ST. LOUIS, Mo. The Ohio State wrestling team remains in third place with 30 points after two rounds of the 2009 NCAA Wrestling Championships at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo. The Buckeyes have five remaining in the championships bracket and three in the consolation bracket. Iowa and Iowa State are tied for first with 33 points, while Nebraska holds fourth with 24 points. The second round attracted 15,851 wrestling fans. The quarterfinal rounds begin at 11 a.m. ET Friday with the consolation bouts following.
“It is important to our program to have a guy at every weight class who believes he can win this thing,” Tom Ryan, Ohio State head coach, said. “It is Ohio State. It is the expectations of the boss I work for and Buckeye nation to meet those standards. It is great to have everyone contributing.”
The consolation pigtail matches started the evening at the Scottrade Center with Ohio State senior and 157-pounder Jason Johnstone scoring points for the squad with an 11-8 decision of Penn’s three-time NCAA qualifier Matt Dragon. The match was tied at 4-all after one stanza with Johnstone scoring a takedown and a reversal. Competition remained tight until the Massillon, Ohio, native, gained ground in the third, posting a takedown and three-point nearfall en route to the 11-8 win, his first of the championships and 21st this season.
The national event then moved to the championships bracket.
After recording the third-fastest pin in NCAA championships history earlier in the day, Reece Humphrey scored his second win of the evening, a 16-7 major decision of Liberty’s Christian Smith at 133 pounds. Humphrey posted six takedowns and now has 77 on the season. The junior meets conference-rival and No. 10 seed Jake Strayer of Penn State in the quarterfinals.
Continuing his drive to defend his national title, J Jaggers score a 6-4 overtime victory vs. Tyler Nauman of Pittsburgh at 141 pounds. Jaggers jumped ahead 2-1 after the first stanza, but the wrestlers were tied after two periods, 3-3. Both student-athletes scored a single point in the third to make it 4-all and push the match into overtime. In the sudden victory round, Jaggers, the championships’ third seed, recorded a crucial takedown to move on to the quarterfinals where he will meet No. 6 Nick Gallick of Iowa State Friday morning.
At 149 pounds, Lance Palmer improved to 3-0 at the national competition after winning a pigtail match with a pin and earning a close decision in his first-round match. The junior knocked off Iowa State’s Mitch Mueller, 3-0, to advance to the quarters. The two-time All-American and fourth seed at the NCAA championships will face Big Ten foe and No. 5 Kyle Ruschell of Wisconsin.
Colt Sponseller remains in the championships mix at 165 pounds, winning a 3-1 decision over No. 11 Trevor Stewart, a senior from Central Michigan. The sophomore, a sixth seed, has a battle waiting for him in the quarterfinals as he is slated to meet Iowa’s Ryan Morningstar, the third seed, Friday morning.
Mike Pucillo made it 5-for-5 as the five Buckeyes in the championship brackets remain in pursuit of the coveted NCAA title. Pucillo, with two takedowns and an escape, won a 5-0 decision over Thomas Spellman of Virginia Tech at 184 pounds. The third-seeded junior will wrestle No. 11 Louis Caputo, a junior from Harvard.
“It’s a blast out there,” Pucillo said after his second win of the day. “There is nothing like going out there and winning. As long as I keep winning, I’ll be happy.”
After the completion of the championship brackets, the wrestlebacks began with Ohio State’s Nikko Triggas, Johnstone, Dave Rella and Corey Morrison looking to stay alive at the championships.
Triggas (125) scored his team-leading 14th fall, needing just 1:21 to pin Ian Moser of Bloomsburg. The two-time NCAA qualifier climbs the Ohio State record book for falls in a season, moving into sixth place with 14 in his sophomore career. Triggas is one shy of a tie for fourth with Mitch Clark (1997) and Kelvin Irby (1980). Next up for the California native is Hofstra’s Steve Bonanno, one of two possible matches for Triggas Friday morning.
In his second match of the evening, Johnstone fell, 9-3, to No. 10 Scott Winston of Rutgers, ending his senior season with a 21-14 record.
Wrestling at 174 pounds, Rella posted a 20-6 major decision of Millersville’s Shane Smith. The junior jumped ahead early with a 4-1 advantage in the first frame and added to his lead, 9-2, after two periods. In all, Rella recorded seven takedowns and a three-point nearfall in the win. The Akron, Ohio, native advances to meet Boise State’s Nathan Lee in the consolation bracket Friday morning.
In Ohio State’s final match of the evening, Corey Morrison battled Rider’s Eddie Bordas in the heavyweight division. With only a one-point lead heading into the final stanza, Morrison worked hard in the final two minutes to win, 2-1. The Buckeye now meets No. 8 Kyle Massey of Wisconsin.