Dec. 27, 2004

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State (1-3, 0-0 Big Ten) wrestles in its final regular season tournament Wednesday and Thursday at the 42nd annual Midlands Championships in Evanston, Ill. Northwestern University serves as the host team.

The event gets underway with first-round action at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.

9:30 a.m. – First Session
7 p.m. – Second Session

Noon – Third Session
7:30 p.m. – First, Third and Fifth-place matches

The Buckeyes opened their home schedule Saturday, Dec. 18 at St. John Arena with a pair of dual matches against Virginia Tech and No. 13 Missouri. The Buckeyes dropped both meets by a 29-12 score to the Hokies in the first match and by a 33-6 count in the finale against the Tigers.

Sophomore J.D. Bergman finished the day with a perfect 2-0 record, which included his second pin of the season against Virginia Tech. In his second bout, Bergman used a late takedown to claim a 3-1 victory with less than 15 seconds in regulation. Several Buckeyes recorded their first wins at home, including freshman T.J. Enright at 133 and juniors Steve Wolery at 149 and Nathaniel Augustson at 174.

With their quick starts to the 2004-05 season, J.D. Bergman and T.J. Enright have found themselves in the national rankings in their respective weight classes. Bergman, who started at No. 3 in preseason polls at 197, is ranked No. 4 by W.I.N. Magazine and No. 6 in the NWCA poll. Enright, unranked at the beginning of the season, is 12th in the W.I.N. rankings and 11th in NWCA.

In the Amatuer Wrestling News, Bergman is fourth and Enright 11th for Dec. 15.

The pre-seeds for the Midlands were announced Dec. 20 and Bergman and Enright both were among the Top 10 in their weight classes.

Bergman is seeded No. 2 at 197 behind 2002 Midlands champ Jon Trenge. Bergman and Trenge were scheduled to meet earlier this season in the NWCA All-Star Classic, but Trenge was forced to withdraw with an injury.

Enright is seeded sixth at 133. Mark Jayne from Illinois, the 2003 Midlands champ will chase his second straight title as the No. 1 seed at 133.

YOUTHFUL BUCKEYES LEADING THE WAY In the four dual matches to open the season, the Buckeyes have featured a lineup with as many as seven freshman, two sophomores and two juniors, who both are wrestling in their first seasons as Buckeyes.

For the year, Ohio State has accumulated 178.0 team points in three tournaments and four dual bouts. Of those 178 points, 87 have come from either a redshirt of true freshman, including 36.5 by T.J. Enright, a redshirt frosh at 133.

When including 149 Steve Wolery, a junior walk-on, and 174 Nathaniel Augustson, a junior transfer from Embry-Riddle, newcomers have accounted for 113.5 of the 178 points in 2004.

After a one-year break from competition at Midlands, Mitch Clark, an Ohio State assistant coach and former national champ for the Buckeyes in 1998, will compete at 197 pounds.

Clark won Midlands at 197 in 1998 and followed with third, fourth, second and sixth place standings in 1999, 2000, `01 and `02. Clark accepted a medical forfeit in 2002 before his scheduled match against former Buckeye and fellow assistant Tommy Rowlands.

Clark and Rowlands are members of the prestigious “20-in-4” club. Rowlands won the HWT division in 2004 en route to joining Clark as just the 16th individual to win 20 matches in four years at Midlands. The Midlands has featured more than 8,000 wrestles in its 41 seasons.

J.D. Bergman competed in the 2004 National Wrestling Coaches Association All-Star Classic in Edwardsville, Ill. Monday, Nov. 22. The returning All-American, who is ranked No. 3 in all individual polls, defeated Scott Barker of Oregon, the No. 7-ranked wrestler in the nation, via an 8-3 decision in the 197-pound bout.

Bergman was slated to face John Trenge of Lehigh, who is rated No. 1 at 197, but Trenge was forced to pull out of the event because of injury.

Early in the match, Bergman trailed Barker, 2-1, after the Duck scored his second escape. Later, Bergman jumped ahead with a takedown on a lateral throw and then took advantage of a missed shot by Barker and scored another takedown to extend his lead to 8-3. After a scoreless third period, Bergman claimed the win via decision.

Bergman is the ninth Buckeye to wrestle in the All-Star event. In the last four seasons, Tommy Rowlands wrestled in the event three times, sitting out once with an injury, while John Clark and Keaton Anderson competed in the 2003 event.

T.J. Enright’s consecutive tournament titles at 133 pounds to open the season account for an Ohio State first. With tournament crowns at the Oklahoma Gold Classic Nov. 13 and Michigan State Open Nov. 21, the Galloway, Ohio native has become the first freshman to win his initial two tournaments in the Russ Hellickson era, which dates back to 1986.

