Nov. 12, 2003

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 10 Ohio State wrestling team (0-0, 0-0) makes the trip to Brockport, N.Y. Saturday for the Oklahoma Gold Classic, jointly hosted by Oklahoma University and SUNY -Brockport. The event, which features Top 15-ranked Oklahoma, commences at 10 a.m. The finals are set to begin at 6 p.m.

The Oklahoma Gold Classic is a one-day event that boasts a nine-team field, including Ohio State, Oklahoma, Bloomsburg, Buffalo, Cleveland State, Rutgers, Wagner, the United States Military Academy and host Brockport (SUNY), which is a five-time national champion and ranked in the Top 3 among the Division III polls.

The tournament schedule is as follows:
Prelims: 10 a.m.
Finals: 6 p.m.

Ohio State competed at the Michigan State Open Saturday and Sunday at Jenison Field House in East Lansing, Mich. The Buckeyes recorded two first place finishers, a runner up and a third place wrestler in the non-scoring event.

Ohio State seniors Tommy Rowlands (HWT, Hilliard, Ohio), a three-time All-American, and Blake Kaplan (184, Cincinnati, Ohio) defended their 2002 MSU Open crowns Sunday as Rowlands captured the HWT title and Kaplan added a championship at 184 to his 174 title from a year ago. Freshman J.D. Bergman captured second place in his first collegiate competition, while senior John Clark earned third at 165 pounds.

With the championships won by Tommy Rowlands and Blake Kaplan at the 2003 Michigan State Open, the Buckeyes now have earned a dozen tournament titles spanning the last six individual competitions.

In addition, J.D. Bergman’s runner-up and John Clark’s third place at the MSU Open boost Ohio State’s place total to 25 during the same stretch.

Last season, a quartet of Buckeyes claimed multiple titles as Keaton Anderson (157), Clark (165) and Rowlands (HWT) took titles at both the Michigan State Open and the Oklahoma Gold Classic, while Anton Talamantes (197) recorded championships at the Michigan State Open as well and combined that with a title-winning performance at the Las Vegas Invitational. Anderson added a third title as he claimed the 157-pound championship at the Midlands.

The foursome, along with fellow Michigan State Open champ Kaplan, amassed an impressive 89-11 combined mark to start the year in tournament competition contributing to a team total of 545 takedowns, which bested the OSU opponent takedown total of 265 by an astounding 280 takedowns.

Last season, Ohio State finished second to Oklahoma in the final team standings with 154.5 team points, while the Sooners tallied a tournament-best 183.5 points.

Three Ohio State wrestlers claimed titles in the 2002 Oklahoma Gold Classic. Buckeyes junior HWT Tommy Rowlands (Hilliard, Ohio), senior 157 Keaton Anderson (Pickerington, Ohio) and junior 165 John Clark (Canton, N.Y.) won titles in their second consecutive individual event.

The Buckeyes claimed three titles in the 10-team field, which included No. 3/ 4 Oklahoma, as Rowlands took the crown for the second consecutive week in the heavyweight division, Anderson grabbed the crown in the 157-class and Clark took the 165 division.

Rowlands advanced to the finals registering a pin at the 1:22 mark of his quarterfinal match and a 20-9 victory in the semifinals. Rowlands tallied a 5-1 decision in the finals for his second straight title.

Also claiming a title for the second straight week was Anderson as he claimed a 12-4 victory in the tournament final after a technical fall in the quarterfinals and 12-9 decision in the semifinals.

In the 165-pound class Clark claimed decisive victories in both the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, including a 22-7 decision in the quarterfinals and a semifinal pin at the 2:45 mark of the match. Clark continued his domination in the finals with a 17-7 victory.

Buckeye junior 141 Jeff Ratliff advanced to the finals with a 15-6 decision in the semifinals before dropping a 10-2 decision to No. 1 (W.I.N. Magazine) Nate Parker of Oklahoma.

Also earning runners-up status were senior 197 Anton Talamantes (Ft. Wayne, Ind.) and junior Blake Kaplan (Strongsville, Ohio), who each fell to Sooners in the finals as Talamantes dropped a 11-9 decision to No. 13 Tom Grossman, while Kaplan fell 3-1 to E.K. Waldhaus in the title match.

The Ohio State wrestling team, which completed the 2002-03 season with a 12-7 overall dual mark and a Top 15 finish at the NCAA championships, once again has been recognized among the Top 15 in the nation by numerous amateur wrestling publications as the team embarks on a the 2003-04 season.

The Buckeyes are slotted as high as the No. 10 position by W.I.N. Magazine, while placing 12th and 15th in the and polls, respectively.

Individually, four separate Buckeyes rank within the Top 10 of their weight class in at least one of the major polls. Highlighting the Ohio State lineup is 2002 heavyweight champion and three-time All-American senior Tommy Rowlands (Hilliard, Ohio/ Bishop Ready), who tops the Amateur Wrestling News rankings, while placing second in the Intermat and Wrestling Mall polls.

Fellow All-American John Clark (Sr., Canton, N.Y./ Canton), who will wrestle at 165 pounds for the third-straight season, is slotted as high as No. 4 (Intermat), while holding at No. 5 in the AWN and TWM rankings.

Two other seniors fall into the Top 10 as 141 Jeff Ratliff (Marion, Ohio/ Marion Harding) and 184 Blake Kaplan (Cincinnati, Ohio/ Sycamore) look to conclude their careers with their first honors as All-Americans. Ratliff, who is approaching the 100-win plateau, is ranked No. 8 by TWM, while posting 10th and 11th positions in Intermat and AWN. Kaplan, who wrestled at 174 in 2002-03, jumps a weight class and finds himself ranked as the No. 9 wrestler at 184 pounds by Intermat.

Another pair of Buckeyes are ranked among the Top 20. One wrestler closes out his career in 2003-04, while another enters his initial season of collegiate competition. Senior 133 Jesse Leng (Hinckley, Ohio/ Highland) accounts for a No. 19 ranking by AWN, while freshman 197 J.D. Bergman (Oak Harbor, Ohio) has penetrated the Intermat rankings at No. 17.

Ohio State senior 165 John Clark became the fifth Buckeye wrestler to record his 100th win in the last three season under head coach Russ Hellickson.

Clark, who advanced to the quarterfinals of the MSU open with a major decision and a fall in the first two rounds, scored a 5-2 decision in his third match of the day to reach the 100-win plateau.

Clark dropped his next match in the semifinal, but rebounded to claim win No. 101 to advance to the third place match, where he claimed victory with a 5-1 decision.

Tommy Rowlands notched his 100th win early in the dual season last year, while departed senior Keaton Anderson hit the century mark during the Big Ten championships. John Clark recently eclipsed the 100-win mark at the MSU Open.

Senior Jeff Ratliff enters this season with the 100-win plateau within his grasp as he heads into competition with 77 career wins. Ratliff aims for his third-straight 30-plus win season that would assure him the century mark, making him the sixth Buckeye in the last season to accomplish the feat.

A dozen Buckeyes earned their first career victory at the Michigan State Open last week, led by 197-pound freshman J.D. Bergman, who claimed second place, while recording a team-best two falls and his first-career major decision.

157 James King, also a freshman, scored his first career fall in the opening round over OSU teammate Videl Smith. Junior transfer HWT Chris Burtscher also tallied a fall in he first round of the consolation bracket at the 5:05 mark of the match.

Redshirt freshman Ryan Rhodes and true freshman Ryan Needle scored their first victories via major decision. Freshman 174 Alex Picazzo notched a pair of major decisions en route to a 4-2 mark in the event.

Other Buckeyes posting their first career wins were freshman Jermaine Jones, T.J. Enright, Steve Muldrow and sophomores Ryan Derr and Nick Harpster, while junior transfer Nathaniel Augustson recorded his first win as a Buckeye at 174 pounds.

2002-03 saw numerous milestones set by Ohio State coaches and athletes as Russ Hellickson claimed his 250th win as Buckeye head coach, while Tommy Rowlands eclipsed the 100-victory plateau and also assumed the top spot in OSU career team points. He will become the first Buckeye to pass the 500-point ceiling early this season.

Rowlands also will seek to claim the No. 1 slot in career takedowns in 2003-04. He currently stands 160 shy of Adam DiSabato (1989-1993). Another 30-plus win campaign will lead Rowlands to the No. 1 position in career wins as he could pass No. 2 Disabato and No. 1 Ed Potokar near the end of the season.

John Clark and Jeff Ratliff also will be in pursuit of high marks in the Ohio State all-time charts in takedowns and team points, while Clark will seek to improve upon his 163 takedowns in 2003-04, the fourth-highest season total in OSU history. In fact, each member of the trio of Clark, Ratliff and Rowlands could possibly reach a Top 5 spot in season takedowns in 2003-04.

The Buckeyes boast a schedule that includes competition with ranked squads on a weekly basis this season, including early season meets and tournaments featuring the third and fourth place teams from the 2003 NCAA Championships – Oklahoma and Lehigh – before heading into the Big Ten slate, where the Buckeyes will face six opponents who placed in the Top 18 at the 2003 NCAA Tournament. The season climaxes as the Buckeyes play host to the 2004 Big Ten Championships in St. John Arena.

The Buckeyes return home following the New Year and serve as host of the 2004 Buckeye Duals (Jan. 3). Highlighting the field will be a visit by Lehigh, the defending Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association champions. Other teams wrestling will be Eastern Illinois, Bloomsburg, Buffalo and Big Ten foe Indiana.

The 2002-03 Ohio State wrestling season marked the second-consecutive campaign that head coach Russ Hellickson guided three Buckeyes to All-American status as senior 157 Keaton Anderson and junior 165 John Clark tallied their first such honor, while junior HWT Tommy Rowlands became the fourth Buckeye to become a three-time All-American.

In the dual season, Ohio State captured wins in six of its first seven matches, including victories over No. 6 West Virginia and No. 24 Cleveland State prior to serving as host to the NWCA National Duals for the second-consecutive season, where Ohio State scored a win over No. 16 Michigan State in the quarterfinals of the event before falling to top-ranked Oklahoma State in the semifinals. Ohio State rebounded with a victory over No. 6 Cornell before dropping a decision to No. 3 Iowa in the third place bout.

The Buckeyes completed the 2002-03 dual season with a 12-7 overall mark and a 4-4 Big Ten record.

Ohio State breaks for two weeks before heading west to Las Vegas, Nev. for the Las Vegas Invitational Dec. 5-6.