Dec. 4, 2001

COLUMBUS, Ohio– The Ohio State wrestling team, ranked as high as No. 7 in the national polls, opens its 2001-02 dual match season Dec. 8 with a trip to Allentown, Pa., and the Sheridan Duals hosted by Lehigh University. OSU will face Rider, Rutgers and Lehigh at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m., respectively.

OSU turned many heads in the wrestling world last year by joining national champion Minnesota and Oklahoma as the only teams to qualify all ten of their starting wrestlers for the NCAA championships. Returning for the Buckeyes are Jeff Ratliff (133 lbs.), two-time All-American Robert Sessley (141), Keaton Anderson (149), Josh Janson (157), John Clark (165), Ryan Hieber (174), Anton Talamantes (184), All-American Nick Preston (197) and 2001 national runner-up and Big Ten freshman of the year Tommy Rowlands (HWT). Kore Sharpley (125), the tenth qualifier for the team a year ago, graduated at the end of the 2000-01 season and will be replaced in the lineup by Jesse Leng, a starter in 1999-00 at 125 and 133.

Juniors Josh Daugherty and Joel Walker enter the starting lineup for the Buckeyes this weekend while Ryan Hieber and Robert Sessley nurse injuries sustained in the early part of the season. Both wrestlers earned the starting nod during wrestle-offs held Nov. 30-Dec. 1. STRONG START
OSU opened the year at the Michigan State and Missouri Opens the weekend of Nov. 17-18 with Nick Preston (197) and Anton Talamantes (184) capturing tournament titles at the MSU Open and MU Open, respectively. Both wrestlers posted 4-0 marks on the way to their titles.

Josh Janson, who recorded a team-high 11 wins via pinfall a year ago, again leads the Buckeyes this year with four. Janson garnered the most falls award at the Michigan State Open Nov. 17-18, with his four falls and moved into 14th all-time on the career pins list at OSU with 18.

OSU opens the 2001-02 season ranked No. 7 in the major college wrestling polls. Individually, all nine returning NCAA qualifiers have earned national rankings led by No. 2 Tommy Rowlands, No. 4 Nick Preston and No. 5 Robert Sessley.

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 Broncs of Rider stand 0-2 on the year following losses at No. 9 Nebraska (26-6) and at home against No. 3 Oklahoma (36-6). RU, under the guidance of 24th-year head coach Gary Taylor, opened the year at the Keystone Classic with a third-place finish among nine teams on the strength of five Broncs finishing second in their respective weight classes.

The Buckeyes and Broncs have met on the mats four times with RU holding a 3-1-0 advantage. OSU has lost the previous two meetings including a 21-9 loss at RU in 1999. The Buckeyes are 0-2-0 in the series with Hellickson at the helm.

125- No. 19 Jerold Limongelli (2-2)
133- No. 18 Dave Santamaria (3-3)
141- Mike Harris (3-2)
149- Nick Harrington (5-1)
157- No. 17 Derek Jenkins (3-2)
165- Cory DeBias (1-3)
174- No. 19 Nick Catone (4-1)
184- Bob Pizzto (2-3)
197- Greg Sawyer (2-2)
285- Vinny D’Agustino (3-3)

Twelfth-year head coach John Sacchi and the Scarlet Knights are 0-1 on the year following a 39-3 home loss to No. 3 Oklahoma Dec. 1 after capturing seventh place at the Navy Classic (Nov. 17) and fourth at the Brockport Open (Nov. 10). Greg Austin (149) has led the Scarlet Knights this year with an 11-2 record including first place at the Central New Jersey Open and second place finishes at the Brockport Open and Navy Classic.

Neither team has the advantage in the short-lived series following a tie in the previous meeting. OSU and RU last met in the 1984 campaign and battled to a 21-21 finish. This will be the first dual a Hellickson-led squad will face the Scarlet Knights.

125- Andrew Uhrlass (2-5)
133- Jon Rodriguez (5-4)
141- Ken Rodriguez (2-5)
149- Greg Austin (11-2)
157- Chriss Ressa (5-6)
165- Bryon Lauer (5-4)
174- Justin Hakins (5-3)
184- No. 8 Tom Tanis (0-1)
197- Greg Wrenn (2-4)
285- Frank Sabatino (3-3)

Lehigh is 1-1 this year following a season opening win at home over Pittsburgh, 29-6, and an 18-15 loss at Lock Haven. Seventh-year head coach Greg Strobel’s team finished third at the highly-competitive Las Vegas Invitational Nov. 30-Dec. 1.

Jon Trenge (197) leads the Mountain Hawks with a 10-0 record for the year including the tournament title in Las Vegas last weekend. Mike Pirozzola (149) and Chris Vitale (165) also have performed well for LU. Both have compiled 7-1 records on the year.

Ohio State and Lehigh, both nationally recognized as two of the better programs in the collegiate wrestling, will meet for the first time in each program’s history. LU is one of two teams (Eastern Illinois) the Buckeyes will wrestle for the first time this year.

125- No. 11 Mario Stuart (2-4)
133- Dan Hyman (4-2)
141- Tommy Rohn (2-3)
149- Mike Pirozzola (7-1)
157- Warren Stout (12-7)
165- No. 4 Chris Vitale (7-1)
174- Brad Dillon (5-3)
184- No. 8 Rob Rohn (6-3)
197- No. 3 Jon Trenge (10-0)
285- No. 18 Shawn Laughlin (3-2)

The Buckeyes, originally slated to travel to the Las Vegas Invitational, used the open weekend to hold wrestle-offs and determine the starters for the opening dual matches of the year. Jesse Leng (125), Keaton Anderson (149), Nick Preston (197) and Tommy Rowlands (HWT) did not compete in the wrestle-offs. Leng takes over for recent graduate Kore Sharpley while Anderson, Preston and Rowlands had no challengers in their weight classes.

Jeff Ratliff (133) will start for OSU following a 17-4 major decision over freshman Ryan Derr. Josh Daugherty pinned Chad Redmond to earn the start at 141 while Josh Janson (157) scored an 11-3 major decision over Richie Bordner to make the lineup. John Clark is back at 165 following a 7-3 decision over Derek Koch.

Joel Walker (174) and Anton Talamantes (184) emerged from the two deepest weight classes on the OSU squad to earn the start. Both wrestlers had to win twice to make the lineup.

Members of the Buckeye squad traveled to the Michigan State and Missouri Opens with two wrestlers, Nick Preston and Anton Talamantes, winning the championship title in their respective weight class.

At Missouri, Preston posted a 4-0 mark at 197 to capture the title. In all, eight OSU wrestlers entered the event with seven finishing in the Top 5 of the event including third place finishes by Tommy Rowlands (HWT) and John Clark (165).

Talamantes, like Preston, also went 4-0 on his way to the 184 title at MSU. Keaton Anderson finished second at 149 and Josh Janson, on the strength of his four pinfall wins, took third place as well as the most falls award.

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 four schools from the state of Ohio that will compete in the event. Ashland will represent Division II and John Carroll and Ohio Northern will battle in Division III.

The Buckeyes make a return trip to the Keystone State when they head to Clarion, Pa., for the Clarion Duals. OSU will face intrastate rival Ohio at 1 p.m. followed by a 3 p.m. battle with the host Golden Eagles. The Buckeyes cap the event with a 5 p.m. dual against No. 12 Lock Haven.