ST. LOUIS, Mo. After advancing four wrestlers to the semifinals, Ohio State jumped from third to first with 61.5 points Friday afternoon in front of a crowd of 15,632 at the 2009 NCAA Wrestling Championships at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo. Junior Reece Humphrey (133), senior J Jaggers (141), junior Lance Palmer (149) and junior Mike Pucillo (184) will look to carve a spot for themselves in the NCAA finals Friday evening.
Iowa State is second with 57.5 points, with Nebraska rounding out the Top 3 with 54 points. Iowa holds down the No. 4 spot (53.5) and Edinboro is fifth with 49.5 points.
Semifinal action will begin at 7 p.m. ET Friday and will air live on ESPN2.
Highlighting the morning for Ohio State was Jaggers’ performance at 141 pounds. As the No. 3 seed, Jaggers brought the Buckeye contingent to its feet, pinning Iowa State’s Nick Gallick in 1:48 en route to earning the 26th victory of his senior campaign. Gallick scored a takedown just seconds after the first whistle but it was all Jaggers from there. The Northfield, Ohio, native was fast to put Gallick into a cradle hold and work until he earned the fall, his sixth of the season. In the semifinals, the reigning NCAA champion at 141 pounds will meet No. 7 Chris Drouin of Arizona State.
“Quarterfinals is the round I hate the most,” Jaggers said. “I was very excited to come back in that match after he blasted me with a two (takedown) early on.”
Humphrey, Ohio State’s No. 2 seed, advanced to the 133-pound semifinals after scoring a 15-6 major decision vs. conference-rival Jake Strayer of Penn State, the championships’ 10th seed. He now meets Jayson Ness of Minnesota. A native of Indianapolis, Ind., Humphrey was quick to get on the scoreboard, holding a 7-3 lead after the first period. In the match, he recorded four takedowns, a two-point nearfall and three-point nearfall. Humphrey enters his semifinal match with a 29-3 ledger.
“I felt good out there,” Humphrey said. “I’ll meet Ness (Minnesota) for the fourth time this season. I won two he won one, so it will be a good match and I’m physically and mentally prepared.”
Lance Palmer became the third Buckeye to earn a berth into the semifinals, securing a 4-0 decision over No. 5 Kyle Ruschell of Wisconsin at 149 pounds. Palmer, 30-3 on the season, led 1-0 for the majority of the match before collecting three late points with a nearfall in the final seconds of the match. The fourth seed now faces a rematch of the 2008 NCAA 149 quarterfinals when he meets No. 1 Brent Metcalf in the semifinals Friday evening.
At 165 pounds, No. 6 Colt Sponseller was close to upsetting No. 3 Ryan Morningstar of Iowa but fell, 4-2, in overtime. Morningstar held a 1-0 lead for most of the match until Sponseller tied it 1-all after the Hawkeye was twice called for stalling, awarding the Glenmont, Ohio, native one point. With 41 seconds left, Sponseller earned another crucial point from Morningstar’s stalling with seven seconds remaining to go up 2-1. At the end of regulation, the two Big Ten student-athletes were tied 2-2 as Morning star held the riding time advantage. The two battled back and forth and it was only with four seconds remaining in the sudden victory that Iowa got the takedown call. Sponseller, who moves to 32-7 in 2009, now will wrestle Roger Smith-Bergsrud of Illinois or Tyler Sherfey of Boise State in the consolation bracket Friday evening.
No. 3 Mike Pucillo made it so that Ohio State has four moving into the semifinal round in the championships bracket, earning a 3-1 decision at 184 pounds. In the first period, Pucillo posted a takedown to take a 2-0 lead. He added a point for an escape in the second stanza and held off Louis Caputo, the 11th-seed from Harvard, for the 3-1 win in the third. The native Strongsville, Ohio, improves to 22-1 in 2009 and will meet No. 7 Doug Umbehauer of Rider, who upset Iowa’s Philip Keddy, the championships’ No. 2 seed in the quarterfinals.
“I got the win,” Pucillo said. “That’s all that I can ask for right now. We have a good team that can score. Our position as a team will come down to the results from tonight. If we can put four into the finals we will be looking pretty good.”
Nikko Triggas remained alive in the consolation bracket for one more round but fell in his second match of the morning. Triggas battled Hofstra’s Steve Bonanno to a 6-5 decision to earn team points but fell, 6-3, to No. 10 Scotti Sentes of Central Michigan in the second round of consolation action. The Buckeye ends his sophomore season with a 22-17 record.
In the 174 wrestleback bracket, Dave Rella dropped a 7-2 decision to Nathan Lee of Boise State to end his run at the national event. The Akron, Ohio, native ends his junior season with a 21-15 record.
Consolation action wrapped up with Buckeye Corey Morrison facing No. 8 Kyle Massey of Wisconsin in the heavyweight division. The two Big Ten competitors had met three times previously with Massey leading the series, 3-0. Massey would take this match as well, a close 2-0 decision. Morrison ends his junior campaign with a 20-15 ledger.