Aug. 6, 2004
Columbus, Ohio – An 8-11 dual record in a challenging schedule in the 2003-04 season proved worthy at the conclusion of last season as the Buckeyes tied Lehigh for third at the NCAA championships. Russ Hellickson, who enters his 19th season at Ohio State, will once again look to the same formula as the Buckeyes will trek through perhaps its most daunting schedule in recent seasons. Hellickson and a green Ohio State squad that lost four of its five All-Americans from last season to graduation will face dual meets with eight of the Top 16 teams from the final standings at the 2004 NCAA Championships. Iowa, which claimed runner-up behind Oklahoma State at the 2004 national tournament, will travel to Columbus Feb. 5 before the Buckeyes embark on a three-dual road swing at Michigan, Minnesota and Penn State to close out the season. All three programs placed in the Top 12 at the NCAA championships last season. Ohio State also faces challenges in the early portion of the schedule, beginning with a tri-meet at St. John Arena with Virginia Tech and Missouri Dec. 18. The Tigers finished 13th at nationals last season. “We choose to schedule top programs around the country to prepare our guys for the great wrestlers they will face at the end of the season,” Hellickson said. The opening half of the 2004 schedule once again features the highest level of tournament action in the country. The Buckeyes open the season at the Oklahoma Gold Classic in Brockport, N.Y. Nov. 13, where they face off against several opponents in an open tournament. Highlighting the bill is Oklahoma, which placed ninth at NCAA’s last season and serves as co-host with SUNY-Brockport. Next on the schedule is the annual Michigan State Open (Nov. 20-21) followed by the Las Vegas Invitational (Dec. 3-4), which welcomes top-rated fields in all weight classes. After the first dual matches of the season at the All-Ohio Championships in Athens, Ohio Dec. 11, Ohio State will compete in the 43rd annual Midlands Tournament in Evanston, Ill Dec. 28-29. Departed HWT Tommy Rowlands, the 2004 NCAA and Big Ten champion, wrestled his way to the Midlands title last season. Dual action resumes Jan. 8 as Ohio State welcomes its largest field to the annual Buckeye Duals in St. John Arena. The 2004 rendition features 14 teams that will have the opportunity to wrestle four duals on the day. Illinois, which finished seventh at the NCAA tournament last season, headlines the field of visiting teams, while fellow Big Ten foe Northwestern also will compete in the event. Cleveland State, Northern Illinois and Tennessee-Chattanooga, all of which spent time in the Top 25 last season, also help comprise the field. The next weekend features a trip eastward to Pittsburgh (Jan. 14) and on to Cornell, which took 11th at the 2004 national meet, Jan. 16. The Buckeyes wrestled Cornell on two occasions in 2003, winning tight matches in Ithica, N.Y. and in the National Duals in Columbus. The Big Ten season opens with trek No. 2 to East Lansing, Mich. to take on the Spartans in a dual Jan. 23 before the Buckeyes return to St. John for a four-meet home stand, beginning Jan. 28 against Purdue. A tri-meet with Big Ten rival Indiana and out-of-league opponent Virginia, which took 16th at the 2004 NCAA’s, is next on the docket Jan. 30. The Buckeyes step out of St. John to open the February slate as they host Wisconsin at nearby Worthington-Kilbourne High School (Feb. 4) before heading back to campus for the Iowa dual the next day. After the road swing at Michigan, Minnesota and Penn State to end the regular season, Ohio State will travel to Iowa City for the 2005 Big Ten Championships March 5-6. The Hawkeyes have won the event the last two seasons, with the 2004 title coming at St. John Arena. “We have challenges in every part of the season,” Hellickson said. “It is tremendously important to have the advantage of wrestling the nation’s top teams when heading into the Big Ten and national tournaments. Las Vegas and the Midlands really get the season going and then our last four duals are against Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Penn State. The Iowa meet will be one of the most-watched in the country that weekend. All four are monsters at the end of a schedule, but our season should prepare us for that challenge and the challenge of the postseason tournaments.” Buckeyes who qualify for the national tournament will have the opportunity to match or better the Ohio State performance of 2004. St. Louis will once again serve as the host of the NCAA meet, which is scheduled for March 17-19.
2004 NCAA Championships
Final Team Standings
*2004-05 opponents 1. Oklahoma State 123.5 2. Iowa* 82 3. OHIO STATE 77.5 Lehigh 5. Nebraska 74 6. Iowa State 70 7. Illinois* 69.5 8. Minnesota* 65.5 9. Oklahoma* 62.5 10. Michigan* 60.5 11. Cornell* 51.5 12. Penn State* 46.5 13. Missouri* 43 14. Penn 34 15. Central Michigan 33.5 16. Cal Poly-SLO 31 West Virginia Virginia* 19. Stanford 29.5 20. Hofstra 29