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The Ohio State wrestling team has started its journey to the 2009 Big Ten Championships in University Park, Pa. The bus pulled away at 2:30 p.m. Thursday and took its first stop for lunch at 3 p.m. After filling their stomachs and grabbing a deck of cards, the long trip was finally underway.

Throughout the trip, junior Corey Morrison will keep fans updated from the road on the events surrounding the Big Ten Championships. 

Corey signing off:
So … Saturday wasn’t too much fun – for me at least. I lost two-straight matches and was swiftly escorted out of the tournament to the spectator section. Waiting for me was Nikko (Triggas), (Jason) Johnstone and Cody (Gardner). So, four Buckeyes go “two and out” and the hopes to win the Big Ten tournament as a team left with us. The tornado of bad luck continued with losses in every weight class but 133 on Saturday. So, it’s safe to say all of us were pretty upset last night and were awaiting our next chance to compete and win.

Luckily, the sun rose this morning and six guys had a chance to redeem themselves and Ohio State. Reece (Humphrey) placed second, (Dave) Rella placed fifth and Colt (Sponseller) finished fourth. J (Jaggers), Mikey (Pucillo) and Lance (Palmer) took third. While Saturday was not how we would have like it, there was still some hope for Sunday. There was a hope for making nationals because we have six wrestlers automatically going and four on the bubble – who have a good chance. With a little luck, we will have a team at nationals that can still accomplish the goal of WINNING nationals. All I can do now is cross my fingers and pray to I will be picked to go.

The Big Ten Network is an amazing thing! It’s so cool people have access to our matches and our world. The commentating is great with knowledgeable commentators who help the fans at home follow the action. My family doesn’t have a clue about wrestling, but with the Big Ten Network they were calling me and talking wrestling. They knew about the rankings, rules and everything a fan needs to know to follow the sport. It’s great. Thanks fam for the support! I love you so much. It means a lot that you follow me through the Big Ten Network. 

Now, we are back on the bus again and what’s done is done. Everybody just hung out on the ride home. Alex Picazo showed a couple of guys a Spanish soap opera that he starred in and directed. It’s called Spanish Five Soap Opera Telenovele and it is hilarious. Well, it has been fun blogging. Ironically, I had my worst tournament yet, but I won’t blame the blog. Hope you guys enjoyed this and our season and I hope to do it again…GO BUCKS!     

Editor’s note: Session One of 2009 Big Ten Championships
The team met in the hotel lobby bright and early at 7:45 a.m. to head over to the Bryce Jordan Center for day one of the 2009 Big Ten Championships. Spirits were high and the energy was up as the squad was ready to begin the tournament and claim a first-place finish. 

Sophomore Nikko Triggas started off championship action in the 125 pound bracket, but fell short to Purdue’s Matt Fields with an 8-3 decision. At 133 pounds, junior Reece Humphrey claimed two victories to advance to the semifinals in session one. Humphrey started the day with a fall in 6:21 against Northwestern’s Eric Metzler. In the quarterfinals, he recorded an 11-4 decision over Minnesota’s and fourth-seed Jayson Ness. 

At 141 pounds, senior J Jaggers opened his final Big Ten championships with a 5-1 decision over Michigan State’s Collin Dozier. Jaggers ended session two with a 12-3 major decision against Michael Thorn of Minnesota, who is a fourth seed. In the 149 pound bracket, junior Lance Palmer ended session one 0-1 after falling short to Andrew Nadhir of Northwestern in a 9-8 decision that extended into a tiebreaker. Senior Jason Johnstone ended session one with an equal record to Palmer after a 6-2 loss to Ben Jordan of Wisconsin.

At 165 pounds, sophomore Colt Sponseller gained a match victory for Ohio State with a 10-4 decision over Paul Young of Indiana. Junior Dave Rella, at 174 pounds, fell to Illinois’ John Dergo in a close 3-2 decision. 

Junior Mike Pucillo stretched his win streak to 17-consecutive matches this season with a fall (1:21) over Nick Palmieri of Michigan State in the 184 pound weight class.

Freshman Cody Gardner, at 197 pounds, fell to Penn State’s Logan Brown in an 11-3 major decision. Junior heavyweight Corey Morrison closed out session one for Ohio State. Kyle Massey of Wisconsin took the win over Morrison with a 6-0 decision.

Session one flew by with Ohio State finishing with 37 points in fifth place. Iowa led the way with 81 points. Illinois posted 53.5 points to take second, followed by Wisconsin (47) and Penn State in fourth with 38 points.

