ST. LOUIS, Mo. The Ohio State wrestling team had three Buckeyes earn a berth into the NCAA title match in front of 16,682 screaming wrestling fans at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo. As a team, Ohio State remains in the front of the pack with 84.5 points and three grapplers in the championships bracket and one in the consolation. Iowa, with one wrestler fighting for a title and four in the wrestlebacks, is second with 81.0 points while Iowa State holds third with 71.5. Nebraska is fourth (69.0) and Edinboro fifth (63.5).
Reece Humphrey (133), J Jaggers (141) and Mike Pucillo (184) will look to capitalize for the Buckeyes in the title round, with Jaggers and Pucillo in pursuit of defending their respective national crowns. Lance Palmer fell in his semifinal match and now will battle for either a third, fourth or fifth-place finish in wrestleback action starting at 10:30 a.m. ET Saturday. Ohio State’s four All-Americans will walk in the Parade of All-Americans at 6:05 p.m. ET with the title bouts beginning at 6:30 p.m.
ESPNU will broadcast the medal round live at 10:30 a.m. ET before ESPN takes over for the finals at 6:30 p.m. ET.
“Coming in we knew we had five studs who could come in and score points,” Tom Ryan, Ohio State head coach, said. “Right now, it is an awesome feeling being in a position where we can win it, but there is a lot of wrestling left to do with the wrestlebacks and finals. I know our guys aren’t going to back off.”
Using a technique he has not used in quite some time, Reece Humphrey rode his way into his first NCAA final at 133 pounds. The NCAA title match will be a repeat of the 2009 Big Ten title match with the second-seeded Buckeye pitted against Michigan State’s top-seeded Franklin Gomez. In the semifinal match, the tally remained 0-0 through all seven minutes of action, during which Humphrey collected two minutes of riding time to secure a 1-0 decision over Jayson Ness of Minnesota.
“When it went 0-0 on our feet, I just kept my riding time going because I knew Ness was strong on his feet,” Humphrey said. “We rally as a team because we are friends. With J Jaggers following me in the next match, I feel how much my team feeds off me and if I get things started like that, he’ll use the emotion and want to feel it too.”
And Jaggers felt it. In two-consecutive matches on mat three, Ohio State qualified two into the national title round. Jaggers, the reigning NCAA title holder at 141 pounds, scored his second-consecutive fall to advance to the Saturday night final. The Northfield, Ohio, native pinned No. 7 Chris Drouin of Arizona State in 4:27 on a cradle, the same way he pinned No. 6 Nick Gallick of Iowa State in the quarterfinals Friday afternoon. Jaggers, a fourth seed, will look to complete his bid for another national crown as he takes on No. 8 Ryan Williams Saturday night.
“I knew the opportunity could present itself,” Jaggers said about using the cradle. “I knew he swung to the right side. I wanted to push the pace more than I actually did but he kept me at a distance with his head snaps and fakes. The more I turn it into a fun match, the more opportunities I have for that cradle.”
The 149-pound semifinals brought up another Buckeye in Lance Palmer. The junior battled but fell, 5-2, to Brent Metcalf, Iowa’s top-seeded 149- pounder. The Columbia Station, Ohio, native, already a three-time All-American, will now enter the consolation bracket in search for a third-place finish. Palmer, a fourth seed, will meet conference-rival and sixth-seed Jake Patacsil.
The Big Ten Conference will secure another NCAA title with Ohio State’s Mike Pucillo and Northwestern’s Jake Herbert advancing to meet each other in the 184-pound title match Saturday night. Pucillo knocked off No. 7 Doug Umbehauer of Rider, 3-2, with a third-period takedown. The third-seeded Buckeye won the 184 title a season ago and enters his final bout as a junior with a 23-1 ledger. His opponent Herbert, the 2007 title holder and No. 1 seed, enters the match unbeaten, 33-0.
“I think we have a really good shot to win as a team with three in the finals,” Pucillo said.
In the consolation bracket, sophomore Colt Sponseller dropped his second match of the day, ending his bid at the national event. Sponseller, who lost a crushing 4-2 overtime match to Iowa’s No. 3 Ryan Morningstar Friday afternoon, fell, 2-0, to Tyler Sherfey of Boise State.