T.J. Enright gained his second tournament title in the opening two weeks of the 2004 wrestling season, winning the 133-pound class at the 2004 Michigan State Open in East Lansing, Mich. With the tourney crown, Enright was named Big Ten wrestler of the week for Nov. 23.

Enright was named outstanding wrestler for the 2004 MSU Open after recording falls in three of his four victories en route to the championship. In the event final vs. Kyle Stoffer of Central Michigan, Enright recorded pin No. 3 at the 4:27 mark of the match to seal the 133 crown.

Enright, the No. 5 seed, upended top-seed and 2004 NWCA All-Star Sam Hiatt of Northern Illinois in the semifinal, 3-1. The tournament crown is the second for Enright this season after winning the Oklahoma Gold Classic last weekend. He is 8-0 on the season with three falls.

Northwestern and offered an early look at the favorites in the 10 weight classes based on team and individual entries.

125 lbs. — Five of the top nine collegians will be entered into this weight class, with Kyle Ott (Illinois), as the lead-of-the-pack and favorite to win. Other competitors include Nick Simmons (Michigan St.), Joe Dubuque (Indiana), Matt Pitts (Tenn.-Chattanooga), and Efren Ceballos (California-Bakersfield). Midland’s place winners from 2003 returning are John Velez, Northwestern (4th), and Adam Smith, Penn St. (7th).

133 lbs. — Defending champion Zach Roberson, an Iowa State graduate, may return for Sunkist Kids in this division. But 2003 runner-up Mark Jayne (Illinois) may be the man to beat. Other challengers are Matt Sanchez (Cal-Bakersfield), Sam Hiatt (Northern Illinois), Dave Hoffman (Virginia Tech) and Josh Keefe (Tennessee-Chattanooga).

141 lbs. — Nate Gallick (Iowa State) appears to be the number one collegian. Challengers are Michigan State’s Andy Simmons, West Virginia’s Brandon Lauer and Stanford’s Brad Metzler. Others challenging for the title include Doug McGraw (Pennsylvania), Michael Martin (Illinois), Max Meltzer (Harvard), and Ryan Lang (Northwestern).

149 lbs. — A wide-open weight class that will sort itself out in what appears to be a very even field. Coming in as the favorite is number one Trent Paulson (Iowa State). Nipping at his heels will be Ty Eustice (Iowa), Jeff Harrison (Northern Iowa), Josh Wooten (Northern Illinois), Anton Dietzen (Illinois) and James Woodall (Penn State).

157 lbs. — This division stands out as the loaded weight. All eight 2003 place winners are expected to return. This includes Midlands champion, Alex Tirapelle (Illinois), and Matt Gentry (Stanford) and the defending NCAA champion. The rest of the class includes Jake Percival (Ohio University), Travis Paulson (Iowa State), Matt Lebe (West Virginia), Brian Cobb (Schutz Wrestling Club), Derek Zinck (Lehigh) and Joe Johnston (Iowa). Chris Bono of the Sunkist Kids, with 36 career Midland wins may also return.

165 lbs. — The defending champion, David Bolyard (Central Michigan), will be tough to beat. However, if 2004 NCAA champion Troy Letters (Lehigh) enters, he would be ranked on top. Other competitors include Nick Possolano (Iowa State), Matt Ellis (Oregon State), Matt Palmer (Columbia), Chris Stith (Virginia Tech), Jon Sioredas (Tennessee-Chattanooga), Mike Patrovich (Hofstra) and Zach Fryling (WVU).

174 lbs. — If 10-time winner Joe Williams enters, he would be the undisputed favorite to win this weight class, as he recently won the 2004 Sunkist Open. Otherwise, the number one seed could be Eric Hauan (N. Iowa). Others that might finish high include Pete Friedl (Illinois), Shane Webster (Oregon), Travis Frick (Lehigh), Andrew Roy (Rutgers), Mitch Hancock (Central Michigan), J. J. Holmes (E. Michigan), Imad Kharbush (Stanford) and Jake Herbert (Northwestern).

184 lbs. — Defending Midlands and NCAA Champion Greg Jones (WVU) is the solid favorite here. His challengers are Paul Bradley (Iowa), Brian Glynn (Illinois), Kurt Backes (Iowa State), Eric Bradley (Penn St.), Tyson Thivierge (Chattanooga Wrestling Club), and Dan Pitsch (Oregon State) and Ed Magrsy (Eastern Michigan).

