Dec. 27, 2001

COLUMBUS, Ohio– The No. 7 Ohio State wrestling team will take a break from dual action with a trip to the Midlands in Evanston, Ill., Dec. 29-30. The event is held annually on the campus of Northwestern University and features some of the top current and former collegiate athletes in the nation.

Ohio State’s heavyweight Tommy Rowlands was selected by the Big Ten as its wrestler of the week for the week ending Dec. 16. Rowlands dominated the competition at the Clarion Duals (Dec. 16) to help the Buckeyes remain undefeated at 6-0. Rowlands won two of his three matches by technical falls and the third match was by pinfall. It is the first weekly honor earned by an OSU wrestler this year and the first for Rowlands, the 2001 Big Ten freshman of the year, in his career.

Ohio State assistant coach and former national champion Mitch Clark will take the mats at the Midlands for the fourth time in his wrestling career with the chance to earn entry into an elite group of competitors. With four wins at the Midlands this weekend, Clark will join the “20-4” club, 20 wins in four years of competition. Clark is 17-3 all-time at the tournament is one of three wrestlers this year that could join the 11 others in the group. Iowa State’s Cael Sanderson (197) and Penn’s Yoshi Nakamura (157) are the others in line for the honor.

Senior Nick Preston is a perfect 10-0 this year at 197 and ranked No. 4 in the nation. He also is one win shy of attaining the 100th victory in his Ohio State career. Preston will break the century mark with a win at the Midlands. He is 99-42 in his three-plus seasons with the Buckeyes and 51-16 in dual matches.

The Buckeyes are not only beating a majority of their opponents this year, they are beating a majority of them by more than seven points. Ohio State is 124-58 individually this year and have won nearly 43 percent of their matches by major decision, technical fall and pinfall. OSU has won 30 matches by major decision (a margin of victory between eight and 14 points), seven by technical fall (15 points or more) and 16 by pinfall. TEAM STRONG
At 6-0 this year and two wins over Top 15 teams in Lehigh and Lock Haven, the Buckeyes have shown they are deserving of the No. 7 national ranking they have attained. Seventh in the nation is where they have been all year and cracking the Top 5 will be a tough task.

Minnesota, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Michigan, Iowa and Iowa State, in that order, are the Top 6 in the nation and have dominated early this year. Ohio State will meet Minnesota, Iowa and Michigan this year in Big Ten action and possibly the others at the National Duals. Wins over these teams could propell OSU closer to the top.

The perfect record Ohio State has so far this year is a great start for the team, but it is not the best under Russ Hellickson. During the 1989-90 campaign, the Buckeyes raced out to a 9-0 start on their way to a 20-5 record and a fifth-place finish in the Big Ten (5-3).

Russ Hellickson also is approaching a milestone. With OSU’s 6-0 start this season, Hellickson needs four more wins to record the 300th victory of his 20 year coaching career. To date, Hellickson is 225-124-6 while at the helm of the Buckeye program and 296-146-6 all-time. Here is a list of his other milestone wins.

Career Wins No. 1 H-Indiana, 27-14* 1/8/83 No. 50 H-Michigan, 23-13* 1984-85 No. 100 A-Clarion, 23-21 12/9/88 No. 150 A-Purdue, 20-16 1/27/91 No. 200 H-Illinois, 24-6 2/13/94 No. 250 H-Clarion, 23-17 1/17/98 * at the University of Wisconsin

Ohio State Wins No. 1 H-Indiana, 30-6 1/3/87 No. 50 N-Michigan, 35-9 11/24/89 No. 100 H-Clarion, 23-19 2/21/92 No. 150 N-James Madison, 34-6 2/4/95 No. 200 N-Binghampton, 37-9 1/16/00

Russ Hellickson enters his 16th year of head coaching duties with the Scarlet and Gray and his 20th overall. Hellickson stands 290-146-6 overall and 219-124-6 with the Buckeyes. Under Hellickson’s guidance, OSU has produced at least one All-American 12 years in a row and four wrestlers have captured a total of five 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.

The Midlands event held annually in Evanston, Ill., on the campus of Northwestern University. Fifty-seven collegiate teams from all three NCAA divisions as well as eight club teams will be represented at the event as nearly 250 wrestlers will fill Welsh-Ryan Arena for the two day tournament. To date, 7,325 wrestlers have competed in the event with 243 of those wrestlers having won a championship title.