With four hours until session two began, the Buckeyes took the short drive back to the hotel for a little rest and relaxation. Looking ahead to session two, Ohio State is optimistic and feeling ready to get back to action. 

Editor’s note: Friday morning
A breakfast lover’s dream the complimentary breakfast was provided this morning for the team, consisting of waffles, sausage, cereal, pastries, juices, muffins and fruit. Rested and feeling refreshed, the team will enjoy a light morning and meet at 1 p.m. in the lobby to head to its first team workout of the trip.

Corey on Friday evening:
After we arrived last night around 9 p.m. most of the guys went to sleep, but a few others and I went to dinner. A good meal after a long trip was exactly what I needed and I slept well with positive thoughts running through my head. The scheduled workout for today was not until 1 p.m., so I had all morning to myself. I ate a solid complimentary breakfast while catching up with the world news. The great thing about long trips is the countless hours in front of the TV that has no fun channels, only ones talking about the current crisis this country is going through. Being mentally stimulated, I read a play for my acting class and finished other assignments for Italian literature. All of this while my roommate laid motionlessly asleep.

At 1 p.m. we went to workout. It wasn’t structured, just an open practice in order to meet the needs of all the wrestlers. When we got there, we found some foam noodles and it turned into slap fest 2009. We chased each other around and smacked each other with them. It was a great way to warm up. The work out was very short and was meant for us to feel good for tomorrow. During the rest of the scheduled practice, we goofed around dancing, joking and showing off our limbo skills. Alex Picazo is the champ of the limbo with the bar placed as high as his knees. No one even came close to that height…and he weighs 200 pounds. 

Team dinner was great, at least for the kids who could eat, and we found out our first-round match-ups for tomorrow. Now, everybody is doing their last minute weight cuts. As the heavy weight, I’m shoving my last few meals in me so I can be as monstrous as possible. The team is very confident and prepared and most of all relaxed. Because when we have fun we win, so tomorrow we plan on having a lot of fun. 

Editor’s note: Friday
The time spent between breakfast and our meeting time at 1 p.m. was very relaxing. It was a perfect March day in Pennsylvania with the weather in the 60’s. With the morning off, the team slept, enjoyed hours of television and worked on homework until the time to meet in the lobby arrived.

It was a short drive to the work out center and the guys were ready to get back on the mats. They shared a few good battles with lime green foam noodles, laughed and had a fun final team practice. The atmosphere was light and happy and by the end of their “work out” everybody was ready for dinner.

A team meeting was scheduled for an half hour later after dinner and the squad took one last look back on the season they had gone through. Coach Ryan reminded each person to look at the sacrifices they have made throughout their years as wrestlers and what it took to make it to this point. Each sacrifice was compared to throwing something into a bag on their backs. Now, heading into the Big Ten championships, after throwing objects in for many years, their bags are full. Every ounce of effort they put in, every work out, every hardship they endured brought them here and it is their time to show the world what they can be.

Corey from the bus to Penn State (Thursday afternoon):
Today we left for Big Ten Championships at Penn State. Henry Cejudo, 2008 Olympic Champion in Freestyle, spoke to us before we pulled out of Steelwood. He delivered the message that this weekend is not about previous wins and losses but about who is most mentally prepared to win. He told us as long as we believe in ourselves, we will be able to accomplish our goals. With the long wait until matches start Saturday, we have time to get mentally prepared for the intense weekend.

There is excitement around the team because it is championship season. The Ohio High School State Championships are this weekend in Columbus. The high school kids’ excitement has pumped me up for our own trip. The kids helped me realize that I’m not just representing Ohio State but also my high school, hometown and all of Ohio wrestling.

It’s a long trip on the bus, so we try to keep ourselves entertained. Some guys watch movies, others play cards but most of the guys play a game called Mofia. It’s a game Coach Heskett introduced and it is a very intense game that takes forever to complete.

I’m looking forward to getting to Penn State tonight and getting a light workout in to get the stiffness of the trip out of me. Tomorrow will be the last day to get ready for the big show, so I’m excited.

Editor’s note: Thursday evening
The team arrived to the hotel around 8:30 p.m. After a long six hour drive, everybody was quite eager to stretch their legs. The wait to finally head to the rooms took a little bit longer than expected because of a mix-up at the hotel, but in the end, we finally made it to our rooms.
 
A little after 9 p.m., nine members of the traveling party headed over to Outback for an evening “snack.” The snack consisted of three blooming onions, a few plates of chicken wings and of course steak and mashed potatoes. Many laughs and wrestling stories later, the nine member crew literally “closed down the place.” Now, it was time for lights out and a good nights rest before the first practice tomorrow.