State leads the all-time series record vs. Indiana, 43-34-2.
The Buckeyes have won the last two meetings to tally a perfect 2-0 ledger under the guidance of head coach Tom Ryan.
Last time out, Ohio State secured a victory on the road, winning, 20-13, Feb. 1, 2008. In 2007, the Scarlet and Gray stole a 19-14 decision in St. John Arena.
Since 1997, the Buckeyes have won 10 of the last 12 meetings between the two programs. Ohio State fell at home in 2005 and in Bloomington, Ind., in 2006.
ALL TIED UP
Indiana opened conference action, battling Penn State to a 17-all tie last Friday. Each team won five weight classes for the tied outcome.
Fighting back from a 12-0 deficit, Indiana’s Paul Young showed his resilance, downing eighth-ranked Dan Vallimont, 4-1, late in the third period. Hoosier Kurt Kinser scored a 23-8 technical fall over PSU’s Colby Pisani but because he did not record a near fall, he was awarded only four points for the technical fall rather than the ordinary five-point variety that would have given IU the team victory.
Indiana also received a sudden victory from then No. 17 Trevor Perry at 174, a 12-3 major decision from Matt Powless at 197 and a 5-3 decision at heavyweight by Nate Everhart in the tie.
GRAPPLING WITH THE GOPHERS
Ohio State snapped its 13-meet losing streak to Minnesota with its 25-12 win over the Golden Gophers Jan. 11 at the 2009 National Duals, capturing fifth place at the competition.
Heading into the rematch Sunday, Ohio State trails the all-time series record which stands at 13-30-2.
LAST TIME OUT FOR THE GOPHERS
Minnesota decidedly beat conference rival Michigan State, 30-6, at home last Sunday. All-American Jayson Ness upset top-ranked Franklin Gomez at 133 pounds to improve his all-time record in Big Ten duals to a perfect 17-0.
The Golden Gophers built its 24-point spread over the Spartens, receiving a pin from Mike Thorn at 141 pounds and three major decision wins from Zach Sanders (125), Gordon Bierschenk (197) and Ben Berhow (285).
Ohio State is 9-1 in its 2008-09 dual campaign. The Buckeyes hosted the Buckeye Duals Nov. 16 in St. John Arena and defeated Notre Dame College, 34-6, and Cleveland State, 35-13.
Before taking a three-week break, sixth-ranked Ohio State took a trip to Edinboro where it downed the 17th-ranked Fighting Scots, 19-12. The Scarlet and Gray moved to 4-0 Jan. 4 as they defeated instate rival Kent State, 20-15, in St. John Arena.
The Buckeyes then earned fifth at the 2009 National Duals with a 4-1 record at the meet. Ohio State posted a 32-12 victory over No. 21 Northern Iowa before dropping a close 16-17 loss to No. 3 Cornell Jan. 10. The Scarlet and Gray posted a 23-19 upset over No. 5 Missouri and followed with a 21-12 decision vs. No. 16 Boise State to advance to the fifth-place final Jan. 11.
Ohio State concluded the National Duals with a 25-12 win over conference rival Minnesota to secure its fifth-place finish.
After a week off, the Buckeyes hit the mats again, downing No. 20 Hofstra, 19-13, last Sunday in Hempstead, N.Y.
Second-ranked Reece Humphrey earned a key victory for Ohio State against the Pride’s ninth-ranked Lou Ruggirello at 133 pounds. Heading into the match tied at 13-all, the junior Buckeye, who owns an unblemished 19-0 record, battled hard against the Pride’s junior Ruggirello, owner of an impressive 19-2 ledger, for two periods before coming back in the third period to post a 7-4 decision. With the win, Humphrey put Ohio State up, 16-13, with only one weight division remaining en route to the Buckeyes eventual 19-13 win.
BEST OF THE BEST
J Jaggers, the reigning NCAA champion at 141 pounds, was named Collegiate Athlete of the Year by the Greater Cleveland Athletic Sports Commission Jan. 21 in Cleveland.
“To even be nominated for such an award, especially in such a talent-rich area like Cleveland, was an honor and I’m very grateful to have been selected as the top college athlete,” Jaggers, a native of Northfield, Ohio, said. “It was an amazing event and a very special night for everyone involved.”
In his junior campaign, Jaggers went 5-0 at the 2008 NCAA Championships, upsetting Nos. 1, 2 and 3 seeds as the sixth-seed to claim his first national title and earn his second All-America nod March 20-22 in St. Louis.
J Jaggers earned his first Big Ten Wrestler of the Week honor of the 2008-09 season and the second-consecutive for a Buckeye Jan. 13 after he went undefeated at the 2009 National Duals in Cedar Falls, Iowa, helping the Buckeyes to a fifth-place finish.
