Wrestling Ohio State Wrestling: Hawkeyes down Buckeyes:
By Kevin Schlosser
The OhioState wrestling team faced their big challenge this season when top ranked Iowa visited for a home dual match. For a team that wants to win a national championship, their next match is always the biggest one.Both teams had high expectations before the start of competition and neither left satisfied with their total performance. The Buckeyes wrestled well for two periods but the Hawkeyes owned the third and won 24-10 in St. John's Arena.
OhioState supporters showed up in full force with a record setting crowd of 4,378 in attendance and thousands more were watching the broadcast on the Big Ten Network.While they were not able to come out with the win, they were able to unite the Ohio wrestling community. The Hawkeyes improved to 12-1 overall; 1-0 in the Big Ten with the win as the Buckeyes dropped to 13-3; 1-1 with the defeat.
Starting with a win at 133 pounds, Iowa won the first four matches by a combined nine points.In the process, the first two Ohio State All Americans to wrestle went down in defeat.Iowa built a twelve point when Ryan Morningstar won a 5-4 decision over Jason Johnstone with the riding time bonus awarded at the end of the third. Freshman Colt Sponseller won an action packed 22-11 major decision to give the Buckeyes their first win.
OhioState needed to get off to good start against the Hawkeyes and when they didn't, the task at hand grew larger.Iowa led 12-4 at intermission and came out with a pin at 174 pounds to seize the momentum.Mike Pucillo responded with a 3-2 decision win to keep the Buckeyes distant hopes alive.John Weakley wrestled to a scoreless tie at the end of regulation and lost a double overtime decision 2-1 decision on riding time criteria.J.D. Bergman followed with a 4-2 decision win to give OhioState their final points as they lost by decision at 125 pounds.
"We didn't perform to our best, but you have to give it to Iowa.Coach Brands does a really good job, they always bring it and they wrestled really hard," offered Buckeye J.D. Bergman "It's tough to lose the close matches because we have guys like Reece, J. Jaggers, and Lance that can be in the NCAA finals this year."
"There were several pivotal matches tonight; we needed to get at least three of them and we didn't get any.We lost one on riding time, another in overtime, and two in the last thirty seconds.When we needed to get a takedown, they got it and to me that doesn't happen by accident," commented OhioState head coach Tom Ryan. "You don't lose four in a row like that by chance, you lose because you got out hustled and tonight we were out hustled and we got beat."
In defeat Ryan was forced to focus on the matches that got away from the Buckeyes while Iowa head coach Tom Brands was able to pick apart what little went wrong for the Hawkeyes.
"We knew coming in this was going to be a battle and I was pleased with the way we prepared," stated Brands after the match."I was most happy with our consistency but I don't we represented ourselves in a winning fashion at 184 and heavyweight. I don't care what the rankings say or the outcome of the match, I care about how our guys compete."
Whatever swagger the Hawkeyes might have lost in the years after Dan Gable retired has returned under the iron hand of Tom Brands.The Buckeyes will need to elevate their performance and improve their conditioning if they want to challenge Iowa in March.
"We don't talk about moral victories, keeping it close or experimentation to see what you are going to do in the future.We want them our guys to go out and go hard each and every time.We want them to score, score some more, repeat, repeat and score some more," said Brands when critiquing their losses and describing their intensity."We don't talk about going out there and doing your best, you have to do what you came to do and that is to win and to dominate.Coach Ryan is a product of the same system."
"Iowa is the gold standard for conditioning in the sport of wrestling and they have been for a number of years.They relentlessly attack and that is what we want to do," asserted Ryan."Technically we were fine, but we need to remember what it is like feels like to be tired with a minute to go in the match and respond.We are not there yet and it falls on all of our shoulders as a staff and as individual wrestlers to do something about it."
"Two guys going through the same workout can get two different things out of it.The wrestlers on this team need to challenge themselves as individuals to get as much out of every day as they can. Part of it falls on the athletes and part of it falls on the coaching staff." Ryan continued, "They have to want to get more out of themselves and we have to bring it out of them. The bad news we lost the match, the good news it is only January."
The Buckeyes remain confident despite the disappointing loss.OhioState respects Iowa, but they also respect themselves and their ability to bounce back.
"Iowa has a great tradition and they came in as the number one team.Today our team took a hit, but we are building our own legacy here at OhioState and it starts with us coming back from this loss," stated a confident John Weakley."We have proven we can beat top notched teams, but we have to grit our teeth and go back to work."
"We battled them tough, but we have a lot to learn from this match.The loss does not put us beneath them other than the final score.We will keep getting better and keep working hard," said J.D. Bergman. We'll be at practice on Sunday and get ready for PennState.They were ranked number one last week and they are going to come in here wanting to rip our heads off because we beat them at the National Duals.It is going to be just as intense of a match. One of the best wrestling states versus the best wrestling state and it is going to be a war."
OhioState's will host PennState on January 25, 2008 in a rematch from the 2008 National Duals.The Buckeyes beat the Nittany Lions 24-11 in the consolation finals for fifth place.The dual is scheduled to begin at in St. John's Arena.The Buckeyes will go out on the road for a three match road trip to open February at Indiana, Purdue, and MichiganState before returning to Columbus to host Michigan on February 10, 2008.
"I think the staff is doing a great job at Ohio State and it starts at the top with Tom Ryan, I don't give a lot of opposing coaches a lot of credit because you are trying to keep your edge, but today on the radio I did," offered Brands. "They are well coached and there is a lot of familiarity there. He brought in Rosselli, kept Rowlands and added Heskett. They have some very good coaches."
When Brands was asked specifically about Tom Ryan, he allowed himself to crack a partial smile for a brief moment. For a man that prides himself as being invulnerable, their friendship was impossible to ignore.
"There are a lot of memories when you ask about Tom Ryan. He is a great guy and a good friend. We were teammates for three or four years, wrestled internationally together so there are a lot of common bonds there. He was a roommate of my brother for three years and when we competed together, the teams we were on were like brothers. When he lived in Iowa City, our families grew tight. I have spent a lot of time with him and there has always a good relationship. We wish Tom Ryan and his family the best."
Turning back into the competitor he is, Brands stated it is all business on the mat.
"When you are sitting across from him in the opposing chair and we have a battle going on, he wants the best for his team and we want the best for us; there are no hard feelings. We have to be ready to wrestle Ohio State and that is a testament to Tom Ryan."
"Tom Brands is a man that influenced my life as much as anyone", said Tom Ryan after the dual. "He is a winner, a class guy, and a good friend. I look forward to battling with him over the next few years."
It is no coincidence that both coaches used the word "battle" in describing the match up of their two teams, they expect this series to become a war.
Ohio State & Iowa; The Series & the Streak:
With the victory this season Iowa leads the all time series 35-2 over Ohio State. The Buckeyes won the first ever match up between the two teams in 1929. Despite being in the same conference, the two teams would not wrestle again for thirty-four years. When the series resumed, the Hawkeyes won two in a row in 1963 and 1964. The Buckeyes won the next dual in 1966 and have been searching for their next win in the series ever since.
Over the last forty two years, Iowa has won thirty-three consecutive duals against Ohio State. The Buckeyes lost 25-13 at Carver Hawkeye last season.
The Big Ten Network will rebroadcast the OhioState and Iowa dual match three more times over the next week. According to their latest schedule, the dual will be rebroadcast on the following dates and times: