COLUMBUS, Ohio After wrapping up the regular season with a 16-2 overall record, including a 7-1 mark in the Big Ten Conference, the sixth-ranked Ohio State wrestling team will travel to University Park, Pa., for the 2009 Big Ten Championships March 7-8 at the Bryce Jordan Center.
The Buckeyes are seeking their first league title since 1951. In all, they have two conference crowns to their credit as they also won in 1923.
CHECK IT OUT
The Big Ten Network will broadcast the finals of the Big Ten championships at 2 p.m. March 8.
JOHNSTONE, TRIGGAS PREVIEW CHAMPIONSHIPS
Log onto OhioStateBuckeyes.com and watch senior Jason Johnstone and sophomore Nikko Triggas preview the 2009 Big Ten Championships in University, Park, Pa.
To access the video, choose wrestling in the sports pull-down menu. The Buckeye Vision video is on the right-hand side of the wrestling homepage.
Big Ten coaches Tom Ryan, Tom Brands (Iowa) and Troy Sunderland (Penn State) will appear in a pre-tournament press conference at 2:30 p.m. March 6 in the Bryce Jordan Center Media Room.
In all, Ohio State has crowned 33 individual Big Ten champions. Junior Mike Pucillo is the Buckeyes’ most recent champion, winning the 184-pound title last year in Minneapolis.
All-Time Ohio State Big Ten Champions
Year Wrestler Weight
1921 Parry Martter 158
1922 Parry Martter 145
1924 Harry Steel HWT
1926 Perry Snider 125
Dan Whitacre HWT
1927 Dan Whitacre HWT
1935 Leonard Fauver 118
1940 Tony Montonaro 145
1945 George Bollas HWT
1946 George Bollas HWT
1948 Warren Jones 145
1949 Bryce Keough 155
1950 William Miller HWT
1951 Bryce Keough 147
William Miller HWT
1960 Dave Camaione 123
1966 Dave Reinbolt 167
1968 Roger Young 130
1972 Jim Humphrey 134
1982 Dave Ruckman 167
1985 Don Moxley HWT
1988 Mark Coleman 190
1991 Kevin Randleman 167
1992 Kevin Randleman 177
Rex Holman 190
1993 Kevin Randleman 177
Rex Holman 190
1994 Dunyasha Yetts 142
1997 Mitch Clark 177
1998 Mitch Clark 177
2002 Tommy Rowlands HWT
2004 Tommy Rowlands HWT
2008 Mike Pucillo 184
For the second-consecutive season, junior Mike Pucillo finished the Big Ten regular-season schedule with a perfect 8-0 record. As a 2008 NCAA Champion, Pucillo compiled an overall record of 34-1, including a dual mark of 21-0. In 2008-09 Pucillo owns a 16-0 overall and dual ledger.
Head coach Tom Ryan, who earned his 150th career win vs. Illinois Feb. 15, led the Buckeyes to seven wins in the Big Ten following a 24-18 victory over Wisconsin Feb. 22. The 2008-09 Buckeyes are the first squad to compile seven conference wins since 1991-92.
SAVING THE BEST FOR LAST
With his 6-2 decision over Ben Jordan of Wisconsin Feb. 22 to wrap up the Big Ten regular season, senior Jason Johnstone earned his 20th victory of 2008-09, a career best.
THINGS TO NOTE
With the weekend sweep of Northwestern’s Bobby Joyce (11-5) and Wisconsin’s Tom Kelliher (13-3), junior Reece Humphrey earned his third and fourth Big Ten victory, surpassing his career best from a year ago. He also passed his career total in pins with eight this season at Michigan Feb. 13.
Senior Jason Johnstone passed his season-best 63 takedowns from a season ago with his 63rd, 64th, 65th, 66th and 67th takedowns during the Buckeyes’ weekend match-ups vs. Northwestern and Wisconsin.
Solidifying the win against Northwestern for the Buckeyes, junior Corey Morrison earned his 19th win of the season, a career best. His previous high was 13 in 2006-07. He also tallied four Big Ten wins this year, which also stands as a personal best.
Nikko Triggas was named Big Ten wrestler of the week, the conference announced Feb. 17. This is Triggas’ first-career weekly laurel. The 125-pounder (20-13) was instrumental in helping the Buckeyes to a 2-0 record Feb. 13 and 15 after recording two pins against No. 17 Michigan and No. 8 Illinois. The back-to-back pins gave the native of Moraga, Calif., a team leading 12 falls on the season.
Triggas needed just 5:38 to down both his opponents. With the Buckeyes down, 14-11, against the Wolverines, Triggas pinned 17th-ranked Michael Watts in 2:02 to give Ohio State its first lead of the match. The Buckeyes would go on to win two of their next three matches in the 26-17 triumph.
He followed that performance with another critical pin of B.J. Futrell of Illinois in the Buckeyes’ home finale. Ohio State held a slim 14-10 lead after consecutive losses at 197 pounds and heavyweight and just three matches remaining. Triggas increased the Buckeye margin to 20-10 when he downed Futrell in 3:36 after finishing the first period against Futrell trailing, 4-2. With the pin, Triggas helped the Buckeyes post a 26-13 victory over eighth-ranked Illinois.
For the season, Ohio State has collected five Big Ten wrestler of the week honors. Senior J Jaggers (141) was a recipient Jan. 13. Junior Mike Pucillo (184) won Jan. 6, while juniors Corey Morrison (HWT) and Reece Humphrey (133) won Dec. 16 and Nov. 14, respectively.
A LOOK BACK – 2008 BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIPS
Mike Pucillo, a redshirt-sophomore, became a Big Ten champion at 184 pounds in the 2008 Big Ten Conference Championships at Williams Arena in Minneapolis. It was Pucillo’s first league title and Ohio State’s first individual crown since 2004 (Tommy Rowlands).As a team, the Buckeyes finished fifth with 92.5 points.
Senior heavyweight J.D. Bergman was runner-up. Bergman lost a 2-0 decision to Dustin Fox of Northwestern, the second seed. In his four-year career with the Buckeyes, Bergman is a three-time Big Ten championship runner-up. He was second at 197 pounds in 2004 and 2007.
Redshirt-junior J Jaggers had his best league championship outing with a third-place finish at 141 pounds. Jaggers pinned Northwestern’s and No. 7-seed Keith Sulzer in 2:41 for his spot on the podium.
Freshman 125-pounder Nikko Triggas finished sixth at his first Big Ten championship. The native of Moraga, Calif., dropped a 10-4 decision to eighth-seed Collin Cudd of Wisconsin.
At 133 pounds, redshirt-sophomore Reece Humphrey was the first Buckeye to place , finishing seventh. Humphrey defeated Penn State’s Tim Hass, 14-4 in the seventh-place matchup to earn his bid to the NCAA championships.
After medical defaulting, sophomore Lance Palmer finished sixth at 149 pounds. In his first match of session three, Palmer dropped an 8-6 decision to No. 6-seed Jake Patacsil of Purdue.
Redshirt-junior Jason Johnstone was an NCAA qualifier at 157 pounds with a fourth-place finish. Johnstone lost his third-place bout to Indiana’s and third-seed Brandon Becker, 9-0. Johnstone won his third-consecutive match of the championships, 7-5, in his first bout of session three against Michigan’s and sixth-seed Jeff Marsh in overtime.
Head coach Tom Ryan reached the 150-win plateau following Ohio State’s 26-13 victory over Illinois Feb. 15. In 14 seasons as a head coach, Ryan has compiled a 152-96-1 record (.610). Prior to arriving on the Ohio State campus, Ryan coached at Hofstra for 11 seasons and amassed a 109-83-1 record. So far, as the Buckeye head coach, Ryan is 43-13 (.768).