The reigning NCAA champion at 141 pounds recorded a perfect 5-0 ledger, including two upsets over No. 8 Mike Thorn of conference rival Minnesota and No. 10 Marcus Hoehn of Missouri. Then-ranked 14th in the national polls, the Northfield, Ohio, native secured a 7-2 decision over Thorn, recording a take down, two escapes and a three-point nearfall. Against Hoehn, Jaggers helped the sixth-ranked Buckeyes down No. 5 Missouri, battling to an 8-6 sudden victory.
Against No. 3 Cornell, the senior’s win tied the Buckeyes and Big Red at 13-all, earning an 11-2 major decision over Corey Manson. Jaggers opened the weekend with a 4-3 decision over Trent Washington of host Northern Iowa and added a 3-1 decision over Boise State’s Cory Fish.
Jaggers, a high school graduate from St. Peter Chanel and a communication major at Ohio State, previously received the conference recognition January 2008.
This is the fourth Big Ten weekly honor for the Buckeyes this season and second consecutive for the team. Junior Mike Pucillo, the 2008 NCAA champion at 184, earned his first honor of the season Jan. 6 while junior Reece Humphrey was named wrestler of the week Nov. 4 and senior Corey Morrison picked up his first career honor Dec. 16.
Two Buckeyes – Reece Humphrey (133) and Mike Pucillo (185) – remain undefeated on the season. Humphrey owns a 19-0 overall ledger and 10-0 dual record this season. The junior from Indianapolis won titles at the Buffalo and Wolfpack Opens before going 2-0 at the Buckeye Duals.
On the season, Humphrey has tallied 56 takedowns, the third most for a Buckeye in the 2008-09 season, and has recorded seven pins.
After turning in key decision in Ohio State’s 19-13 win over Hofstra against then ninth-ranked Lou Ruggirello, Humphrey moved up to the top seat in the 133-pound USA Today/InterMat/NWCA standings.
Pucillo, a native of Cuyahoga, Ohio, made his season debut at 185 with a win over 10th-ranked Chris Honeycutt of Edinboro Dec. 14. The junior then recorded his second victory against a ranked opponent in as many tries by holding off Kent State’s sixth-ranked Dustin Kilgore with a 6-1 result Jan. 4 in St. John Arena.
The 2008 NCAA champion at 185, Pucillo is 8-0 this season after both he and Humphrey posted 5-0 records at the 2009 National Duals Jan. 10-11, helping the Buckeyes to a fifth-place finish.
Note Results from the 43rd Annual NWCA All-Star Classic Nov. 24 do not count toward records.
PUCILLO STARTING STRONG
Junior Mike Pucillo was named Big Ten Wrestler of the Week, the conference announced Jan. 6. It was the Cuyahoga, Ohio, native’s first weekly award of the season and the second of his career. Pucillo recorded his second win against a ranked opponent to propel Ohio State over Kent State, 20-15, Jan. 4 to earn the honor.
Pucillo held off No. 6 Dustin Kilgore with two takedowns and an escape in the 6-1 victory at 184 pounds to extend the Buckeye lead to 10-0 early in the dual match. This marked the second win over a ranked opponent for Pucillo, who made his 2008-09 season debut with a win over 10th-ranked Chris Honeycutt of Edinboro on Dec. 14.
Pucillo is on a 34-match win streak after ending the 2007-08 season with 26-consecutive victories.
HAPPY NEW YEAR
With a 9-1 dual record, the Buckeyes would like to continue their winning trend in the New Year. In the 88-year history of the program, Ohio State has amassed a 293-161-7 (.640) record in the month of January. In 2001 (13-0) and 1981 (6-0), the Buckeyes compiled perfect records during the first 31 days of the year.
JOHNSTONE PROPELS BUCKEYES TO 20-15 VICTORY OVER KENT STATE
Ohio State opened the New Year with a 20-15 win over Kent State Jan. 4 in St. John Arena. The Buckeyes came back from a 13-15 score going into the final two matches to hold off the Golden Flashes.
The Buckeyes began their rally at 149 when fourth-ranked Lance Palmer defeated Clint Sponseller, Ohio State’s Colt Sponseller’s brother, in a 9-0 major decision and gave the Buckeye a 17-15 lead going into the final match.
In the final match, Ohio State’s No. 15 Jason Johnstone and Ross Tice battled at 157 for the outright team victory. Tice opened the match with a take down, but Johnstone took the lead after an escape and a take down to give him a 2-1 lead to end the first period. The second period ended with a 6-2 score in Ohio State’s favor. The match ended with a total of three take downs for Johnstone in a 9-3 victory and sealed the win for the Buckeyes.