197 lbs. — 2002 Champion Jon Trenge (Lehigh) is expected to return and would be the obvious favorite. Trenge has 16 wins in his first three Midlands and could join the prestigious “20 in Four Club” with four wins in 2004. Only sixteen men have accomplished this feat out of almost 8,000 Midlands participants. His challengers are Emmett Willson, a Montana Northern graduate and 2003 Champion, J. D. Bergman (Ohio State), Scott Barker (Oregon), Matt Monteiro (Cal-Bakersfield), Sean Stender (Northern Iowa), Pat DeGain (Indiana), and Tyrone Byrd (Illinois).

Heavyweight — The big boys offer yet another wide-open weight class. Competitors are Chad Lamer (Hawkeye WC), Matt Feist (Pennsylvania), Scott Coleman (Iowa State), Brent Miller (West Virginia), Mike Faust (Virginia Tech), Bode Ogunwole (Harvard), Bill Stouffer (Central Michigan), and Mike Behnke (Illinois). 2003 champ, Tommy Rowlands, who concluded his career at Ohio State last season will not wrestle at Midlands this season.

Tommy Rowlands (HWT/ Hilliard, Ohio) captured his first Midlands title as he led the Buckeyes to a Top 10 finish at the event. Illinois captured the team title with 102.5 team points, edging Iowa State, which tallied 93.0 points over the two-day event.

Rowlands joined the “20-in-4 club” as a wrestler who has won 20 matches in his collegiate career at the Midlands with his five victories en route to the title. In the finals, Rowlands met No. 7-seed Chad Lamer, who competed with the Hawkeye Wrestling Club, and downed the former Iowa star by a 12-7 ledger to win his first Midlands championship at the prestigious event.

Blake Kaplan, at 174, and Jeff Ratliff, at 149, each finished fifth. Freshmen J.D. Bergman (197/ Oak Harbor, Ohio) and Alex Picazo (174/ Columbus, Ohio) earned two wins in the event before being eliminated in the early rounds Tuesday.

Ohio State wrestling head coach Russ Hellickson served as play-by-play announcer for NBC’s coverage of the 2004 Olympic Games Aug. 13-29 in Athens, Greece. Hellickson, who was a part of his sixth Olympic broadcast team, teamed with Jeff Blatnick for both Greco and Freestyle wrestling.

Hellickson previously covered wrestling at the 1984, ’88, ’92, ’96 and 2000 Olympic games in the role of analyst at the 1984 Los Angeles games and as play-by-play from 1988 in Seoul, Korea through 2000 in Sydney, Australia. As a wrestler, he was an Olympic silver medallist at the 1976 games in Montreal and a member of the 1980 U.S. team that boycotted Olympics in Moscow.

Tommy Rowlands, whose national crown at the HWT class in 2004 touts him as the only four-time All-American in program history and just the second Buckeye to win two NCAA titles, will remain with Ohio State in 2004 as an assistant coach.

Rowlands will assume the volunteer position and offer the expertise that allowed him to conclude his career as the most decorated wrestler in Ohio State history. Rowlands, who narrowly missed a spot on the U.S. Olympic team at 211 pounds in May, is the all-time leader at Ohio State in career wins (164), career team points (702.0) and career takedowns (705). His career record of 164-14 (.921) ranks fourth all-time in winning percentage at OSU, while his 44 wins in 2004 and 43 triumphs in 2001 rank fourth and fifth all-time in a single season.

Following six seasons as a volunteer coach at Ohio State, Mitch Clark joins the Buckeye staff in a full-time capacity in 2004-05.

In his term as a volunteer assistant, Clark helped the Buckeyes to a pair of Top 6 finishes in the nation, including a tie for third place at the 2004 NCAA championships last March. The former two-time All-American and 1998 national champion at 177 pounds also helped his brother John Clark to his second All-American at the 2004 NCAA’s.

M. Clark capped his wrestling career at Ohio State with a 39-1 record and the national crown his senior season, which followed a national runner-up finish his junior campaign. A two-time Big Ten champion, M. Clark ranks 10th in career wins, being passed by John last season.

After sending brothers John (2000-2004) and Mitch Clark (1994-98) to glory at the NCAA championships as each earned multiple All-America honors with Mitch winning the 1998 national championship, Russ Hellickson welcomes a third Clark brother, Charlie Clark.

As a senior last season, C. Clark helped Blair Academy to a New Jersey state championship after earning national high school All-American status. Clark will wrestle at 165 in 2004-05.

Ohio State returns home after the new year for the annual Buckeye Duals Sat. Jan. 8 at St. John Arena. Matches start at 11 a.m.