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COLUMBUS, Ohio Since dropping a heartbreaking match to Minnesota Feb. 1, the sixth-ranked Ohio State wrestling team has won three-consecutive matches in impressive fashion, including a 26-17 win against No. 17 Michigan in Cliff Keen Arena in Ann Arbor, Friday.

The Buckeyes, who now move to 13-2 overall and 4-1 in the Big Ten, were spurred by a match-changing pin by sophomore Nikko Triggas at 125 pounds. The unranked Triggas, who hails from Moraga, Calif., pinned No. 17 Michael Watts in 2:02 to give the Scarlet and Gray its first lead of the match at 17-14 with just three bouts remaining. It was Triggas’ team-leading 11th pin of the season.

“A win over Michigan is always great,” Triggas said. “There is nothing like shifting the momentum, especially with a pin.”

Ohio State would not relinquish its advantage as second-ranked Reece Humphrey followed with a 3:37 pin of Zac Stevens at 133 pounds. Despite senior J Jaggers dropping a close 4-2 decision to No. 5 Kellen Russell at 141 pounds, the Buckeyes held on for the victory with fourth-ranked Lance Palmer capping the evening with a 6-0 shutout of Mark Beaudry in the 149-pound division.

The Buckeyes now have won back-to-back matches against the Wolverines for the first time since 1992 and for the first time in consecutive seasons since the 1991 and 1992 campaigns. It also was the Scarlet and Gray’s first win in Ann Arbor since 1992.

“Beating Michigan is a priority for this program,” Tom Ryan, head coach said. “This was a total team effort and Nikko Triggas showed signs of the special young man we recruited.”

The evening began with the 157-pound matchup between Buckeye and Sandusky, Ohio, native Owen Schaefer and Wolverine Aaron Hynes. Schaefer, who will be one of four Buckeyes honored Sunday prior to Ohio State’s match vs. Illinois for Senior Day, lost, 16-1, and the Scarlet and Gray were quickly down, 5-0.

However, second-ranked Colt Sponseller, a sophomore from Glenmont, Ohio, wasted little time in getting the Buckeyes on the board after major decisioning Justin Zeerip. Following the second period, Sponseller tallied seven points to Zeerip’s two. In the third stanza, Sponseller continued to dominate, limiting Zeerip to just a pair of escapes while he tacked on three more takedowns, an escape and a riding time of 1:13. A warning on Zeerip also awarded Sponseller an additional point.

It appeared as though Dave Rella, a junior from Akron, Ohio, would have his hands full against No. 1-ranked Steve Luke, but it was more like Luke had his hands full against the feisty Rella at 174 pounds. Although Luke held an early 2-1 advantage on a takedown after the first period, Rella scored an escape 30 seconds in to the second period to even the score at 2-all. However, in just the first second of the final stanza, Luke was able to score an escape for the slim 3-2 win.

With Ohio State trailing Michigan, 8-4, a major decision win by No. 2 Mike Pucillo at 184 pounds would pull the two rivals even at 8 a piece. Pucillo, a junior from Strongsville, Ohio, recorded a 10-2 victory over No. 13 Anthony Biondo. Pucillo entered the second stanza with a small 2-0 lead, but soon began racking up the points in the middle period courtesy of pair of takedowns to head into the third period with a 6-2 advantage. In the third period, Pucillo scored an additional takedown, along with an escape and compiled a riding time of 2:14 to solidify the win.

Michigan again regained the lead (14-8) at 197 pounds when No. 6 Tyrel Todd pinned Jason Cook, a junior from Dayton, Ohio, in 1:41.

Thanks to a 3-2 decision by junior Corey Morrison over Eddie Phillips at heavyweight, the Buckeyes were able to cut the Wolverines’ lead to three. After a scoreless first period, Phillips struck first, escaping Morrison’s hold two seconds into the stanza.  After choosing down, the Buckeye, who is a native of Shaker Heights, Ohio, countered with an escape of his own to even the score and 14 seconds later scored a takedown for a 3-1 lead. Phillips notched an escape at the 1:05 mark, but it was not enough as Morrison garnered the 3-2 win.

It was then in the 125-pound bout, the momentum surely shifted to the Buckeyes’ side on Triggas’ pin. Prior to the pin, Triggas’ had a 2-0 lead on a takedown recorded at 1:22.

It took Humphrey, a junior from Indianapolis, Ind., a little longer to record his eighth fall of the season. Nonetheless, Humphrey, who is ranked second in the country, held a 13-4 advantage over Stevens prior to the pin.

Jaggers’ loss to Russell was a close affair as a Russell takedown in the final minute of the third period was enough for the Wolverine to win, 4-2. Jaggers owned a 1-0 lead after the second period, but Russell scored a reversal early in the third stanza and answered Jaggers’ match-tying escape (2-2) 34 seconds in the period with the winning takedown.

With the Wolverines’ needing a pin to tie the match, Palmer made sure that would not be the case with his 6-0 shutout against Beaudry. The sophomore from Columbia Station, Ohio, scored two takedowns, an escape and owned a riding time of 5:18 in the win.      

Notes:
Colt Sponseller recorded his team-leading 26th win (3 losses) of the season and is 5-0 in the Big Ten.

Mike Pucillo remains undefeated at 13-0 and is 5-0 in the Big Ten.

Sponseller, Pucillo and Lance Palmer are undefeated in the Big Ten at 5-0.

Buckeye head coach Tom Ryan is one win away from tallying his 150th-career victory. Prior to leading the
Buckeyes, Ryan spent 11 seasons at Hofstra.

Ryan improves to 2-1 against Michigan as the Ohio State head coach.

Ohio State will honor its 2008-09 seniors Wes Bergman, J Jaggers, Jason Johnstone and Owen Schaefer Sunday prior to the Buckeyes’ match vs. No. 8 Illinois at 2 p.m. in St. John Arena.

The Big Ten Network will re-air the match between the Buckeyes and Wolverines again at 6 p.m. Feb. 14, 1 p.m. Feb. 15, 1 p.m. Feb. 17 and 4 a.m. Feb. 18.

No. 6 Ohio State (13-2; 4-1 Big Ten) 26; No. 17 Michigan (8-7-1; 3-1-1 Big Ten) 17
Feb. 13, 2009
Cliff Keen Arena
Ann Arbor, Mich.

    OSU  U-M 
157  Aaron Hynes (U-M) tech. fall Owen Schaefer (OSU), 16-1 (5:12) 
165  No. 2 Colt Sponseller  mdec. Justin Zeerip (U-M), 16-4  
174  No. 1 Steve Luke (U-M) dec. Dave Rella (OSU), 3-2  
184  No. 2 Mike Pucillo (OSU) mdec. No. 13 Anthony Biondo (U-M) , 10-2 
197  No. 6 Tyrel Todd (U-M) pinned Jason Cook (OSU), 1:41     14 
285  Corey Morrison (OSU) dec. Eddie Phillips (U-M), 3-2  11 14 
125  Nikko Triggas (OSU) pinned No. 17 Michael Watts (U-M), 2:02    17  14 
133  No. 2 Reece Humphrey (OSU) pinned Zac Stevens (U-M), 3:37   23  14 
141  No. 5 Kellen Russell (U-M) dec. No. 14 J Jaggers (OSU), 4-2   23  17 
149  No. 4 Lance Palmer (OSU) dec. Mark Beaudry (U-M), 6-0  26  17