The Buckeyes will be well represented this year. Ohio State’s starting 10 and several unattached Buckeyes will make the trip to battle for the top spot in each of the 10 weight classes. Former Buckeye Mitch Clark also will compete, this time with Ohio International Wrestling Club.

OSU finished fifth in the team standings a year ago with 66 points as Minnesota took the team title with 144 points. Individually, six Buckeyes placed in the event led by the third-place finish of Tommy Rowlands at heavyweight. Rowlands defeated Mitch Clark by forfeit. Robert Sessley took fifth at 141 with Nick Preston (sixth at 197), Jeff Ratliff (seventh at 133) and Ryan Hieber (eighth at 174) also placing in their respective divisions.

Ohio State has seven of its ten starters listed in the pretournament rankings released Dec. 26. Tommy Rowlands leads the way as he projected to finish second in the event with Jeff Ratliff and Mitch Clark each projected for a fourth-place finish at 133 and heavyweight, respectively. The official tournament seeding will be released Dec. 28.

Here is how OSU fits into the Top 8 rankings.
125- Jesse Leng, not ranked
133- Jeff Ratliff, 4th
141- Robert Sessley, 5th
149- Keaton Anderson, 6th
157- Josh Janson, not ranked
165- John Clark, 6th
174- Ryan Hieber, not ranked
184- Anton Talamantes, 6th
197- Nick Preston, 5th
285- Tommy Rowlands, 2nd
285- Mitch Clark, 4th

The Buckeyes and Bobcats renewed the battle for Ohio in the opening of the Clarion Duals with Ohio State claiming a 32-4 decision in the team race to improve to 4-0 on the year. OSU won nine of the 10 individual matches including the first six to take the early 22-0 lead. Tommy Rowlands won by technical fall while Anton Talamantes, Jeff Ratliff and John Clark added major decision wins to aid the Buckeye effort. Ohio slipped to 0-4.

Host Clarion and Ohio State met in the second dual with the Buckeyes dominating the mats in a 45-0 victory. OSU moved to 5-0 with the win that was fueled by pinfall wins from Tommy Rowlands, Josh Daugherty and Ryan Hieber. Anton Talamantes and John Clark also contributed to the win with technical fall wins. CU fell to 0-4.

In a battle of Top 15 teams, No. 7 Ohio State improved to 6-0 with a 28-11 win over previously-unbeaten and 11th-ranked Lock Haven (7-1). Tommy Rowlands shined again with his second technical fall win of the day to help OSU open an 11-0 lead. LHU fought back with three wins to get the score to 15-11, but the Buckeyes won the final three matches to secure the win. Anton Talamantes, Nick Preston, Jeff Ratliff, Josh Janson, John Clark and Ryan Hieber all won to join Rowlands with perfect 3-0 records at the duals.

St. John Arena, the former home of men’s and women’s basketball, houses the Buckeyes’ home wrestling meets, men’s and women’s volleyball and men’s and women’s gymnastics. Constructed in 1956, the 13,276 capacity venue has hosted three men’s NCAA championship basketball games and will be the home of the NWCA Cliff Keen National Duals for Division I and the placing matches for Division II and III.

The 2002 Cliff Keen/National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) National Duals will be a historic occasion. For the first time in event history, all three divisions (I, II and III) will hold their respective duals in one location concurrently when the duals come to Ohio State University Jan. 19-20.

In a span of two days, St. John Arena and French Field House will be transformed into the home of the duals with 12 mats to accommodate a total of 90 duals. Division I will hold all of its matches in St. John Arena and will welcome the other two divisions into the arena for their respective placing duals. The smaller divisions will wrestle the earlier round duals in French before moving to the arena.

Ohio State is one of five schools from the state of Ohio that will compete in the event. Ashland and Findlay will represent Division II and John Carroll and Ohio Northern will battle in Division III.

The Buckeyes will try to secure the 300th victory in Russ Hellickson’s coaching career when Ohio State plays host to the Buckeye Duals, Jan. 5. The event starts at Noon in St. John Arena when OSU takes on Buffalo. The Buckeyes also will meet Northern Illinois at 1:30 p.m., Eastern Michigan at 3 p.m. and Eastern Illinois at 4:30 p.m. Indiana and Tennessee-Chattanooga also will compete in the duals.