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COLUMBUS, Ohio The No. 6 Ohio State wrestling team will travel to Cedar Falls, Iowa, for the 2009 NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals Saturday and Sunday. The event, featuring 16 of the nation’s top NCAA Division I wrestling programs, will be held at the UNI-Dome.

The Buckeyes begin the competition facing meet host Northern Iowa at 11 a.m. Saturday on Mat 5. If Ohio State wins, the Scarlet and Gray advance on to the quarterfinals at 3 p.m. on Mat 4. If the Buckeyes drop to UNI, the squad will enter the preliminary round of the consolation bracket at 3 p.m. on Mat 14.  

Ohio State Probable Line-up
125 Nikko Triggas (13-6)
133 No. 8 Reece Humphrey (13-0)
141 No. 14 J Jaggers (6-6)
149 No. 4 Lance Palmer (10-2)      
157 No. 15 Jason Johnstone (16-4)   
165 No. 4 Colt Sponseller (17-1)      
174 Dave Rella (12-3)
184 No. 2 Mike Pucillo (2-0)
197 Cody Gardner (13-4)   
285 No. 16 Corey Morrison (12-5)

WHO’S THERE?
The best-of-the-best will be competing this weekend at the National Duals this weekend. The sixth-ranked Buckeyes are joined by Big Ten Conference members No. 1 Iowa, No. 9 Wisconsin, No. 11 Minnesota, No. 14 Penn State, No. 17 Michigan, No. 20 Northwestern and Indiana.

Nonconference challengers include, second-ranked Iowa State, No. 3 Cornell, No. 4 Nebraska, No. 5 Missouri, No. 16 Boise State, No. 21 Northern Iowa, Wyoming and Buffalo.

IF YOU’RE GOING
Tickets can be purchased from the UNI-Dome box office at 877-216-DOME or 319-273-4849.

2009 National Duals Ticket Prices
All Session Pass $40
All Session Pass (Senior/Student)* $32
Individual Session $25
Individual Session (Senior/Student)* $20
* Must be under 18 or have a valid University or College ID

WATCHING IT FROM HOME
Fans can watch a live stream of the 2009 NWCA National Duals in the comfort of their own homes by accessing the internet feed through UNI Panthers GAMEDAY Online at www.unipanthers.com.

REVIEWING THE FINALS
The finals of the 2009 NWCA National Duals will be broadcast by ESPNU on tape delay at 2 p.m. Jan. 15.

BUCKEYES SNAPSHOT
Ohio State is 4-0 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 they downed the 17th-ranked Fighting Scots, 19-12. The Scarlet and Gray moved to 4-0 last Sunday as they defeated instate rival Kent State, 20-15, in St. John Arena. 

THE SERIES
Ohio State and Northern Iowa enter the matchup Saturday with the series tied at 6-6. The two programs last met in 2004. The Buckeyes recorded a 21-14 victory at the first of two meetings in November at a neutral site but the Panthers bounced back with a 22-19 decision at home in February.  

PERFECTION
Two Buckeyes in Reece Humphrey (133) and Mike Pucillo (185) remain undefeated on the season. Humphrey owns a 13-0 overall ledger and 4-0 dual record this season. The junior from Indianapolis won titles at the Buffalo and Wolfpack Opens before going 2-0 at the Buckeye Duals.

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 recorded his second victory against a ranked opponent in as many tries holding off Kent State’s sixth-ranked Dustin Kilgore with a 6-1 result Sunday in St. John Arena.

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, who dropped from No. 1 to No. 2 in the Intermat/NWCA rankings this week, recorded his second win against a ranked opponent to propel Ohio State over Kent State, 20-15, last Sunday.

The then top-ranked 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 28-match win streak after ending the 2007-08 season with 26-consecutive victories.

HAPPY NEW YEAR 
With a 4-0 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 287-160-7 (.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.
Last time out

The No. 6 Ohio Stat wrestling team opened the New Year with a 20-15 win over Kent State last Sunday 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.

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. 

QUICK HITS
Sophomore Colt Sponseller leads the Buckeyes with 99 takedowns. Jason Johnstone is second on the team with 50, while Reece Humphrey rounds out the Top 3 with 41.

Sean Nemec, who saw his first action in dual competition at Edinboro, is first on the team in major decisions with five. Sponseller also paces the squad with five technical falls and Nikko Triggas is the team leader in falls with eight.   

1-0 
Sean Nemec competed for the first time in dual action in his Ohio State career at Edinboro Dec. 14. Nemec accepted a redshirt in 2007-08. Wrestling at 174 pounds against the Fighting Scots’ Paul Paddock, scored a pair of escapes and a reversal, as well as earned a 1:20 seconds of riding time in the 7-4 win. 

THE 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 17 wins, with just one loss.

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’ eight 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 eight 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)

QUICK WORK
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.

TOUGH CLASS
Both of Lance Palmer’s losses this season have come at the hands of NC State’s Darrion Caldwell. Palmer, who owns an 11-2 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 a 1:05.

TWO! 
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. 6), Ohio State remains at No. 6 in the  country.

Seven Buckeyes are ranked in the Top 20 of the individual standings.

 Weight Wrestler   W.I.N.  InterMat 133  ReeceHumphrey    8th 8th 141    JJaggers    14th   14th 149    LancePalmer    4th  4th 157  JasonJohnstone    14th 15th 165  ColtSponseller    4th 4th 184  MikePucillo    2nd 2nd 285   CoreyMorrison    18th  16th

 

 

 

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.

ALL-AMERICAN STYLE 
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.

Indiana
7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 30
Free rally towels to the first 1,000 fans courtesy of Nationwide
Meet the Buckeyes in a postgame autograph session with select wrestlers

Minnesota (in Value City Arena)
11 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 1
Check out the Buckeyes as they take on conference rival Minnesota in Value City Arena in the Jerome Schottenstein Center on The Ohio State University campus. Fans are encouraged to wear white and “White Out” the Gophers.

Purdue
5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 8
Meet the Buckeyes in a postgame autograph session with select wrestlers.

Illinois
2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 15
Meet the Buckeyes in a postgame autograph session with select wrestlers

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. 

TOUGH ROAD AHEAD
Nine 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.

Seven of the Buckeyes’ eight league opponents are ranked in the Top 25. Ohio State will battle No. 19 Indiana (Jan. 30), No. 11 Minnesota (Feb. 1) and No. 7 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. 14 Penn State (Feb. 6), No. 17 Michigan (Feb. 13), No. 20 Northwestern (Feb. 20) and No. 9 Wisconsin (Feb. 22).

BATTLING BUCKEYES
Junior Reece Humphrey and sophomore Nikko Triggas had impressive summers in international competition. Triggas, a native of Moraga, Calif., swept the Greco-Roman and freestyle events at the Pan American championships and Humphrey, who hails from Indianapolis, Ind., won the silver medal at the University World championships.

Humphrey and Triggas recently spoke to bigten.org contributing writer Larry Watts about their busy summer. The story currently is running on www.bigten.org.

SERVICE TO THE COMMUNITY
The Buckeyes take part in various community service initiatives throughout the season. Once a month, Ohio State visits patients at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The team also participates in the 2nd & 7 Foundation reading program that strives to “Tackle Illiteracy” in Central Ohio.

UP NEXT
Ohio State has a week to rest after the National Duals as it continues on the road with a dual competition against Hofstra set for 1 p.m. Jan. 25.