No. 5 Ohio State wrestling team finished the first day of competition at the 40th annual Midlands Tournament with an impressive third place performance on Saturday on the campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. The Buckeyes completed the preliminary rounds of action with 65.0 total team points, which trails a Big Ten-dominated leader board including first place Iowa (74.5) and bests the fourth place tie between Michigan and Penn State (45.0).

Individually, No. 18 Jeff Ratliff (141, Jr. Marion, Ohio), No. 5 Keaton Anderson (157, Jr., Pickerington, Ohio), No. 6 John Clark (165, Jr., Canton, N.Y.) and No. 2 Tommy Rowlands (HWT, Jr., Hilliard, Ohio) have extended an impressive tournament season as each advanced through to the quarterfinal rounds unscathed.

Rowlands and Clark, both juniors, each advanced with decisive wins in the preliminary rounds as Clark maneuvered his way into semifinal competition with a 7-3 win over Anthony Castillo of Illinois in the first round, a 3-2 edge over Boston University’s Leighton Brady in the round of 16 and a 10-4 triumph over Central Michigan’s Kevin Carr in the quarterfinals, while Rowlands has pushed through to the semis with a 7-3 decision over Michigan’s Greg Wagner in round one, a dominating 15-0 technical fall in the round of 16 over Jack Dennis of Northern Illinois and a 6-5 ledger over No. 7 Pat Cummins of Penn State in the quarterfinals. Rowlands is set to take on his current assistant coach and mentor former Ohio State national champion Micth Clark in the semifinals. Clark, who is in his fifth year as an Ohio State assistant coach, is competing with the Ohio International Wrestling Club and has reached Sunday’s semifinals with a first round pin and a 3-0 decision in the round of 16 in the heavyweight division. Fellow junior Ratliff also has advanced through four rounds as he combined a major decision and technical fall in the first two rounds with a 6-3 decision over John Giacche of Northwestern in the round of 16 and a 9-3 decision over Juan Venturi of Princeton in the quarterfinals.

In the 157-pound class, Anderson scored a major decision over Brad Harper of Purdue in the round of 16 and pinned Northwestern’s Mike Kimberlin at the 5:51 mark of his first round match and a 4-2 decision over No. 12 David Bolyard of Cnetral Michigan in the quarterfinals.

Also worthy of mention is former Buckeye Nick Preston, who finished third at the 197 class at the NCAA championships in 2002, is also competing in the heavyweight division and has advanced to the round of eight with two victories via decision. Preston is competing with Sunkist Kids.

Ohio State resumes competition in search of the 2003 Midlands team title on Sunday at noon.

Midlands team standings following quarterfinal matches

1. Iowa, 74.5 2. Sunkist Kids, 64.0 3. Ohio State, 63.0 4. Michigan, 45.0 Penn State, 45.0 6. Illinois, 43.0 7. Lehigh, 44.0 Cornell, 44.0 9. Hofstra, 42.0 10. North Carolina, 25.0 ###Go Bucks###