Dec. 4, 2002
Columbus, Ohio – The No. 6 Ohio State wrestling team will resume action on Friday Dec. 6 as it competes in the two-day Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational held at the convention center in Las Vegas, Nev. OSU juniors Tommy Rowlands (HWT) and John Clark (165) will look to claim their third consecutive tournament crowns, while senior Keaton Anderson (157) will also look for his third title in as many events. Ohio State will be competing against individuals from approximately 40 different programs, including Big Ten rivals Michigan and Minnesota.
THE LAS VEGAS INVITATIONAL The Las Vegas Invitational will be held on both Friday, Dec. 6 and Saturday, Dec. 7 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The tournament schedule is as follows: Friday Preliminaries 9 a.m. (PST) Quartefinals 7 p.m. (PST) Saturday Consolation 9 a.m. (PST) Semifinals 10 a.m. (PST) Finals 5 p.m. (PST)
ANDERSON NAMED BIG TEN WRESTLER OF THE WEEK & WRESTLER OF OKLAHOMA CLASSIC Senior wrestler Keaton Anderson was selected as the Big Ten’s first wrestler of the week for the 2002-03 season (Nov. 12) as he dominated the field on his way to claiming the 2002 Michigan State Open Championship at the 157-pound weight class. Anderson was also recognized as the wrestler of the tournament for his efforts in the Oklahoma Gold Classic as he captured the 157-class with a 12-4 victory in the finals over George Carter of Bloomsburg. Anderson, who is ranked among the Top 10 in all the major individual rankings, captured the title at the MSU Open in an unchallenged fashion as he won the six round event by a combined score of 68-5. Anderson defeated No. 17 Mike Tolar of Kent State in the finals of the open by a 9-1 count. The 157-pounder also recorded consecutive technical falls in each of the first two rounds.
BUCKEYES SHINE IN EARLY MEETS OSU has kicked off the 2002-03 season in impressive fashion as the squad boasts eight tournament titles and three runners-up performances coming in the Michigan State Open and Oklahoma Gold Classic to open the season. A trio of Buckeyes have claimed titles in both events as senior 157 Keaton Anderson and juniors HWT Tommy Rowlands and John Clark (165) have commenced 2002 with a combined 25-0 mark. Two other Buckeyes won their division at the Michigan State Open as senior 197 Antan Talamantes and junior 174 Blake Kaplan proved to be the class of their respective divisions. Kaplan and Talamantes each took second in the Oklahoma Gold Classic, as did Buckeye junior 141 Jeff Ratliff. Overall, Ohio State is dominating in the statistical department as the Buckeyes currently hold 259-94 advantage over their opponents in takedowns and a decisive 218-40 edge in back points. OSU also holds a 12-1 ledger in technical falls in the two events.
NATIONALLY-RANKED BUCKEYES Ohio State jumped up a spot to No. 5 in the InterMat.com, Wrestling Mall and W.I.N. Magazine national wrestling polls , while holding strong as the No. 6 squad in the nation in the NWCA Division I rankings. Tommy Rowlands is a unanimous favorite this year in the heavyweight class. The Wrestling Mall, W.I.N. Magazine and The Mat.com all have Rowlands No. 1 in their respective polls. John Clark is also ranked in all three polls in the 165 weight class. He is ranked 12th among his competitors in the WrestlingMall poll, but finds himself in the Top 5 in The Mat.com and W.I.N. Magazine polls at No. 4 and No. 5, respectively. Keaton Anderson heads the 157 weight class for the Buckeyes. He is ranked in the Top 10 in all three polls, listed respectively at No. 9 (The Wrestling Mall), No. 7 (Amateur Wrestling News) and No. 6 (W.I.N. Magazine). Josh Daugherty (149), Jeff Ratliff (141), Blake Kaplan (174), Casey Kapustka (184) and Anthony Talamantes (197) have also received rankings in each of their weight class this season.
2001-02 IN REVIEW Ohio State had one of its best campaigns in recent years with a 20-4 record and a 5-3 mark in the Big Ten. What really set the season apart from many others was the 2002 National Duals held in Columbus. As the No. 7 seed in the event, the Buckeyes pulled off consecutive stunning upsets. The Buckeyes defeated No. 2 Oklahoma State, 19-13 to set up one of the biggest wins in OSU history over No. 3 Oklahoma. The Buckeyes, down four points heading into the heavyweight match, needed a Tommy Rowlands win by major decision over Leonce Crump to tie the dual and hope the criteria would declare OSU the winner. Rowlands pinned the Sooner giving the Buckeyes a 19-17 win and a shot at No. 1 Minnesota in the finals. In Big Ten action, the Buckeyes lost duals with No.1 Minnesota, No. 2 Michigan and No. 3 Iowa to finish 5-3 for the second year in a row and captured fourth place at the Big Ten Championships on the strength of Tommy Rowlands’ heavyweight crown. Three Buckeyes claimed runner-up spots. Jeff Ratliff (133), John Clark (165) and Nick Preston (197) each took second in their respective weights.
