March 19-21, 2009
2009 NCAA Championships
St. Louis, Mo.
2009 NCAA Qualifiers
125 – Nikko Triggas (20-15; 4-4 Big Ten)
133 – No. 4 Reece Humphrey (26-3; 4-2 Big Ten)
141 – No. 13 J Jaggers (23-8; 6-2 Big Ten)
149 – No. 4 Lance Palmer (26-3; 6-0 Big Ten)
157 – No. 18 Jason Johnstone (20-12; 2-3 Big Ten)
165 – No. 3 Colt Sponseller (30-6; 7-1 Big Ten))
174 – Dave Rella (20-14; 5-3 Big Ten)
184 – No. 2 Mike Pucillo (19-1; 8-0 Big Ten)
285 – Corey Morrison (19-14; 4-4 Big Ten)
Play-by-play – Dave Armstrong
Analysts – Tim Johnson and Jeff Blatnick
Reporter – Quint Kessenich
Play-by-play – Shawn Kenney
Analyst – Jim Gibbons
11 a.m. ET
Quarterfinals: ESPNU and ESPN360.com
7 p.m. ET
Semifinals: ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN360.com
10:30 a.m. ET
Championship Medal Round: ESPNU and ESPN360.com
6:30 p.m. ET
Finals: ESPN and ESPN360.com
COLUMBUS, Ohio The sixth-ranked Ohio State wrestling team will send nine contenders to the 2009 NCAA Championships at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo.
The Buckeyes, runners-up from a season ago with seven qualifiers, will make a run for the national title in the three-day event that begins Thursday.
2009 NCAA Championships schedule
Thursday, March 19
Session I – noon ET
Session II – 7:30 p.m. ET
Friday, March 20
Session III – 11 a.m. ET
Session IV – 7 p.m. ET
Saturday, March 21
Session V – 10:30 a.m. ET
Session VI – 6:30 p.m. ET
ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN360.com will provide 11 hours of coverage of the 79th annual NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships beginning at 11 a.m. ET March 20 with quarterfinal action on ESPNU and ESPN360.com. Later that day at 7 p.m., ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN360.com will broadcast the semifinals.
The following day March 21, ESPNU and ESPN360.com will air the championship medal round before ESPN takes over for the finals at 6:30 p.m.
Dave Armstrong will serve as the play-by-play commentator, while Tim Johnson and Jeff Blatnick will provide analysis. Quint Kessenich will report from matside.
Shawn Kenney (play-by-play) and Jim Gibbons will be on call for ESPN360.com.
After the Big Ten championships March 7-8, the Buckeyes qualified six wrestlers in the following weight classes 133, 141, 149, 165, 174 and 184. The Scarlet and Gray received at-large bids at 125 and 157 pounds and heavyweight.
At the Big Ten championships, Reece Humphrey (133), J Jaggers (141), Lance Palmer (149), Colt Sponseller (165), Dave Rella (174) and Mike Pucillo (184) solidified their spots in the NCAA championships.
Humphrey, a native of Indianapolis, Ind., was the 133-pound runner up, a career-best performance at the league championships. The junior enters nationals with a 26-3 record.
For the second-consecutive season, Jaggers placed in the Top 3 amongst his conference counterparts with a third-place finish. With a 23-7 overall record, the defending national champion at 141 pounds will again look to run the table at the NCAA championships after finishing third at the Big Ten championships in 2008.
Palmer (27-3) recorded a career-best third-place finish at the Big Ten championships. After losing his first-round match, Palmer, a junior from Columbia Station, Ohio, won four-consecutive matches. Palmer will be seeking his third All-America honor in 2009.
Sponseller, a sophomore from Glenmont, Ohio, was fourth at the conference championships. After missing out on nationals as a freshman, Sponseller will make his debut on the national stage with a 30-6 record.
At 174 pounds, Rella will return to nationals, this time for the Buckeyes as he transferred from Penn State in 2008. The junior from Akron, Ohio, was a fifth-place finisher at the conference championships and enters the NCAA championships with a 20-13 ledger.
With a third-place finish at 184 pounds, Pucillo will look to defend his NCAA title in St. Louis. The Strongsville, Ohio, native owned a 43-match win streak entering the Big Ten championships, but it was snapped in the semifinals. He will begin his national title run with a 19-1 record.
Receiving at-large bids are Nikko Triggas (125), Jason Johnstone (157) and Corey Morrison (HWT).
Triggas is 20-15 after suffering early losses in the Big Ten championships. Johnstone too bowed out of competition at the conference championships early, but will contend for a national title after amassing a 20-12 mark. Morrison will make his debut on the national stage with 19 wins and 13 losses.
WELCOME TO THE SHOW
Of Ohio State’s nine qualifiers, two will be making their debut on the national stage. Sophomore Colt Sponseller and redshirt-junior Corey Morrison will represent the 165 pound and heavyweight classes, respectively.
With a fourth-place league finish at the Big Ten championships, Sponseller solidified his bid to nationals. Morrison was picked as an at-large choice.
EIGHT IS NOT ENOUGH
Tom Ryan is the only Buckeye head coach to have eight All-America selections in his first two years. In 2007, J.D. Bergman, J Jaggers, Lance Palmer and Mike Pucillo earned All-America honors and the same quartet repeated the accomplishment in 2008.
With nine NCAA qualifiers, Ohio State will seek to add to its list of 65 All-America selections. Under third-year head coach Tom Ryan, the Buckeyes have eight All-America selections to their credit, including 2008 national champions J Jaggers and Mike Pucillo.
A LOOK BACK AT A HISTORICAL 2008
J Jaggers and Mike Pucillo were crowned 2008 NCAA National Champions to give the Buckeyes their first individual national championship since 2004. Senior heavyweight J.D. Bergman was a NCAA runner-up and sophomore Lance Palmer finished eighth, giving the Buckeyes four All-Americans for the second-consecutive year. As a team, Ohio State finished second with 79 points. The second-place finish is the best standing for the Buckeyes in program history. Ohio State’s previous best was third (tie) in 2004.
The Buckeyes never had three finalists in the NCAA championships prior to 2008. In 1993, the Scarlet and Gray advanced two wrestlers to the finals in 1993 national champion and two-time All-American Rex Holman and two-time national champion and three-time All-American Kevin Randleman. Ohio State and Iowa were the only programs in the 2008 edition of the championships to qualify three finalists.
Jaggers, a redshirt-junior, became the first 2008 champion for the Buckeyes, defeating No. 1-seed Chad Mendes of Cal Poly, 5-2, at 141 pounds. After a scoreless first period, Jaggers scored an escape early in the second to take a slim 1-0 lead. However, Mendes responded with an escape of his own in the final period to tie the score at 1-1, but Jaggers countered with a takedown with 45 seconds left and followed with a two-point nearfall at the 37-second mark to go up 5-1. Jaggers was forced to take an injury timeout with just 16 seconds remaining after suffering an ankle injury and despite giving up an escape to Mendes, held on for the victory.
No. 6 Jaggers dec. Nexi Delgado (UC Davis), 13-10
No. 6 Jaggers dec. Drew Headlee (Pittsburgh), 7-2
No. 6 Jaggers dec. No. 3 Kellen Russell (Michigan), 5-3
No. 6 Jaggers dec. No. 2 Charles Griffin (Hofstra), 11-9
No. 6 Jaggers dec. No. 1 Chad Mendes (Cal Poly), 5-2
At 184 pounds, Pucillo, a redshirt-sophomore, clinched the second-place team finish for the Buckeyes when he downed No. 1-seed Jake Varner of Iowa State on a tiebreaking riding time advantage of six seconds. In the two wrestlers’ first-ever collegiate meeting, they went scoreless after the first period. After taking the down position, Pucillo scored an escape early in the second stanza, but Varner, who was the 2007 runner-up, evened the score on an escape of his own in the third period. With the score knotted at one apiece, Pucillo and Varner went into two sudden victories and tiebreaking sessions before Pucillo won on the riding time.
No. 2 Pucillo mdec. Ian Murphy (Cal State Fullerton), 11-2
No. 2 Pucillo mdec. Ryan Goodman (N.C. State), 14-1
No. 2 Pucillo dec. No. 7 Phil Keddy (Iowa), 4-3
No. 2 Pucillo dec. No. 6 Raymond Jordan (Missouri), 2-1TB2
No. 2 Pucillo dec. No. 1 Jake Varner (Iowa State), 3-3 RT :06
In his third matchup of the season against Northwestern’s No. 1-seed Dustin Fox, Bergman dropped a 4-2 decision in the final. All three of Bergman’s losses on the season came from Fox. With the score tied, 1-1, at the end of the third period, the match was forced into overtime. Neither wrestler could score in the sudden victory period, but each grappler tacked on an escape in both 30-second tiebreakers. It was in the second sudden victory Fox scored a takedown to win his second-consecutive national championship.