With the 26-13 win against Illinois Feb. 15, Ohio State snapped a 10-match win streak by the Illini. Before their most recent victory, the Buckeyes’ last win against Illinois was Feb. 13, 1994 in Columbus. Ohio State’s last road win was Jan. 25, 1991.
Last season, Ohio State came up short by one point, falling, 19-18, in Champaign.
After dropping 14-consecutive matches to Michigan, Ohio State now has won consecutive meetings. The Buckeyes snapped the Wolverines’ 14-year stronghold last season with a 16-15 win in St. John Arena in Columbus. This season, the Scarlet and Gray bettered the Maize and Blue, 26-17, in Ann Arbor.
SOMETHING TO PONDER
Junior Mike Pucillo owns a 43-match win streak dating back to the Buckeyes’ match vs. Wisconsin Dec. 10, 2007. In 2008-09, Pucillo has compiled a 16-0 overall record with wins over five Top 20 wrestlers.
Sophomore Nikko Triggas recorded back-to-back pins during the weekend (Feb. 13-15) for his team-leading 12 pins on the season. He needed just 5:38 to down both his opponents. With the Buckeyes down, 14-11, against the Wolverines, Triggas pinned 17th-ranked Michael Watts in 2:02 to give Ohio State its first lead of the match. Triggas followed that performance with another critical pin of B.J. Futrell of Illinois in the Buckeyes’ home finale. Ohio State held a slim 14-10 lead after consecutive losses at 197 pounds and heavyweight and just three matches remaining. Triggas increased the Buckeye margin to 20-10 when he downed Futrell in 3:36 after finishing the first period against Futrell trailing, 4-2.
A LITTLE BIT OF THIS, A LITTLE BIT OF THAT
Colt Sponseller recorded his team-leading 28th win (4 losses) at Northwestern Feb. 20 and finished the Big Ten regular season 7-1. Mike Pucillo remains undefeated at 16-0 and concluded his conference ledger 8-0 for the second consecutive season.Junior Lance Palmer also wrapped up the regular-season league schedule undefeated (6-0).
SO LONG SENIORS
Ohio State celebrated the careers of four seniors prior to its match against Illinois Feb. 15. Wes Bergman, J Jaggers, Jason Johnstone and Owen Schaefer were honored in a pre-match ceremony.
Ohio State finished the regular season with a 16-2 overall record, including a 7-1 mark in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes earned wins against 13 Top 25 teams No. 17 Edinboro (19-12), No. 21 Northern Iowa (32-12), No. 5 Missouri (23-19), No. 16 Boise State (21-12), No. 11 Minnesota (25-12), No. 20 Hofstra (19-13), No. 19 Indiana (18-16), No. 22 Penn State (33-7), No. 25 Purdue (28-10), No. 17 Michigan (26-17), No. 8 Illinois (26-13), No. 19 Northwestern (23-18) and No. 16 Wisconsin (24-18).
Sophomore Colt Sponseller leads the Buckeyes with 132 takedowns. Reece Humphrey is second on the team with 70, while Jason Johnstone rounds out the Top 3 with 67.
Sean Nemec, who saw his first action in dual competition at Edinboro, is first on the team in major decisions with seven, while Mike Pucillo and Sponseller are tied for second on the team with six. Sponseller also paces the squad with five technical falls and Nikko Triggas is the team leader in falls with 13.
BIG TEN UPDATE
Ohio State finished second in the Big Ten Conference regular-season standings with a 7-1 record. Iowa won the league with a perfect 8-0 ledger. Rounding out the Top 3 was Illinois at 6-2. Michigan (5-2-1), Minnesota (5-3) and Wisconsin (3-5) finished fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively, while Indiana (2-5-1) and Northwestern tied for seventh place. With a 1-6-2 record, Penn State is ninth and Michigan State is 10th at 1-7-0. Purdue finished 11th (1-6-1).
