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COLUMBUS, Ohio For the third time in four matches, sophomore Nikko Triggas recorded a crucial pin to lift the No. 6 Ohio State wrestling team to a 24-18 victory over No. 16 Wisconsin Sunday in the UW Field House in Madison.

With Ohio State trailing the Badgers, 12-10, Triggas propelled the Buckeyes to a 16-12 advantage with three matches remaining. The Buckeye from Moraga, Calif., downed Drew Hammen in 2:22 for his team-leading 13th pin of the season at 125 pounds.

Ohio State concludes the regular season with a 16-2 overall record, including a 7-1 mark in the Big Ten. Wisconsin falls to 9-8 overall and 3-5 in the conference.

Ohio State won the next two matches, including a victory at 133 pounds that would seal the Buckeye win. Junior Reece Humphrey gave the Scarlet and Gray a 20-12 advantage and he almost had the team’s second pin of the day, but settled for the 13-3 major decision over Tom Kelliher. Up 5-2 at the end of the first period and 7-3 following the second, the Buckeye from Indianapolis, Ind., accumulated back points in the third and riding time (2:09) for his 23rd win of the season.

With the match beginning at 157 pounds, senior Jason Johnstone set the Buckeyes up with an early 3-0 lead on a 6-2 decision over Ben Jordan. The native of Massillon, Ohio, who his ranked 17th in the country, began the bout with a takedown at the 2:03 mark. Ending the first period with a 2-0 lead, Johnstone added an escape after choosing down to go up 3-0. He then recorded another takedown for a 5-0 advantage before relinquishing an escape to Jordan as time expired in the period. Jordan chose bottom to begin the final period and notched the early escape, but that was the final scoring in the match as Johnstone also accumulated a riding time of 2:20 for the extra point.

The Badgers wasted little time in evening the score at 3-all when eighth-ranked Andrew Howe upset No. 2 Colt Sponseller, 3-2, at 165 pounds. The loss is Sponseller’s first this season in Big Ten dual action as he concludes the conference regular season 7-1. After a scoreless first period, Sponseller quickly got on the board with an escape, but Howe answered with a takedown to take a 2-1 advantage. The Buckeye sophomore from Glenmont, Ohio, ended the period with an escape of his own to bring the bout to a 2-2 tie. With Howe choosing down, he managed the escape and held on the rest of the way for the win.

Junior Dave Rella put the Scarlet and Gray back on top at 6-3 when he decisioned Travis Rutt, 5-3, in the 174-pound bout. Rella was down 2-1 at the end of the first and trailed 3-1 in the early moments of the second period, but a takedown moments later tied the affair at 3-3 at the end of the second period. With an escape to his credit, Rella, a native of Akron, Ohio, held Rutt scoreless the rest of the way for a 4-3 advantage. Also amassing a riding time of 1:01, Rella earned his 17th victory of the season.

Second-ranked Mike Pucillo garnered bonus points for the Buckeyes with his 14-4 major decision over Eric Bugenhagen at 184 pounds. A native of Strongsville, Ohio, Pucillo owned a slim 2-0 lead at the end of the first period, but soon held a 9-2 lead at the end of the second courtesy of three takedowns and an escape. In the third stanza, the Buckeye junior added additional points with a pair of takedowns and a riding time of 2:47.

Wisconsin pulled within one (10-9) at 197 pounds when third-ranked Dallas Herbst pinned Jason Cook, a junior from Dayton, Ohio, in 2:02.

Ohio State trailed for the first time in the match (12-10) following the heavyweight bout. Junior Corey Morrison had his hands full with No. 18 Kyle Massey, who was a 2008 NWCA All-Star participant in November. Morrison, a native of Shaker Heights, Ohio, and Massey were held scoreless in the first, but Massey took a 3-0 lead after the second on a takedown and escape. Scoring a pair of takedowns, an escape and riding time (1:09), Massey secured the decision, 8-1.  

Following wins at 125 and 133 pounds, Ohio State owned a 20-12 lead and senior J Jaggers was the second Buckeye to score bonus points on the day with a 13-3 major decision against Erik Senescu at 141 pounds. Jaggers jumped out to a 6-1 lead at the end of the first period before leading 9-1 at the end of the second stanza in his 19th win of the season. Jaggers finishes the regular season 6-2 in the conference and 14-4 in dual action.

Although Ohio State already had secured the team win, the Badgers were able to add six more points to their score after fourth-ranked Kyle Ruschell pinned Owen Schaefer in 4:29 in the 149-pound bout.

Notes:
The Big Ten Network aired the Buckeyes vs. Badgers match live. Replays of the match will air at 4 a.m. Monday (Feb. 23), 10 a.m. Monday (Feb. 23) and 1 p.m. Tuesday (Feb. 24).  

Ohio State finishes the regular season with seven league wins, a first since it went undefeated in the conference with seven victories in 1991-92.

 For the second-consecutive season, junior Mike Pucillo went undefeated in regular season Big Ten dual action with an 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 owns a 16-0 overall and dual ledger.

With the win Sunday, senior Jason Johnstone earned his 20th victory of 2008-09, a career best.  He also matched his career best in single-season Big Ten wins with three.

The Buckeyes will have a week off from competition a s they will prepare for the 2009 Big Ten Championships at the Bryce Jordan Center March 7-8 in University Park, Pa. 
 
Wisconsin 18, Ohio State 24

Wgt.  UW  OSU 
157 No. 17 Jason Johnstone (OSU) dec. Ben Jordan (UW), 6-2   0
165 No. 8 Andrew Howe (UW) dec. No. 2 Colt Sponseller (OSU) 3-2 
174  Dave Rella (OSU) dec. Travis Rutt (UW) 5-3 
184  No. 2 Mike Pucillo (OSU) maj. dec. Eric Bugenhagen (UW) 14-4 10 
197  No. 3 Dallas Herbst (UW) pin Jason Cook (OSU) 2:02  10 
285  No. 18 Kyle Massey (UW) dec. Corey Morrison (OSU) 8-1   12  10 
125 Nikko Triggas (OSU) pin Drew Hammen (UW) 2:22   12  16 
133  No. 3 Reece Humphrey (OSU) maj. dec. Tom Kelliher (UW) 13-3   12  20 
141  No. 13 J Jaggers (OSU) maj. dec. Erik Senescu (UW) 13-3  12  24 
149  No. 5 Kyle Ruschell (UW) pin Owen Schaefer (OSU) 4:29   18  24