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Hofstra hosts pre-match brunch for the Teague Ryan Wrestling Complex

COLUMBUS, Ohio The No. 5 Ohio State wrestling team makes a trip to the East Coast to grapple against No. 20 Hofstra at 1 p.m. Sunday in Hempstead, N.Y. Ohio State will look to carry the momentum from its fifth-place finish at the 2009 National Duals into the nonconference dual Sunday after having the weekend off.

Third-year Buckeye head coach Tom Ryan led the Pride from 1995-2006. Ryan guided Hofstra to six-consecutive conference titles and was voted league coach of the year seven times during his career.

The Ryan family returns to New York this week as Hofstra unveils its plans to rename the soon-to-be renovated Pride wrestling facility the Teague Ryan Wrestling Complex in honor of his late son.

REMEMBERING TEAGUE
Hofstra will host a pre-match brunch in honor of Teague Ryan who passed away when he was four years-old during head coach Tom Ryan’s career with the Pride.

The brunch will be a fundraiser for the Teague Ryan Wrestling Complex. Hofstra will unveil its plans to renovate the current Pride wrestling facility and make it one-the-best in the northeast.

Ryan will be a keynote speaker at the event.

Ohio State Probable Line-up
125 Nikko Triggas (16-8)
133 No. 2 Reece Humphrey (18-0)
141 No. 12 J Jaggers (12-5)
149 No. 4 Lance Palmer (15-2)      
157 No. 15 Jason Johnstone (17-6)   
165 No. 4 Colt Sponseller (20-3)      
174 Dave Rella (13-7)
184 No. 2 Mike Pucillo (7-0)
197 Cody Gardner (13-8)   
285 No. 17 Corey Morrison (14-8)

THE SERIES
Ohio State and Hofstra have only met for a dual meet twice previous to the matchup Sunday. The Buckeyes lead the series record, 2-0, defeating the Pride, 25-16, in its last outing at the 2008 National Duals in Cedar Falls, Iowa, Jan. 12.

The two programs first battled on the mats in St. John Arena. Ohio State secured a 26-13 victory at home Jan. 9, 1980.

BUCKEYES SNAPSHOT
Ohio State is 8-1 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 it downed the 17th-ranked Fighting Scots, 19-12. The Scarlet and Gray moved to 4-0 Jan. 4 as they defeated instate rival Kent State, 20-15, in St. John Arena. 

The Buckeyes then earned fifth at the 2009 National Duals with a 4-1 record at the meet. Ohio State posted a 32-12 victory over No. 21 Northern Iowa before dropping a close 16-17 loss to No. 3 Cornell Jan. 10. The Scarlet and Gray posted a 23-19 upset over No. 5 Missouri and followed with a 21-12 decision vs. No. 16 Boise State to advance to the fifth-place final Jan. 11.

Ohio State concluded the National Duals with a 25-12 win over No. 11 and conference rival Minnesota to secure its fifth-place finish.

W-O-W, AGAIN
J Jaggers earned his first Big Ten Wrestler of the Week honor of the 2008-09 season and the second-consecutive for a Buckeye Jan. 13 after he went undefeated at the 2009 National Duals in Cedar Falls, Iowa, helping the Buckeyes to a fifth-place finish.

The reigning NCAA champion at 141 pounds recorded a perfect 5-0 ledger, including two upsets over No. 8 Mike Thorn of conference rival Minnesota and No. 10 Marcus Hoehn of Missouri. Then-ranked 14th in the national polls, the Northfield, Ohio, native secured a 7-2 decision over Thorn, recording a take down, two escapes and a three-point nearfall. Against Hoehn, Jaggers helped the sixth-ranked Buckeyes down No. 5 Missouri, battling to an 8-6 sudden victory.

Against No. 3 Cornell, the senior’s win tied the Buckeyes and Big Red at 13-all, earning an 11-2 major decision over Corey Manson. Jaggers opened the weekend with a 4-3 decision over Trent Washington of host Northern Iowa and added a 3-1 decision over Boise State’s Cory Fish.

Jaggers, a high school graduate from St. Peter Chanel and a communication major at Ohio State, previously received the conference recognition January 2008.

This is the fourth Big Ten weekly honor for the Buckeyes this season and second consecutive for the team. Junior Mike Pucillo, the 2008 NCAA champion at 184, earned his first honor of the season Jan. 6 while junior Reece Humphrey was named wrestler of the week Nov. 4 and senior Corey Morrison picked up his first career honor Dec. 16.   

PERFECTION
Two Buckeyes – Reece Humphrey (133) and Mike Pucillo (185) – remain undefeated on the season. Humphrey owns a 18-0 overall ledger and 9-0 dual record this season. The junior from Indianapolis won titles at the Buffalo and Wolfpack Opens before going 2-0 at the Buckeye Duals.

On the season, Humphrey has tallied 54 takedowns, the third most for a Buckeye in the 2008-09 season, and has recorded seven pins.

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  then recorded his second victory against a ranked opponent in as many tries by holding off Kent State’s sixth-ranked Dustin Kilgore with a 6-1 result Jan. 4 in St. John Arena.

The 2008 NCAA champion at 185, Pucillo is 7-0 this season after both he and Humphrey posted 5-0 records at the 2009 National Duals Jan. 10-11, helping the Buckeyes to a fifth-place finish.

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 recorded his second win against a ranked opponent to propel Ohio State over Kent State, 20-15, Jan. 4 to earn the honor.

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 33-match win streak after ending the 2007-08 season with 26-consecutive victories.

HAPPY NEW YEAR 
With an 8-1 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 292-161-7 (.642) 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.

JOHNSTONE PROPELS BUCKEYES TO 20-15 VICTORY OVER KENT STATE
Ohio State opened the New Year with a 20-15 win over Kent State Jan. 4 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.

In 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 106 takedowns. Jason Johnstone is second on the team with 57, while Reece Humphrey rounds out the Top 3 with 54.

Sean Nemec, who saw his first action in dual competition at Edinboro, is first on the team in major decisions with five. Johnstone and Dave Rella are tied for second on the team with four. Sponseller also paces the squad with five technical falls and Nikko Triggas is the team leader in falls with nine.   

A 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 20 wins, with just three losses.

The Glenmont, Ohio, native leads Ohio State with 106 takedowns while also recording five technical falls and four pins.

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’ nine 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 nine 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 a 15-2 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 1:05.

In his junior campaign, the Columbia Station, Ohio, native has racked up 19 takedowns, six pins and two major decisions, owning a perfect 7-0 dual record.

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. 20), Ohio State moved up a spot to  No. 5 in the  country.

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

Weight Wrestler W.I.N. InterMat
133  Reece Humphrey  2nd  2nd
141  J Jaggers  6th  12th
149  Lance Palmer  4th  4th
157  Jason Johnstone  14th  15th
165  Colt Sponseller  4th  4th
184  Mike Pucillo  2nd  2nd
285  Corey Morrison  18th 17th

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. 21 Indiana (Jan. 30), No. 9 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. 19 Northwestern (Feb. 20) and No. 15 Wisconsin (Feb. 22).

INDIVIDUAL ACTION
Although dual action was off for the weekend, Ohio State wrestlers remained on the go, participating at the Kent State Open last Sunday.

Freshman Sean Nemec and junior AJ Agazarm collected a pair of titles at the individual tournament, winning the 157 and 165 weight classes in Kent, Ohio. Six other Buckeyes earned Top 6 finishes at the tournament.

Wrestling at 157 pounds, Nemec recorded a perfect 5-0 ledger on the day. En route to the bout for first place, the rookie defeated AJ Johnson of Virginia Tech (2-0), scored a major decision against Clarion’s Justin McCrillis (17-2), posted a 4-2 win over Brantley Hooks of Bucknell and advanced to the 157 final after downing Penn State’s Tim Darling, 9-3. Nemec won the title match by a score of 8-1 over Eastern Michigan’s Aaron Sulzer. The first-year student-athlete now owns an 18-2 record.

Classmate Jared Kusar also wrestled at 157 and finished fourth.

Agazarm was victorious at 165 pounds, winning the title without allowing his opponents any. After a bye in the first round, the junior won a 2-0 match against Kent State’s Sli Bostelman and advanced to the championship round on a 5-0 victory over Clarion’s Steven Cressley. Agazarm tallied his first pin (2:06) of the season, making quick work of Indiana’s Cooper Samuels in the final bout of the day, improving his 2008-09 record to 6-4.

Buckeye Ross Ambrose added a third-place finish at 165.

The Scarlet and Gray finished 2-3 in the 125 weight division at the open. Ohio State’s Bo Touris improved to 5-2 on the season after winning four-consecutive match to reach the 125 championship match. The freshman downed Bloomsburg’s Matt Snyder, 12-8, Penn State’s Eric Caschera, 10-5, and Kent State’s Troy Opfer, 9-7, before falling, 16-6, to Edinboro’s Eric Morrill to place second.

Buckeye Pat Harrington claimed third at 125, with a 4-1 record.

After dropping his second match, Ohio State’s Garrett Henry battled back to a third-place finish at 133 pounds. For the day, Henry was 5-1, improving to 8-5 on the season.

At 184, Buckeye Jeremy Sanders earned a fourth-place finish with a 2-2 record while two Ohio State student-athletes earned Top 6 placing in the heavyweight division. Freshman Johnny Hiles finished fourth while classmate Pat Walsh was sixth.

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 opens its Big Ten Conference home schedule with a double-header vs. Indiana and Minnesota Friday and Sunday, respectively.

The Buckeyes and Hoosiers will meet at 7 p.m. Friday in St. John Arena. The first 1,000 fans will receive free rally towels courtesy of Nationwide.

The Scarlet and Gray then move across the river to Value City Arena as the team looks for its fans to “White Out” the Gophers at 11 a.m. Sunday.