BEST OF THE BEST
J Jaggers, the reigning NCAA champion at 141 pounds, was named Collegiate Athlete of the Year by the Greater Cleveland Athletic Sports Commission Jan. 21 in a special ceremony in Cleveland.
“To even be nominated for such an award, especially in such a talent-rich area like Cleveland, was an honor and I’m very grateful to have been selected as the top college athlete,” Jaggers, a native of Northfield, Ohio, said. “It was an amazing event and a very special night for everyone involved.”
In his junior campaign, Jaggers went 5-0 at the 2008 NCAA Championships, upsetting the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 seeds as the sixth-seed to claim his first national title and earn his second All-America nod.
In 2008-09, Ohio State collected five Big Ten Wrestler of the Week honors. Junior Reece Humphrey garnered the Buckeyes’ first laurel back in November following his championship performance in the 133-pound division at the Buffalo Open Nov. 2. Humphrey won four matches at the event as the No. 1 seed by pinning two of his opponents and winning by a technical fall and decision.
Junior Corey Morrison became the Scarlet and Gray’s second recipient Dec. 16 after he decisioned eighth-ranked Joey Fendone, 5-3, of 17th-ranked Edinboro in the match-deciding bout at heavyweight. With the win, Morrison handed Fendone his first loss of the season.
Teammate Mike Pucillo earned the conference honor Jan. 6 when he held off sixth-ranked Dustin Kilgore of Kent State with a pair of takedowns and an escape in the 6-1 victory at 184 pounds.
After posting a 5-0 record, including upsets over the Nos. 8 and 10 wrestlers in the country at the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals at 141 pounds, senior J Jaggers received the weekly honor Jan. 13.
Most recently, the Big Ten named sophomore Nikko Triggas the wrestler of the week (Feb. 17) after he recorded back-to-back pins against Michigan and Illinois.
Sophomore Colt Sponseller was named TheMat.com’s wrestler of the week Dec. 15 following his match-changing performance against Edinboro’s third-ranked Jarrod King at 165 pounds. With Ohio State trailing the Fighting Scots, 9-7, Sponseller’s 4-1 victory over King led the way toward the Buckeye win. King was undefeated before his encounter with Sponseller.
Both of Lance Palmer’s losses this season have come at the hands of NC State’s Darrion Caldwell. Palmer, who owns a 22-2 record, faced Caldwell in the final of the Wolfpack Open and dropped a tight 2-1 decision. Palmer then encountered Caldwell again in the final of the Las Vegas Invitational and was pinned in 1:05.
In his junior campaign, the Columbia Station, Ohio, native has racked up 34 takedowns, seven pins and three major decisions, owning a perfect 14-0 dual record.
QUIETLY MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Sophomore Colt Sponseller has surpassed his win total from a season ago. Forced to sit out the beginning of the 2007-08 season because of injury, Sponseller would end that campaign with a 16-4 record. In 2008-09, Sponseller has totaled 28 wins, with just four losses.
The Glenmont, Ohio, native leads Ohio State with 132 takedowns, while also recording five technical falls, four pins and four major decisions.
DOWN YOU GO
Of Nikko Triggas’ team-best 13 pins, five have been under two minutes, including a 40-second pin vs. Pete Cole of Alfred State in the Buffalo Open.
Nikko Triggas Pins (under two minutes)
:40 vs. Pete Cole (Alfred State)
1:17 vs. PJ Morales (Edinboro)
1:51 vs. Lou Ruland (Maryland)
1:09 vs. Michael Moreno (NC State)
1:43 vs. Brad Steele (Dickinson State)
With his 21-second pin of RPI’s Dwight Manganaro in the Buffalo Open, freshman Dalton Britt owns the fastest fall time on the team this season. In second place is sophomore Nikko Triggas with a 40-second pin of Pete Cole of Alfred State, also recorded at the Buffalo Open.