TWENTY SOMETHING The Buckeyes tied the all-time school mark for victories in a season during the 2001-02 campaign. OSU’s 20-4 record tied the 1989-90 and 1991-92 teams that also broke the 20-win plateau. The first record was set in 1989-90 when Russ Hellickson guided the team to a 20-5 finish. Two years later, Ohio State concluded its campaign with a 20-4 record.
HELLICKSON REAPS SECOND BIG TEN COACH OF THE YEAR AWARD IN 2002 OSU head coach Russ Hellickson was selected by the Big Ten coaches as the co-coach of the year in the conference for his team’s performance in 2001-02. Hellickson shared the title with Minnesota’s J. Robinson. This is the second time the members of the conference have selected Hellickson as its top coach. He also received the honor in 1991.
HELLICKSON ENTERS 17TH SEASON AT OSU Hellickson commences his 17th year as head of the Scarlet and Gray and his 21st overall. Hellickson stands 310-150-6 overall and 239-128-6 with the Buckeyes. Under Hellickson’s guidance, OSU has produced at least one All-American in each of the last 13 seasons with five wrestlers capturing a total of six national championships. He began his coaching duties in the 1982-83 season with his alma mater Wisconsin and coached the Badgers to a 71-22-0 record in four seasons prior to arriving in Columbus.
HELLICKSON APPROACHES 250th CAREER WIN AT OHIO STATE Hellickson needs just 11 dual meet victories in the 2002-03 campaign to achieve 250 career wins at Ohio State. Hellickson has lead the Buckeyes to three 20-win campaigns in his career, including a 20-4 mark last season.
REWRITING THE RECORD BOOK Several of the Ohio State record charts have been restructured following the 2001-02 season and the early going in 2002-03. Tommy Rowlands, Keaton Anderson and John Clark are three active wrestlers who have etched their names into school annals. Rowlands moved into the Top 10 with 317 career takedowns following last season and is the only non-senior to ever make the list. Rowlands has accumulated 34 takedowns in the two competitions thus far, which has elevated him to No. 8 all-time. For the 2001-02 season, Rowlands’ 155 were seventh-most in program history. John Clark tallied 132 takedowns in his sophomore campaign which is good for tenth all-time. Rowlands also has made his way toward the top of the list for career and season team points accumulated with 304.5 good for ninth all-time. His 165.0 team points in 2002 tied former Buckeye grappler and current OSU assistant coach Mitch 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. Anderson is now No. 7 in career back points with 260.
SIX NCAA QUALIFIERS RETURN IN 2002 Nine Buckeyes qualified for the 2002 NCAA tournament last season with seven wrestlers receiving seeds, led by No. 1 Tommy Rowlands, who was joined by No. 4 Nick Preston (197), No. 7 Jeff Ratliff (133), No. 8 John Clark (165), No. 9 Keaton Anderson (149), No. 11 Robert Sessley (141) and No. 12 Josh Janson (157). Jesse Leng (125) and Blake Kaplan (184) were not seeded. While Rowlands faired the best of the nine qualifying Buckeyes, winning his first NCAA title, Nick Preston advanced into the semifinal rounds before falling to Iowa State’s Cael Sanderson, who ended his career with a flawless and well-renowned 159-0 record.
BREAKING ONTO THE SCENE John Clark had a breakout year in 2002, finishing the season with a 35-10 record after a 22-15 campaign as a freshman. Clark has built on those performances and exhibited his abilities by capturing the crown at the Michigan State open on Nov 10 and the Oklahoma Gold Classis the ensuing week.. In 2001, Clark finished third at the Missouri Open and fourth at the Midlands and went on a eight-match winning streak in which he scored two technical falls and two fall decisions to help the Buckeyes open conference action 3-1. Clark finished second on the team with 132 takedowns and went 7-1 in Big Ten duals in 2002-03.
UP NEXT Following the Las Vegas competition Ohio State will make its way to the campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. for the annual Midlands Tournament.