Feb. 18, 2009
Ohio State/Iowa match notes
NWCA Live Scoring -- Ohio State
NWCA Live Scoring -- Iowa
EVANSTON, Ill. -- With one eye on the Big Ten Championships in two weeks, No. 19 Northwestern wraps up its Big Ten schedule this weekend at Welsh-Ryan Arena against two of the country's top wrestling programs. NU hosts No. 6 Ohio State at 7 p.m. Friday before facing top-ranked Iowa at 2 p.m. Sunday in senior Jake Herbert's final dual match at Northwestern.
WILDCAT TO WATCH
As a three-time NCAA All-American, No. 1-ranked Jake Herbert is no stranger to being the center of attention when he steps on the mat, but this weekend's matches provide even more reason for all eyes to be on him. Friday's 184-pound match vs. the Buckeyes will be a clash of the weight class' last two NCAA champions in Herbert (24-0) and Ohio State junior Mike Pucillo (14-0). Herbert notched an 11-5 decision the last time they met back on Feb. 4, 2007, in an 18-16 Ohio State win.
On Senior Day against the Hawkeyes, Herbert will face third-ranked Phil Keddy of Iowa for the second time this season. Herbert defeated Keddy in the finals of the 2008 Midlands Championships, dominating Keddy to the tune of a 15-1 major decision.
Herbert is Northwestern's all-time leader in winning percentage (.972) and ranks third in wins with 139. He has won 92 of his last 93 bouts and leads the 2008-09 'Cats with 82 points scored through 16 dual matches.
SCOUTING THE BUCKEYES
Ohio State head coach and Iowa alum Tom Ryan brings his sixth-ranked Buckeyes to Evanston with six ranked wrestlers on his roster. Leading the Buckeyes is senior J Jaggers at 141, who captured the 2008 NCAA title as the No. 6 seed, upsetting the top three seeds on his way to the championship. This season, Jaggers checks in with a No. 13 ranking and a 17-8 overall record with a 4-2 mark in the Big Ten.
Ohio State (14-2) boasts two competitors ranked second nationally at their respective weight classes, including Pucillo at 184 and sophomore Colt Sponseller at 165. Sponseller is 27-3 this year and unbeaten in league competition. Junior Reece Humphrey is the nation's third-ranked 133-pounder, while Lance Palmer is fourth at 149 and senior Jason Johnstone is 17th at 157. Sophomore 125-pounder Nikko Triggas earned Big Ten Wrestler of the Week honors Tuesday thanks to a pair of pins against Michigan and Illinois last weekend. Triggas leads the team with 12 falls on the year.
SCOUTING THE HAWKEYES
Iowa (22-0) has won the last three meetings against Northwestern after the 'Cats posted a 22-19 home victory against the Hawkeyes back on Jan. 29, 2005. Junior Brent Metcalf, a 2008 NCAA champion, leads the way for Iowa with a No. 1 ranking at 149 lbs. while junior Daniel Dennis is the top-ranked 133-pounder. Senior Alex Tsirtsis checks in at No. 2 at 141 pounds and junior Ryan Morningstar is third at 165.
Iowa's other ranked competitors include Keddy, junior Jay Borschel (No. 4, 174), junior Chad Beatty (No. 15, 197) and junior Dan Erekson (285). The Hawkeyes begin their final weekend of Big Ten competition with a dual match at Indiana on Friday evening.
In addition to Herbert, one other Wildcat senior will be making his final dual appearance vs. Iowa on Sunday. Marty Gould (Lincolnshire, Ill./Niles West) won 29 matches during his four-year career, including four en route to a seventh-place finish at the 2007 Midlands Championships, and will graduate from Northwestern with a degree in political science.
Fourth-ranked Brandon Precin (Orland Park, Ill./Carl Sandburg) dropped a 3-1 decision in sudden victory to Indiana's 2008 NCAA champ, Angel Escobedo, on Sunday, marking just his second loss of the season. Precin's other loss came on Nov. 9 to former NCAA champion Paul Donahoe of Edinboro, meaning three of Precin's last four losses dating to last season have come at the hands of NCAA title-winners.
OHIO STATE PROBABLES
125: Nikko Triggas (19-12)
133: No. 3 Reece Humphrey (21-2)
141: No. 13 J Jaggers (17-8)
149: Lance Palmer (22-2)
157: Jason Johnstone (19-9)
165: No. 2 Colt Sponseller (27-3)
174: Dave Rella (15-11)
184: No. 2 Mike Pucillo (14-0)
197: Jason Cook (12-10)
285: Corey Morrison (18-11)
125: No. 5 Charlie Falck (Sr., 18-2)
133: No. 1 Daniel Dennis (Jr., 23-2)
141: No. 2 Alex Tsirtsis (Sr., 22-2)
149: No. 1 Brent Metcalf (Jr., 27-0)
157: Matt Ballweg (So., 11-13)
165: No. 3 Ryan Morningstar (Jr., 23-4)
174: No. 4 Jay Borschel (Jr., 21-2)
184: No. 3 Phillip Keddy (Jr., 25-1)
197: No. 15 Chad Beatty (Jr., 14-3)
HWT: No. 7 Dan Erekson (Jr., 17-6)
OR Jordan Johnson (Fr., 1-3)