Sophomore Colt Sponseller has recorded a team-best 12 takedowns in three separate matches this season. He did it in back-to-back contests in the Buffalo Open vs. Matt Coleman of Edinboro (W, 25-10) and Cory Lempka of Buffalo (W, 25-10). The following week in the Wolfpack Open, Sponseller recorded 12 takedowns against Maryland’s Josh Asper (W, 26-10).
Senior Jason Johnstone accumulated 10 takedowns in a 26-10 technical fall win over Corey Carlo of Cleveland State in the Buckeye Duals.
UPDATE ON THE STANDINGS
In the latest USA Today/InterMat/NWCA rankings (Feb. 24), Ohio State remains sixth in the team standings. Six Buckeyes are ranked in the Top 20 of the InterMat individual standings.
NICE START TO THE YEAR
Ohio State began its season at two open tournaments. The Buckeyes made the trip to Buffalo, N.Y., for the Buffalo Open Nov. 2 and had a phenomenal meet, crowning six champions. A week later, Ohio State made its way south for the Wolfpack Open in Raleigh, N.C., Nov. 8 and completed the tournament with four title winners.
Junior Reece Humphrey (133), senior Jason Johnstone (157), sophomore Colt Sponseller (165) and freshman Cody Gardner (197) were double winners as they won their respective weight classes at both opens. In Buffalo, Dave Rella (174) and Corey Morrison (HWT) also won titles of their own.
As some members of the team geared up for a matchup against Hofstra, others remained on the go, participating in the Kent State Open Jan. 18.
Freshman Sean Nemec and junior AJ Agazarm collected a pair of titles at the individual tournament, winning the 157 and 165 weight classes, respectively. Six other Buckeyes earned Top 6 finishes.Nemec recorded a perfect 5-0 ledger on the day. En route to the title bout, the rookie defeated AJ Johnson of Virginia Tech (2-0), scored a major decision against Clarion’s Justin McCrillis (17-2), posted a 4-2 win over Brantley Hooks of Bucknell and advanced to the 157 final after downing Penn State’s Tim Darling, 9-3. Nemec won the title match by a score of 8-1 over Eastern Michigan’s Aaron Sulzer.
Teammate Jared Kusar also wrestled at 157 pounds and finished fourth.
After a bye in the first round, Agazarm won a 2-0 match against Kent State’s Sli Bostelman and advanced to the championship round on a 5-0 victory over Clarion’s Steven Cressley. Agazarm tallied his first pin (2:06) of the season, making quick work of Indiana’s Cooper Samuels in the final bout of the day. Buckeye Ross Ambrose added a third-place finish at 165.
The Scarlet and Gray finished 2-3 in the 125 weight division at the open. Bo Touris improved to 5-2 on the season after winning four-consecutive matches to reach the 125 championship match. The freshman downed Bloomsburg’s Matt Snyder, 12-8, Penn State’s Eric Caschera, 10-5, and Kent State’s Troy Opfer, 9-7, before falling, 16-6, to Edinboro’s Eric Morrill to place second. Pat Harrington claimed third at 125 pounds, with a 4-1 record.
After dropping his second match, Garrett Henry battled back to a third-place finish at 133 pounds. For the day, Henry was 5-1.
At 184 pounds, Jeremy Sanders earned a fourth-place finish with a 2-2 record, while two Ohio State student-athletes earned Top 6 placings in the heavyweight division. Freshman Johnny Hiles finished fourth, while classmate Pat Walsh was sixth.
SERVICE TO THE COMMUNITY
The Buckeyes take part in various community service initiatives throughout the season. Once a month, Ohio State visits patients at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The team also participates in the 2nd & 7 Foundation reading program that strives to “Tackle Illiteracy” in Central Ohio.
The 2009 NCAA Championships are up next for the Buckeyes. The three-day event will take place March 19-21 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo.