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Ohio State Wrestling: OSU vs Notre Dame Preview
By Kevin Schlosser

The Ohio State Wrestling team opens its regular season on the road with a dual match against Notre Dame College. The match will be he held at Maple Heights High School on Sunday, November 4, 2007 at 2:00 p.m.

Ohio State head coach Tom Ryan led the Buckeyes to an 8-7 record in his first year at Ohio State. Despite some strong individual effort; injuries and inconsistency led to an up and down season for the team that culminated with a ninth place at the Big Ten Tournament. The Buckeyes rebounded with a top ten finish at the 2007 NCAA Tournament with strong performances from each of the four All Americans that return this year. Ohio State rose as high as eighth in the standings before the finals and placed higher than four teams that had a better showing at the Big Ten Tournament.

"We are really looking forward to the start of the year. We had a lot of success last season, but every year is a new start where no one can rest on their past accomplishments." An optimistic but guarded coach Ryan continued, "If our wrestlers can work up to their individual potential, we can have a very successful season."

Notre Dame College head coach Frank Romano is set to begin his second season as the head coach. In their inaugural year of competition, the Falcons finished with a 10-6 record, qualified five wrestlers for the 2007 NAIA Tournament, and had their first All American. While there is not a senior on the roster, this is a young and hungry team that will challenge Ohio State in several weight classes. Romano was also a three-year letterman and two-time captain for Ohio State.

"Our wrestlers have been looking forward to this challenge all summer and the Buckeyes are going to get our best shot," said coach Frank Romano.

"Ohio State will give us a lot of exposure and helps to enhance our identity within the state. In the process of helping us prepare for a challenging season, the Buckeyes have a lot of great wrestlers from this part of the state and the dual gives them the opportunity to showcase their team as well. This match is a win-win scenario for everyone involved."

The Ohio State varsity wrestling team hits the road and hits the mats when they travel to the Chattanooga Duals on Saturday, November 10, 2007. The Buckeyes return home to host Rutgers for a dual match on Monday evening, November 26, 2007.

Ohio State vs. Notre Dame Projected Lineups:

125 Tyler Savage (ND) vs. Nikko Triggas (OSU)

133 Dante Rini (ND) vs. Reece Humphrey (OSU)

141 Brett Freeman (ND) vs. J. Jaggers (OSU)

149 Nate Spencer (ND) vs. Lance Palmer (OSU)

157 Jason Spencer - Victer Crenshaw (ND) vs. Jason Johnstone (OSU)

165 Brian Cornell (ND) vs. Robel Campbell (OSU)

174 Ken Sanger - Paul Kordich (ND) vs. Alex Picazo (OSU)

184 Justin Tripp (ND) vs. Mike Pucillo (OSU)

197 Matt Kuti (ND) vs. Zach Weinrich (OSU)

285 Nick Terifaj, Anthony Watson (ND) vs. J.D. Bergman – Corey Morrison (OSU)

The Buckeye Connection to Maple Heights:

When looking for a facility to hold a capacity crowd, the decision was made to hold the dual off campus. Maple Heights is one of the storied wrestling programs in Ohio high school history. Mike Milkovich made Maple Heights into a state and national power. The Milkovich name was not only known for coaching, but also for wrestling. Mike’s sons Pat and Tom were national champions and four time All Americans for Michigan State while Mike and Dan won MAC championships. Another standout wrestler for Milkovich was two time state champ Frank Romano. Ohio State signed Romano and he went onto to become their Outstanding Freshman Wrestler, a three time NCAA qualifier, and a two time captain.

Mike Milkovich led Maple Heights to ten state championship teams and finished second eight times in twenty-seven years. His teams still hold the Ohio state record with 102 consecutive dual meet victories between 1963 and 1972. When coach Milkovich retired in 1976, Frank Romano was selected to follow a legend as head coach. Romano coached for six years until turning the reigns over to Jamie Milkovich. A former state champion for Maple Heights and All American at Auburn, Milkovich has carried on the family tradition as a coach at his alma mater since 1981.

In addition to Coach Romano, Milkovich has a close supporter in Maple City School Superintendent Dr. Charles Keenan. Keenan knows wrestling and he knows Ohio State. A former Buckeye letterman in both football and wrestling, Keenan had three brothers that wrestled in college. Brother Danny was a four year starter and captain at Purdue, while Kelly and Doug were All Americans at Baldwin Wallace. Charlie was recruited by Earle Bruce as a nose guard to play football, won a letter as a linebacker and special team player for coach Cooper, began wrestling under coach Casey Fredericks and earned two letters with coach Chris Ford.

"This event has so much meaning; Maple Heights was the perfect place for it all to come together." Romano asserted, "This dual shows the support that Tom Ryan and Ohio State have for Ohio colleges and it gives them a presence in Northwest corner of the state. Superintendent Keenan is an avid supporter of wrestling and a two sport letterman at Ohio State. This event is about paying it forward all the way around."

There have been a lot of great wrestlers and coaches that have come out of there over the years and the newest coaching staff now knows the way. After hosting Northwestern at Lakewood St. Edward last year and traveling to Maple Heights for the Notre Dame College dual this year, the Buckeyes are?

** Steve Pennington was originally listed in this article as the coach at Maple Heights this season as the result of an inaccuracy in the online OHSAA membership directory. The online database is currently being reformatted and updated. Down since November 1, 2007, all changes to the membership directory are expected to be completed and online by November 12, 2007.

Maple Height’s Athletic Director Tom O’Connor, "We are very pleased to have Jaime Milkovich returning as the head wrestling coach. Jaime has done a tremendous job over the years and is a pleasure to work with. He started his career here and we hope he ends his career here as well."

