May 11, 2004

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Five members of the 2004 Ohio State wrestling team were invited to the Columbus Statehouse Tuesday to be honored by the Ohio Senate for their All-American achievements at the NCAA championship meet in March. Seniors John Clark, Blake Kaplan, Jeff Ratliff and Tommy Rowlands, and freshman J.D. Bergman claimed All-America honors in helping Ohio State solidify a tie for third place at the national meet, the highest team finish in the history of Buckeye wrestling.

Steve Stiver, Ohio Senate member who represents the 16th district, led the ceremony as he presented Rowlands, a two-time NCAA heavyweight champion and four-time All-American, with the first resolution of recognition. Rowlands not only was recognized for his national achievements, but also his impact on the Ohio State records book as Stiver, who represents Rowlands’ hometown of Hilliard, Ohio, announced each of heavyweight’s career and season standards. Rowlands is the all-time OSU leader in team points (702), takedowns (705) and wins with 164.

Stiver also handled the resolution presentation for Clark, a native of Canton, N.Y. One of just nine two-time All-Americans in OSU annals, Clark scored fifth place at 165 pounds at the 2004 NCAA’s and completed his career in the Top 4 in Ohio State history in career team points, takedowns and victories.

Senator Larry Mumper presided over District 26, which includes the hometowns of Bergman and Ratliff. Mumper assumed the duties of introducing Ratliff, a 149-pounder out of Marion, Ohio, with his resolution after an eighth-place finish at nationals and a career that included 113 career wins, more than 400 takedowns and nearly 400 career points. Bergman, a product of Oak Harbor, Ohio, was the lone non-senior in the group and was rewarded for his six-match win streak that earned third-place at 197 pounds at the national tournament. Overall, Bergman recorded 32 wins in his freshman season and a team-best 12 falls. The last Buckeye to be honored was Cincinnati native Kaplan, who received his award from Lou Blessing of the 8th district. Kaplan capped his career at Ohio State with a fifth-place finish at 184 pounds and 42 wins, which ranks sixth all-time in a single season.

The ceremony was concluded with a brief speech from Ohio State head coach Russ Hellickson and a address by Jim Jordan, a senator representing the 12th district and a former wrestler under Hellickson at Wisconsin. Assistants Ken Ramsey and Mitch Clark also represented the OSU coaching staff.

The ceremony was originally scheduled for Tuesday, May 4, but was pushed back because Rowlands traveled to Guatemala to compete in the 211-pound weight class at the 2004 Pan American Championships March 6-7 in preparation for the U.S. Olympic Trials May 21-23 in Indianapolis. Rowlands emerged from the Pan Ams with a silver medal, dropping a tight 3-2 decision in the 211 final.

The entire Ohio State team and coaching staff will celebrate the 2004 season at the annual postseason banquet Saturday at the Blackwell Inn.