No. 2 Bergman pinned Patrick Walker (Liberty), :37 seconds
No. 2 Bergman dec. Joe Fendone (Edinboro), 6-3
No. 2 Bergman mdec. No. 7 David Zabriskie (Iowa State), 11-1
No. 2 Bergman dec. No. 3 Ed Prendergast (Navy), 5-4
No. 1 Dustin Fox (Northwestern) dec. No. 2 Bergman, 4-2
At 149 pounds, Lance Palmer became a two-time All-American. In the seventh-place matchup, Palmer dropped a 3-2 decision to No. 2-seed Dustin Schlatter of Minnesota.
No. 9 Palmer mdec. Kyle Larson (Oregon State), 14-3
No. 9 Palmer mdec. No. 8 Jake Patacsil (Purdue), 14-6
No.1 Brent Metcalf (Iowa) dec. No. 9 Palmer, 3-2
No. 9 Palmer mdec. Brandon Carter (Central Michigan), 11-3
No. 5 Josh Churella (Michigan) dec. No. 9 Palmer, 6-2
No. 2 Dustin Schlatter (Minnesota) dec. No. 9 Palmer, 3-2TB
2009 BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIPS
With a runner-up and a trio of third-place finishers, Ohio State ended the 2009 Big Ten Championships in sixth place with 80 points March 8 at the Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, Pa. Junior Reece Humphrey paced the Buckeyes with a runner-up finish at 133 pounds. Humphrey, the fifth seed, met a familiar opponent in No. 2 seed Franklin Gomez of Michigan State in the final. The two battled through a sudden victory and tiebreaker before Gomez clipped Humphrey by a 7-4 score.
For the second-consecutive year, J Jaggers earned a third-place standing at 141 pounds, decisioning third-ranked Alex Tsirtsis of Iowa, 4-3. En route to the third-place bout, Jaggers, a native of Northfield, Ohio, dropped Northwestern’s and sixth-seed Keith Sulzer in 4:20.
No. 3 Lance Palmer became the second Buckeye to garner a Top 3 finish in the 149-pound bracket when he beat Jake Patacsil of Purdue, 12-3. The Buckeye from Columbia Station, Ohio, began the day with a 7-4 decision over fourth-seed Kyle Ruschell of Wisconsin.
After suffering his first defeat in 44 matches, No. 2 seed and 184-pounder Mike Pucillo rebounded on day two with a pair of victories for third place. Eric Cameron of Indiana was only able to score one point in a 12-1 win by Pucillo in his opening match of the day. A native of Strongsville, Ohio, Pucillo capped the afternoon with a 4-1 win over No. 4 Jordan Blanton of Illinois.
Colt Sponseller (165) and Dave Rella (174) finished the 2009 edition of the conference championships in fourth and fifth place, respectively.
The No. 2 seed, Sponseller downed Illinois’ and fourth seed Roger Smith-Bergsrud, 7-2, to advance to the third-place match. However, Sponseller dropped a 7-4 decision to No. 6 seed Dan Vallimont of host Penn State.
After losing his opening match of session three to No. 2 Jay Borschel of Iowa, 7-0, Rella answered with a 5-2 win over No. 6 Trevor Perry of Indiana.
For the second-consecutive season, junior Mike Pucillo finished the Big Ten regular-season schedule with a perfect 8-0 record. As a 2008 NCAA Champion, Pucillo compiled an overall record of 34-1, including a dual mark of 21-0. In 2008-09, Pucillo has recorded a 19-1 overall mark and 16-0 dual ledger.
Head coach Tom Ryan, who earned his 150th career win vs. Illinois Feb. 15, led the Buckeyes to seven wins in the Big Ten following a 24-18 victory over Wisconsin Feb. 22. The 2008-09 Buckeyes are the first squad to compile seven conference wins since 1991-92.