Ohio State vs. Notre Dame: Individual Match Previews

125 Tyler Savage (ND) vs. Nikko Triggas (OSU)

Nikko Triggas has defeated two former Ohio state champions the last two weeks by winning wrestle offs against Bo Touris and Pat Harrington. A two time California state champ, Triggas is slated to face Tyler Savage, a 112 pound 2006 state champ from Carlisle High School. Both wrestlers were NHSCA Senior National All Americans; Savage placed seventh in 2006 while Triggas was second in 2007.

133 Dante Rini (ND) vs. Reece Humphrey (OSU)

After defeating Will Livingston in the wrestle off, Humphrey is expected to be the Ohio State starter until he is challenged by returning starter T.J. Enright. As a lanky 133 pounder, Humphrey should have an interesting match up with the 5’2" opponent Dante Rini. A freshman from Massillon Jackson, Dante Rini placed third as a sophomore, second as a junior, and injury defaulted to eighth as a senior. While he is several years younger, Rini has enough experience and talent to offer Humphrey a challenge.

In an interesting did you know, Ohio State verbal commitment Tony Jameson defeated Dante Rini in the finals to win the second of his three Ohio state titles. Jameson, a senior at Austintown-Fitch will attempt to become the sixteenth wrestler to win four Ohio state titles.

141 Brett Freeman (ND) vs. J. Jaggers (OSU)

Jaggers will see his first action of the year in the dual. A two year letterman, Jaggers earned All American status with a seventh place finish at the 2007 NCAA Tournament. Notre Dame sophomore Brett Freeman was a 2007 NAIA national qualifier a four year starter for Berkshire High School. Jaggers was a four time Ohio state champion while Freeman placed second as a junior and third as a senior.

149 Nate Spencer (ND) vs. Lance Palmer (OSU)

Lance Palmer is one of two freshman to earn All American status at the 2007 NCAA division I wrestling tournament. Spencer transferred to Notre Dame last season from Kent State and qualified for the 2007 NAIA Tournament. A former top twenty-five recruit, Spencer lost in the round of twelve and narrowly missed earning NAIA All American status. In high school, Palmer was a four time Ohio state champ from Lakewood St. Edwards while Spencer was a three time state place winner for Mayfield High School.

157 Jason Spencer - Victer Crenshaw (ND) vs. Brendan Beucler - Sean Nemec (OSU)

An interesting weight class for both schools as each has a returning starter and a freshman or transfer competing for their starting spot. Jason Spenser returns for Notre Dame and is joined by Cleveland State transfer Victer Crenshaw. Spencer also transferred to Notre Dame College and is the older brother of Nate Spenser. Ohio State expects Jason Johnstone to be prepared to wrestle on Sunday with backups Sean Nemec and Brendan Beucler ready to go in reserve.

If Ohio State wants to protect a redshirt for Nemec, look for Beucler to get the nod if Johnstone is not ready. Spenser was an NAIA national qualifier, while Crenshaw was a two year NCAA division I starter and a 2007 NCAA national qualifier. Depending on who is facing who, this match could go either way.

165 Mike Mahon (ND) vs. Robel Campbell (OSU)

Another interesting match has Mike Mahon wrestling Robel Campbell. Mahon was a three-time Ohio State placer for Cincinnati Moeller High School, while Robel Campbell placed second as a senior for Troy Christian. Campbell will be the Ohio State starter until freshman Colt Sponseller is prepared to return from injury and wrestle off. This is another match where Notre Dame has a realistic opportunity to score some points.

"Mike Mahon is a real talent," said coach Frank Romano. "He was an accomplished high school wrestler and a double All American in freestyle and Greco-Roman. We’re looking forward to seeing what he can do at the next level."

174 Ken Sanger - Paul Kordich (ND) vs. Alex Picazo – Tommy Priestley (OSU)

Ohio State will start Alex Picazo against one of two wrestlers from Notre Dame College. Options for the Falcons include two wrestlers that were four-year starters in high school. Sanger was a two-time Ohio placer for Lutheran West and is the returning starter. Freshman Paul Kordich is expected to challenge Sanger as a high school All American. Picazo should get a good match, regardless of the opponent.

184 Justin Tripp (ND) vs. Mike Pucillo (OSU)

After missing the wrestle off with a class conflict, Mike Pucillo sees his first action of the season against freshman Justin Tripp. As a redshirt freshman, Pucillo placed sixth at the 2007 NCAA Tournament. Tripp was a four-year wrestler and thre- time state qualifier for the Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy is a freshman at Notre Dame College. Tripp was a high school team mate of Ohio State freshman John Weakley and placed third as a senior.

197 Matt Kuti (ND) vs. Zach Weinrich (OSU)

Ohio State has an interesting dilemma at 197 pounds. True freshman John Weakley defeated redshirt sophomore Zach Weinrich at the wrestle off. Tom Ryan and staff face a difficult decision in starting Weakley or holding him out for a redshirt. Matt Kuti was a two-time state qualifier for Austintown-Fitch High School with a fourth place finish as a senior. This should be a competitive match, regardless of the starters.

285 Nick Terifaj - Anthony Watson (ND) vs. J.D. Bergman – Corey Morrison (OSU)

Both teams enter this match with several questions at heavyweight and have a returning All American as a potential starter. Notre Dame sophomore Nick Terifaj took eighth at the 2007 NAIA Tournament at 285 pounds while Ohio State senior J.D. Bergman placed fourth at the 2007 NCAA division I Tournament at 197 pounds. Terifaj is expected to be challenged by freshman Anthony Watson, while the Buckeyes could start Morrison if Bergman is not medically cleared for competition.

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