A wrestling stand-out since his days at Oak Harbor High School, recent Ohio State graduate CJ Magrum spoke with me to recap his wrestling career as a Buckeye. Magrum ended his career with a record of 85-48 and went undefeated against Michigan wrestlers in his final 3 seasons. Magrum was a 4 time NCAA qualifier and a 4 time Academic All Big Ten honoree and provided outstanding leadership for the young Buckeye team for the past few seasons.
What was it about wrestling that drew you to the sport?
The fact that my older brother started wrestling. The hard work and discipline that wrestling requires. Also, the fact that it is a fair sport in that you and your opponents both weigh the same and it is one on one.
Growing up in Oak Harbor, was there any wrestler you really considered a role model? Was there any wrestler that you modeled your style after?
I really looked up to my older brother Mike Rando. He is 4 years older than me and we had similar styles. I also looked up to JD Bergman who was a multiple time state champion that went on to wrestle for tOSU.
After winning 3 state titles in Ohio, what made you decide to come to Ohio State? Were you receiving offers from other programs?
I loved the coaching staff, the campus, and the guys on the team. It was a college that I wanted to go to since I was a kid. Yes, I was receiving offers from multiple different programs.
When you stepped onto the mat as a freshman, what did you notice was the biggest difference between high school wrestling and wrestling at the collegiate level?
College wrestling is much more physical. There are no easy matches because everyone you wrestle is a man who has been doing the same thing you have at the same level.
From what I was able to find, you went undefeated against the Team Up North in your last 2 years as a Buckeye. Is the rivalry with them as intense on the mats as it is in football and basketball?
Yes, my freshman year I lost to a Michigan wrestler during our dual meet I believe. That was my only loss to “those guys.” Yes it is a very intense rivalry. Bragging rights and gold singlets are on the line. Wrestling as a whole is also very personal so every match is intense.
Aside from the Maize and Blue, who would you say is the Buckeye wrestling team’s biggest rival?
Of all of the matches you wrestled in college, which would you say was your most memorable?
My sophomore year I beat AJ Kissel from Purdue at Big Tens to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. He was a top 12 ranked guy at the time and I was having an up and down season.
It’s widely known that the Big Ten most of the toughest wrestlers in the country. Who was your toughest opponent throughout your career (and why)?
I wrestled Jake Varner from Iowa State my Freshman year, who turned out to be an Olympic Gold Medalist. That was tough because he was a senior who was much more experienced and stronger than me. The other one was Ed Ruth from Penn State. He is a freak of nature who is one of the best college wrestlers of all time. Next year he will be going for his 3rd NCAA Title.
Aside from St. John Arena, where was your favorite place to wrestle?
I loved when our team went to my High School this year and I got to wrestle in front of my hometown.
Now that you’re moving on, which Buckeye is someone that fans should keep an eye out for in the future?
Well, Logan Stieber is a future Olympic Champion no doubt in my mind, but he is very well known. Noticeable incoming freshman that can have a big impact right away are Tomasello and Jordan.
In addition to your accolades on the mat, you were recognized time and time again for your excellence in the classroom. How were you able to balance your busy schedule in the wrestling program with hitting the books and just being a kid? (if you’d like, describe a typical week in-season).
I chose a major that was easy for me to be successful in while being the best wrestler I could be. The biggest thing for me that most college kids struggle with is just going to class every single day. I never missed classes, and while I was there I was pretty attentive. My days usually went, breakfast, morning workouts, class, lunch, afternoon workouts, dinner, and then any homework or assignments, then playtime if I had the energy.
As someone that’s wrestled at the collegiate level, what advice would you give to a young wrestler just starting out in the sport?
I would tell them to stick with it. It’s the hardest sport there is and can get overwhelming physically and mentally, so it is important for beginners to just stick with it and stay positive. Also, work out as much as you can because the last thing you want is to step on the mat unprepared.
You’re now a graduate from The Ohio State University. What’s your degree and what will you be doing after college?
Strategic Communications. I will be seeking a job in sales or personal training.
Having nothing to do with wrestling, what do you think you’ll miss the most about being a student at The Ohio State University?
I will miss all my teammates and the fun things we used to do such as softball, vball, Frisbee, and cornhole with our shirts off obviously.