SAVING THE BEST FOR LAST
With his 6-2 decision over Ben Jordan of Wisconsin Feb. 22 to wrap up the Big Ten regular season, senior Jason Johnstone earned his 20th victory of 2008-09, a career best.
Head coach Tom Ryan reached the 150-win plateau following Ohio State’s 26-13 victory over Illinois Feb. 15. In 14 seasons as a head coach, Ryan has compiled a 152-96-1 record (.610). Prior to arriving on the Ohio State campus, Ryan coached at Hofstra for 11 seasons and amassed a 109-83-1 record. So far, as the Buckeye head coach, Ryan is 43-13 (.768).
With the 26-13 win against Illinois Feb. 15, Ohio State snapped a 10-match win streak by the Illini. Before their most recent victory, the Buckeyes’ last win against Illinois was Feb. 13, 1994 in Columbus. Ohio State’s last road win was Jan. 25, 1991.
Last season, Ohio State came up short by one point, falling, 19-18, in Champaign.
After dropping 14-consecutive matches to Michigan, Ohio State now has won consecutive meetings. The Buckeyes snapped the Wolverines’ 14-year stronghold last season with a 16-15 win in St. John Arena in Columbus. This season, the Scarlet and Gray bettered the Maize and Blue, 26-17, in Ann Arbor.
Sophomore Nikko Triggas recorded back-to-back pins during the weekend of Feb. 13-15 for a then team-leading 12 pins on the season. He needed just 5:38 to down both his opponents. With the Buckeyes down, 14-11, against the Wolverines, Triggas pinned 17th-ranked Michael Watts in 2:02 to give Ohio State its first lead of the match. Triggas followed that performance with another critical pin of B.J. Futrell of Illinois in the Buckeyes’ home finale. Ohio State held a slim 14-10 lead after consecutive losses at 197 pounds and heavyweight and just three matches remaining. Triggas increased the Buckeye margin to 20-10 when he downed Futrell in 3:36 after finishing the first period against Futrell trailing, 4-2.
A LITTLE BIT OF THIS, A LITTLE BIT OF THAT
Colt Sponseller recorded his team-leading 30th win (6 losses) at the Big Ten championships. Mike Pucillo, who finished the regular season undefeated at 16-0, is 19-1 overall. For the second-consecutive season, Pucillo concluded his conference ledger 8-0. Junior Lance Palmer also wrapped up the regular-season league schedule undefeated (6-0).
Ohio State finished the regular season with a 16-2 overall record, including a 7-1 mark in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes earned wins against 13 Top 25 teams No. 17 Edinboro (19-12), No. 21 Northern Iowa (32-12), No. 5 Missouri (23-19), No. 16 Boise State (21-12), No. 11 Minnesota (25-12), No. 20 Hofstra (19-13), No. 19 Indiana (18-16), No. 22 Penn State (33-7), No. 25 Purdue (28-10), No. 17 Michigan (26-17), No. 8 Illinois (26-13), No. 19 Northwestern (23-18) and No. 16 Wisconsin (24-18).
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 a special ceremony 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 the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 seeds as the sixth-seed to claim his first national title and earn his second All-America nod.
In 2008-09, Ohio State collected five Big Ten Wrestler of the Week honors. Junior Reece Humphrey garnered the Buckeyes’ first laurel back in November following his championship performance in the 133-pound division 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.
Junior Corey Morrison became the Scarlet and Gray’s second recipient Dec. 16 after he decisioned eighth-ranked Joey Fendone, 5-3, of 17th-ranked Edinboro in the match-deciding bout at heavyweight. With the win, Morrison handed Fendone his first loss of the season.
Teammate Mike Pucillo earned the conference honor Jan. 6 when he held off sixth-ranked Dustin Kilgore of Kent State with a pair of takedowns and an escape in the 6-1 victory at 184 pounds.
After posting a 5-0 record, including upsets over the Nos. 8 and 10 wrestlers in the country at the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals at 141 pounds, senior J Jaggers received the weekly honor Jan. 13.
The Big Ten named sophomore Nikko Triggas the wrestler of the week (Feb. 17) after he recorded back-to-back pins against Michigan and Illinois.
Sophomore Colt Sponseller was named TheMat.com’s wrestler of the week Dec. 15 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. King was undefeated before his encounter with Sponseller.