May 15, 2004
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The 2004 Ohio State wrestling team celebrated perhaps the finest season in team history at the annual postseason banquet Saturday afternoon at The Blackwell. Five Buckeyes who earned All-America honors received their awards from the NCAA, while team accolades also were handed out. Senior Tommy Rowlands, a two-time national champion and four-time All-American at heavyweight, was named 2004 Most Outstanding Wrestler and Most Dedicated Wrestler after completing his senior season with an overall mark of 44-1 and his second NCAA and Big Ten championships. Fellow seniors, John Clark and Blake Kaplan, joined Rowlands as team tri-captains after a team vote following the conclusion of the season.
The banquet capped an eventful week for the Buckeyes as the five All-Americans and coaching staff were invited to the Columbus Statehouse Tuesday to be honored by the Ohio Senate for their third-place achievements at the NCAA championship meet in March.
The newly-donned captains and fellow senior Jeff Ratliff (Marion, Ohio/ Harding) along with freshman J.D. Bergman (Oak Harbor, Ohio/ Oak Harbor) all were given their NCAA All-American plaques at the beginning of the ceremony. In addition to Rowlands’ second NCAA crown, Clark (Canton, N.Y./ Canton) claimed his second straight All-America honor after placing fifth at 165 pounds. Kaplan (Cincinnati, Ohio/ Sycamore) also took fifth at 184, while Ratliff concluded his career in eighth place at 149. Bergman, who went 32-15 in his initial season, reeled off seven straight wins to claim third at 197 pounds in his first national meet.
Senior Jesse Leng (Hinckley, Ohio/ Highland), who battled injuries his entire career, also was recognized with a plaque dedicated to his Buckeye career. Leng placed eighth at 133 pounds while wrestling injured at the 2004 Big Ten Championships. Leng qualified for the NCAA meet his sophomore season in 2002.
Statistical awards were passed out as well as Rowlands (Hilliard, Ohio/ Bishop Ready), the all-time leader at OSU in wins, takedowns and team points, earned honors for topping the team in the same categories in 2004. Kaplan was presented as back points leader, while Bergman was rewarded for his squad-best 12 falls.
Freshman Alex Picazzo (Grandview, Ohio/ Grandview Hgts.), who wrestled part of the season at 174 pounds, was recognized at the team’s Scholar-Athlete winner with a grade-point average of 3.89.
The day was concluded with a team-highlight video and addresses from the five departing seniors. Complete season statistics and a comprehensive recap of the 2004 campaign may be accessed at www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com.