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COLUMBUS, Ohio The No. 6 Ohio State wrestling team will begin 2009 with a home match vs. Kent State at 5 p.m. Sunday in St. John Arena. The Buckeyes (3-0; 0-0 Big Ten) are returning to competition against the Golden Flashes (3-1; 0-0 MAC) for the first time in three weeks.

OHIO STATE PROBABLE LINE-UP
125 No. 18 Nikko Triggas (13-5)
133 No. 8 Reece Humphrey (12-0)
141 No. 12 J Jaggers (6-5)
149 No. 4 Lance Palmer (9-2)      
157 No. 15 Jason Johnstone (15-4)   
165 No. 4 Colt Sponseller (16-1)      
174 Dave Rella (11-3)
184 No. 1 Mike Pucillo (1-0)
197 Cody Gardner (13-3)   
285 No. 14 Corey Morrison (12-4)

HAPPY NEW YEAR 
With a 3-0 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 286-160-7 (.639) 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.

DEJA V 
For the second-consecutive year, the Buckeyes will open the New Year against the Golden Flashes. Exactly one year to the day, Ohio State defeated Kent State, 27-6, in Kent, Ohio. The win last season halted a two-match losing streak vs. the Golden Flashes.

KEEPING BUSY
While Ohio State ended 2008 with a 19-12 win at No. 17 Edinboro Dec. 14, as of press time, Kent State was competing in the Southern Scuffle in Greensboro, N.C. They Golden Flashes, who own a 3-1 dual record, were scheduled to wrestle Nebraska Dec. 20 in Lincoln, but that match was cancelled because of inclement weather.

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 94 takedowns. Jason Johnstone is second on the team with 47, while Reece Humphrey rounds out the Top 3 with 40.

Sean Nemec, who saw his first action in dual competition at Edinboro, is first on the team in major decisions with five. Sponseller also paces the squad with five technical falls and Nikko Triggas is the team leader in falls with eight.   

GOOD TO BE HOME
The Buckeyes are competing in their home venue St. John Arena for the first time since hosting the Buckeye Duals Nov. 16.

Sandwiched inbetween its dual matchups, Ohio State has competed in the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Wrestling Invitational (Dec 5-6) and traveled to Edinboro, Pa., to face the Fighting Scots Dec. 14 (W, 19-12).

Ohio State served as host of the 43rd Annual NWCA All-Star Classic Presented by The United States Marine Corps Nov. 24. 

BUCKEYE SNAPSHOT
The Buckeyes enter their match vs. the Golden Flashes with a 3-0 dual record. The Buckeyes return to action for the first time in three weeks.

Ohio State crowned a total of 10 champions in two open tournaments at the beginning of the season in November. At the Buffalo Open, Reece Humphrey, Jason Johnstone, Colt Sponseller, Dave Rella, Cody Gardner and Corey Morrison won their respective division.

The following weekend at the Wolfpack Open,  Humphrey, Johnstone, Sponseller and Gardner made it two in a row as they again were title winners. 

1-0 
Sean Nemec competed for the first time in dual action in his Ohio State career at Edinboro Dec. 14. Nemec accepted a redshirt in 2007-08. Wrestling at 174 pounds against the Fighting Scots’ Paul Paddock, scored a pair of escapes and a reversal, as well as earned a 1:20 seconds of riding time in the 7-4 win. 

THE DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES
Sophomore Colt Sponseller already has tied 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 16 wins, with just one loss.

BROTHERLY LOVE
Colt Sponseller’s older brother, Clint, is in his senior season with the Golden Flashes. Wrestling at 149 pounds, Clint has compiled a 64-39 record in three previous seasons with Kent State. Accepting a redshirt in 2005-06, Clint transferred from the U.S. Air Force Academy after spending the 2004-05 season with the Falcons. 
HONORARY COACH
Bob Rosenfeld will serve as the Buckeyes’ honorary coach for the Kent State match. A graduate of Edinboro, Rosenfeld went undefeated during the 1968 and 1969 dual meet seasons. In 1969, he was the Pennsylvania State College Tournament runner-up at 123 pounds. Rosenfeld advanced to the final of the 1968 and 1972 Olympic Trials and won both the Pennsylvania State and National YMCA Freestyle tournaments in 1968.

Rosenfeld has been the owner of Sterling Paper Company since 1986.   

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’ eight 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 eight 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 an 11-2 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 a 1:05.

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.

SCOUTING KENT STATE
Kent State, which is receiving votes in the latest  USA Today/InterMat/NWCA poll, has a 3-1 dual record. The Golden Flashes also have participated in various tournaments, including The Body Bar Tournament in which they finished second among a field of 11 teams and most recently the Southern Scuffle, where they were third out of 28 squads.

Kent State began the dual season at the Boilermaker Challenge Nov. 15 where the went 2-1, beating Tennessee-Chattanooga (32-10) and Campbellsville (30-12), but losing to Northwestern (21-8).

About a month later, the Golden Flashes hosted Clarion and handed the Golden Eagles a 22-13 loss.

Jim Andrassy (Kent State, 1995) is in his sixth season at the helm of Kent State.

Ohio State holds a 10-6 advantage over Kent State in the all-time series. A 27-6 win last season in Kent, Ohio, halted a two-match losing streak to the Golden Flashes.

UPDATE ON THE STANDINGS
In the latest USA Today/InterMat/NWCA rankings (Dec. 29), Ohio State remains at No. 6 in the  country.

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

Weight  

Wrestler  

 W.I.N. 

 InterMat

 125  

 Nikko Triggas  

 –  

18th

 133  

 Reece Humphrey  

 8th  

 8th

 141  

 J Jaggers  

 11th  

 12th

 149  

 Lance Palmer  

 4th  

 4th

 157  

 Jason Johnstone  

 17th  

 15th

 165  

 Colt Sponseller  

 4th  

 4th

 184  

 Mike Pucillo  

 2nd  

 1st

 285  

 Corey Morrison  

 17th 

 14th

 

 

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).

DON’T MISS OUT
Throughout the season, there will be several giveaways and events for fans to take part in at home matches.

Kent State
5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 4
Meet the Buckeyes in a postgame autograph session with select wrestlers

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. Ohio State will face Kent State at home Sunday before entering a tough Big Ten Conference stretch.

Seven of the Buckeyes’ eight league opponents are ranked in the Top 25. Ohio State will battle No. 18 Indiana (Jan. 30), No. 7 Minnesota (Feb. 1) and No. 8 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. 16 Penn State (Feb. 6), No. 15 Michigan (Feb. 13), No. 20 Northwestern (Feb. 20) and No. 10 Wisconsin (Feb. 22).

BATTLING BUCKEYES
Junior Reece Humphrey and sophomore Nikko Triggas, who are eighth and 16th at 133 and 125 pounds, respectively, in the InterMat polls,  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.
 
UP NEXT
Ohio State will take part in the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals Jan. 10-11 in the UNI Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa.