Feb. 12, 2003

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State wrestling team (10-5, 2-2), ranked No. 5/6 in the major wrestling polls, split its two conference dual meets last week with a win at Penn State and a tough loss at home to Purdue. The Buckeyes will recognize its seniors Thursday night at 7 p.m. as OSU plays host to No. 7/9 Illinois. The Buckeyes conclude the week with a trip to No. 8/10 Michigan Sunday at 2 p.m.

The No. 3-ranked Ohio State wrestling team remained perfect on the road in 2003 as they edged the Nittany Lions of Penn State 18-18 claiming the dual win via criteria as OSU tallied six match victories to four in State College, Pa. Thursday night. The Buckeyes fell to 7-5 at St. John Arena after suffering a tight 21-17 loss to No. 17 Purdue Sunday.

In the Penn State win, OSU swept through the mid-weight classes, 141-174, to recover from an early 12-0 deficit to escape Happy Valley with the win.

Top-ranked 157 Keaton Anderson brought the Buckeyes to within four at 18-14 after claiming an 18-3 technical fall as he extended his current win streak to 16-consecutive matches. John Clark scored a 10-5 decision to close OSU to within one at 18-17 as the dual meet headed into the decisive 174-pound bout, where Purdue claimed an 8-2 victory and scored the upset.

With the 3-point decision on Sunday, Tommy Rowlands has now claimed the top spot in career team points in Ohio State program history. Rowlands eclipsed Ohio State assistant coach Mitch Clark’s career mark of 448.5 Sunday and now stands at 449.5. His 165.0 team points in 2002 tied Clark for second all-time in season points scored. Rowlands’ 162.0 team points in the 2000-01 campaign place him fourth in that category as well.

The Buckeye HWT surpassed another OSU assistant in Ken Ramsey on the all-time charts as he scored three takedowns in Sunday’s victory to pass Ramsey for second in all-time takedowns with 443.

The Fighting Illini are currently ranked 8th in the nation by the Wrestling Mall as they head into Thursday night’s match up against Ohio State. Illinois is 9-3 on the season and 4-2 in the Big Ten. The Illini’s latest win came against No. 20 Wisconsin Sunday as they won eight of 10 matches en route to a 29-7 triumph.

Head coach Mark Johnson is in his 11th season as the head coach of the Illini. He has led his squad to more wins than any other wrestling coach in the school’s history. In the 2001 season, Johnson’s team took second at the Big Ten Championships as he was named Big Ten Coach of the Year. Johnson led his team to a 12-4 dual match record last year and a 10th place finish in the NCAA tournament.

The top wrestler at the University of Illinois is 165-pounder Matt Lackey. Lackey is currently on a 27-match unbeaten streak and is ranked first in the nation by all four major polls. Last season, Lackey won the 165-pound Big Ten title by defeating Ohio State’s John Clark, while placing second at the NCAA’s. He came up one match short of claiming the national title falling to Iowa State’s Joe Heskett on his way to a 38-2 season record.

Illinois leads the all-time series (32-28-1) against the Buckeyes including wins in each of the last six meetings. The last time these two squads grappled Ohio State was ranked 8th in the nation versus the Illini who were then ranked 7th, Illinois came away with a 25-6 victory on February 18th, 2001.

The Michigan Wolverines are currently ranked seventh in the nation by the Wrestling Mall. The squad has an 8-6 overall record on the season and is 3-2 in the Big Ten. In their most recent action, the Wolverines were upset by 16th-ranked Michigan State 16-15 Saturday. Michigan will host 12th ranked Penn State next Saturday before turning around on Sunday to square off against the Buckeyes.

At the helm for the Wolverines is head coach Joe McFarland. McFarland is in his fourth season and is coming off an impressive 16-3 record and third place-finish at the Big Ten Championships last year. McFarland wrestled as a Wolverine in the 1981-82 and 1984-85 seasons and has amassed a career record of 166-24-4 at the UM helm.

The Wrestling Mall and the coaches’ poll rank Michigan’s top wrestler, A.J. Grant, fifth in the nation at the 125-pound weight class. Grant is currently posting a 26-5 overall record on the season including a 13-1 dual mark. He finished 8th in the final poll put out by Amateur Wrestling News last season and had a 32-12 record.

Michigan leads the all-time series, 59-14-4, including nine straight wins over the Buckeyes. The last meeting between the two squads came on February 10th of 2002, when the Wolverines claimed a 23-12 victory as the Buckeyes could close within just seven at 16-9 before setting the final tally.

Ohio State senior 157 Keaton Anderson met top-ranked Luke Becker of Minnesota last week as the top two wrestlers in the country at the 157-class butted heads.

Both scrapped to a 0-0 tie after the first period before Anderson set the 1,515 in attendance into an eruption with an emphatic 2-point takedown midway through the second period. Anderson carried a 3-1 advantage into the third stanza and extended the lead with two strong takedowns as he had Becker on the verge of a fall on two separate occasions for the 10-3 final tally and extend his win streak to 14, while claiming the top spot in the polls.

Senior 157 and top-ranked Keaton Anderson and junior 165 and third-ranked John Clark represented Ohio State at the 2003 NWCA All-Star Classic Monday. Ohio State head coach Russ Hellickson contributed as a coach at the elite competition held at the University of Delaware.

Anderson faced Northern Illinois’ Scott Owen, ranked third in the latest national polls. Anderson and Owen grappled to a 2-2 stalemate at the end of regulation and headed to sudden victory overtime where Owen chose the down position and Anderson took advantage by locking Owen into a cradle and a three-point near-fall for the 5-2 victory.

Clark sought out to avenge one of his three losses in 2003 to No. 4-ranked Troy Letters of Lehigh, who bested Clark 8-3 in the third place match at the Midlands earlier this season. Clark fell short in an eventful and high-scoring 19-14 decision in favor of Letters. The bout began with Letters taking an 11-3 edge following the first period, but Clark recovered to pull within 16-10. In the third period both Clark and Letters traded takedowns, while Clark scored two escapes to Letters’ one, but ultimately fell short at 19-14.

Hellickson joined fellow head coaches Craig Turnbull of West Virginia, Ashland’s Ray Kowatch and Jeff Swenson of Augsburg .

The middle of the OSU lineup boasts a pair of Top 5 wrestlers who have excelled in dual meets this season in No. 1 Keaton Anderson and No. 4 John Clark at the 157 and 165 slots. Each has thrived in the dual setting as they have combined for a spectacular 25-1 combined mark in 2003, with Anderson at 11-0 and Clark at 14-1.

Ohio State’s advantage does not stop at 165, however, as No. 6 Blake Kaplan has built a solid 16-3 overall record in 2003 and is currently 2-1 in dual meets since returning from injury.

HWT Tommy Rowlands has claimed 10 of his last 12 dual bouts, as he contribute’s to the foursome’s impressive 45-5 combined dual record.

Keaton Anderson extended his current win streak to 16 matches last week with a 3-1 decision over Penn State’s No. 9 Scott Moore Thursday coupled with a technical fall in the loss to Purdue Sunday.

On Feb. 2, then-No. 2 Anderson and No. 1 Luke Becker of Minnesota scrapped to a 0-0 tie after the first period before Anderson set the 1,515 in attendance into an eruption with an emphatic 2-point takedown midway through the second period. Anderson carried a 3-1 advantage into the third stanza and extended the lead with two strong takedowns as he had Becker on the verge of a pin fall on two separate occasions for a 9-3 edge. Anderson reached the 1:00 riding time advantage to net the 10-3 decision over Becker and extend his streak to 14 matches.

Tommy Rowlands recorded his 100th career win when he pinned Matt Seaburg of Chattanooga at the 1:10 mark of the HWT match on Jan. 4. Rowlands is the third Buckeye to tally 100 career wins in the last three seasons and joins assistant coaches and former Buckeyes Ken Ramsey (121 wins) and Mitch Clark (119 wins) on the distinguished list.

Ohio State will head North for a bout with the No. 8/10-ranked Wolverines Sunday at 2 p.m.