In the first two matches, two members of the Buckeye squad won in major decisions and gave Ohio State an early lead. In 165, Colt Sponseller defeated Obie Simpson and posted five take downs to finish with a final 12-4 score. In 184, top-ranked Mike Pucillo held off No. 6 Dustin Kilgore with a 6-1 win to extend Ohio State’s lead to 10-0. Pucillo recorded two take downs and an escape.
AND THE WINNER IS
Heavyweight Corey Morrison was the recipient of the Big Ten Wrestler of the Week honor Dec. 16. Morrison earned the award after decisioning No. 8 Joey Fendone, 5-3, of 17th-ranked Edinboro in the match-deciding bout. The Buckeyes won, 19-12, to move to 3-0 on the season. Morrison also handed Fendone his first loss of the season.
Reece Humphrey was the Buckeyes’ first weekly award honoree for 2008-09. Humphrey won the conference laurel Nov. 4 after winning four matches to claim the 133-pound division in the Buffalo Open title.
HONORED BY THEMAT.COM
Colt Sponseller was TheMat.com Wrestler of the Week following his match-changing performance against Edinboro’s third-ranked Jarrod King at 165 pounds. With Ohio State trailing the Fighting Scots, 9-7, Sponseller’s 4-1 victory over King led the way toward the Buckeye win. Like Fendone, King was undefeated before his encounter with Sponseller.
Sophomore Colt Sponseller leads the Buckeyes with 106 takedowns. Jason Johnstone is second on the team with 58, while Reece Humphrey rounds out the Top 3 with 56.
Sean Nemec, who saw his first action in dual competition at Edinboro, is first on the team in major decisions with six. Johnstone and Dave Rella are tied for second on the team with four. Sponseller also paces the squad with five technical falls and Nikko Triggas is the team leader in falls with nine.
A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES
Sophomore Colt Sponseller already surpassed his win total from a season ago. Forced to sit out the beginning of the 2007-08 season because of injury, Sponseller would end that campaign with a 16-4 record. In 2008-09, Sponseller already has totaled 21 wins, with just three losses.
The Glenmont, Ohio, native leads Ohio State with 106 takedowns while also recording five technical falls and four pins.
LAS VEGAS INVITATIONAL
Lance Palmer and Colt Sponseller had successful runs at the 27th Annual Cliff Keen Las Vegas Wrestling Invitational Dec. 5-6, finishing second at 149 and 165 pounds, respectively.
Palmer encountered a tough draw in the final in No. 3 and 2008 NWCA All-Star Darrion Cald well from NC State. Palmer was pinned in 1:05.
Looking to run the table at the invite, Sponseller suffered his first loss of the season (15-1) when he lost in the final to Cornell’s No. 1-ranked Mack Lewnes, a 2008 NWCA All-Star.
As a team, the Buckeyes finished 11th (tied) with 67.5 points.
DOWN YOU GO
Of Nikko Triggas’ nine pins, five have been under two minutes, including a 40-second pin vs. Pete Cole of Alfred State in the Buffalo Open. Triggas owns a team-best nine pins on the season.
Nikko Triggas Pins (under two minutes)
:40 vs. Pete Cole (Alfred State)
1:17 vs. PJ Morales (Edinboro)
1:51 vs. Lou Ruland (Maryland)
1:09 vs. Michael Moreno (NC State)
1:43 vs. Brad Steele (Dickinson State)
With his 21-second pin of RPI’s Dwight Manganaro in the Buffalo Open, freshman Dalton Britt owns the fastest fall time on the team. In second place is sophomore Nikko Triggas with a 40-second pin of Pete Cole of Alfred State, also recorded at the Buffalo Open.
Both of Lance Palmer’s losses this season have come at the hands of NC State’s Darrion Caldwell. Palmer, who owns a 15-2 record, faced Caldwell in the final of the NC State Open and dropped a tight 2-1 decision. Palmer then encountered Caldwell again in the final of the Las Vegas Invitational and was pinned in 1:05.
In his junior campaign, the Columbia Station, Ohio, native has racked up 20 takedowns, six pins and two major decisions, owning a perfect 8-0 dual record.
Sophomore Colt Sponseller has recorded a team-best 12 takedowns in three separate matches this season. He did it in back-to-back contests in the Buffalo Open vs. Matt Coleman of Edinboro (W, 25-10) and Cory Lempka of Buffalo (W, 25-10). The following week in the Wolfpack Open, Sponseller recorded 12 takedowns against Maryland’s Josh Asper (W, 26-10).
Senior Jason Johnstone accumulated 10 takedowns in a 26-10 technical fall win over Corey Carlo of Cleveland State in the Buckeye Duals.
UPDATE ON THE STANDINGS
In the latest USA Today/InterMat/NWCA rankings (Jan. 27), Ohio State remains at No. 5 in the country.
Nine Buckeyes are ranked in the Top 20 of the individual standings.
Weight Wrestler W.I.N. InterMat 125 Nikko Triggas 20th – 133 Reece Humphrey 1st 1st 141 JJaggers 6th 12th 149 LancePalmer 4th 4th 157 JasonJohnstone 18th 18th 165 ColtSponseller 4th 2nd 184 MikePucillo 2nd 2nd 285 CoreyMorrison 18th 17th
BIG TEN NETWORK COVERAGE
Two of the Buckeyes’ matches will air on the Big Ten Network. Ohio State’s match at Michigan Feb. 13 will broadcast the same day on a tape delay basis at 10:30 p.m. The match’s start time is 7 p.m. in Cliff Keen Arena.
The Ohio State vs. Wisconsin dual will air live at 2 p.m. Feb. 22 in Madison, Wis., in the Wisconsin Field House.
REECE HUMPHREY NAMED CONFERENCE WRESTLER OF THE WEEK
Reece Humphrey, a 133-pound junior from Indianapolis, Ind., was named the Big Ten Conference co-Wrestler of the Week Nov. 4 following his championship performance at the Buffalo Open Nov. 2.
Humphrey won four matches at the event as the No. 1 seed by pinning two of his opponents and winning by a technical fall and decision. He began the day with a pin of Kevin Green of Niagara in 5:50 and then followed that performance with a 25-10 technical fall over Michael Baxter of Mercyhurst College. Humphrey then faced teammate and fifth-seed Garrett Henry in the semifinals and made quick work of the rookie from Solon, Ohio, pinning Henry in 3:28 en route to the final. In the championship bout, Humphrey decisioned Kevin Smith of host Buffalo, 9-5, for the title.
It is the first-career weekly laurel for the product of Lawrence North High School and the first for the Buckeyes since J Jaggers earned the honor Jan. 30, 2008.
NICE START TO THE YEAR
Ohio State began its season at two open tournaments. The Buckeyes made the trip to Buffalo, N.Y., for the Buffalo Open Nov. 2 and had a phenomenal meet, crowning six champions. A week later, Ohio State made its way south for the Wolfpack Open in Raleigh, N.C., Nov. 8 and completed the tournament with four title winners.
Junior Reece Humphrey (133), senior Jason Johnstone (157), sophomore Colt Sponseller (165) and freshman Cody Gardner (197) were double winners as they won their respective weight classes at both opens. In Buffalo, Dave Rella (174) and Corey Morrison (HWT) also won titles of their own.
The Buckeyes return three All-Americans from last season. J Jaggers (141) and Mike Pucillo (184), 2008 NCAA Champions, and Lance Palmer (149) are back for another season in 2008-09.
Overall, Ohio State boasts six NCAA qualifiers from a season ago. In addition to Jaggers, Pucillo and Palmer, Nikko Triggas is back at 125 pounds, as is 133-pounder Reece Humphrey and Jason Johnstone (157).
NEW TO THE STAFF
Former Buckeyes J.D. Bergman and Alex Picazo joined the wrestling support staff this past summer. Bergman (2004-08) is the team’s assistant marketing director and Picazo (2004-08) is the director of operations and strength and conditioning coach.
DON’T MISS OUT!
Throughout the season, there will be several giveaways and events for fans to take part in at home matches.
5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 8
Meet the Buckeyes in a postgame autograph session with select wrestlers.
2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 15
Meet the Buckeyes in a postgame autograph session with select wrestlers
TOUGH ROAD AHEAD
Ten of the Buckeyes’ opponents, not counting ranked challengers in the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals in January, are ranked in the latest edition of the USA Today/NWCA/InterMat Top 25 poll.
All eight of the Buckeyes’ league opponents are ranked in the Top 25. Ohio State will battle No. 19T Indiana (Jan. 30), No. 10 Minnesota (Feb. 1), No. 25 Purdue (Feb. 8) and No. 7T Illinois (Feb. 15) in Columbus. The match vs. the Gophers will take place in Value City Arena at the Jerome Schottenstein Center. The Scarlet and Gray will travel to No. 16 Penn State (Feb. 6), No. 18 Michigan (Feb. 13), No. 19T Northwestern (Feb. 20) and No. 17 Wisconsin (Feb. 22).
The team again fits two dual meets into a weekend but this time begins the weekend on the road with a Big Ten Conference matchup vs. No. 16 Penn State at 7 p.m. Feb. 6 in State College, Pa.
The Buckeyes then return home to St. John Arena for a 5 p.m. matchup vs. No. 25 Purdue on Feb. 8.