“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of 100 battles.” – The Art of War- Sun Tzu
Rage Against The Machine had a similar sentiment (not exactly, but I grew up in the 90’s and remain a strong supporter of RATM) on their song “Know Your Enemy.”
While the SEC may lay claim to the powerhouse conference of the college football world, the Big Ten has a stronghold on the NCAA Wrestling Championship with a Big Ten team winning 15 of the last 20 titles. Even more impressive is that a Big Ten school has earned the runner-up spot 11 of those 20 years and Big Ten schools have earned both of the top spots in 6 of the last 20 years. In the toughest conference in collegiate wrestling, it’s important to follow the advice of Sun Tzu (and Zach De La Rocha), and “know your enemy.”
In this first part of a series breaking down the teams the wrestling Buckeyes will face this season, we’re going to take a look at the Buckeye wrestling team.
Head Coach: Tom Ryan (8th year as OSU Head Coach)
Coach Ryan is part of the incomparable Dan Gable coaching tree, having wrestled for the legend during his time at Iowa. Prior to coaching the Buckeyes, Ryan was at the helm of the Hofstra Pride (where he coached current UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman). Upon taking over for Russ Hellickson, Tom Ryan has had the Buckeyes in the hunt for the NCAA team title each year with a pair of back to back runner up finishes in 2007-2008 & 2008-2009. Ryan’s Buckeyes have never finished outside of the Top 10 at the NCAA tournament, and should be a serious contender for a top 3 position again this season.
The Buckeyes finished in 4th place at the 2013 Big Ten Championships with 109.5 points, led by Logan and Hunter Stieber, who each won Big Ten individual titles. The Buckeyes qualified 9 wrestlers to the NCAA championships with Nick Heflin (5th place), Hunter Stieber (3rd place), and Logan Stieber (NCAA Champion) each earning their 2nd individual All-American accolades. The elder Stieber joined J Jaggers, Tommy Rowlands, and Kevin Randleman as Buckeyes to win 2 NCAA championships.
Nikko Triggas – 125 lbs- Triggas was a veritable pinning machine for the Buckeyes, ending his career with 47 pins, good enough for Top 5 all-time for Ohio State. Triggas was a 4-time NCAA qualifier.
CJ Magrum-184 lbs- A 4-time letter winner for the wrestling Buckeyes, Magrum earned 4 berths into the NCAA Wrestling Championship Tournament. More impressively, Magrum was a 4-time Academic All-Big Ten Honoree.
Peter Capone- HWT- Though last year was Capone’s redshirt junior season, his campaign was cut short when he was injured in a match against Penn State. Capone earned his degree from Ohio State and may or may not return to wrestle for the Buckeyes ***At this time, I’m working to get confirmation from the Ohio State staff as to Capone’s intentions.*** Capone is a 2 time NCAA qualifier
Cam Tessari-149 lbs- Tessari was an All-American as a true freshman a year ago. He was suspended from the team prior to the Big Ten tournament of his sophomore year and has since left the team. Tessari recently announced that he will be wrestling for Hofstra with his remaining eligibility.
Andrew Campolattano- 197 lbs- Campolattano was a 2 year starter for the wrestling Buckeyes, but I have confirmed that he was dismissed from the team and is no longer enrolled at The Ohio State University.
Johnni DiJulius- 133 lbs- Junior- Earned a trip to the 2012 NCAA tournament as a starter at 125 lbs. Ended the 2012-13 season with a record of 21-6.
Logan Stieber-133 lbs- Redshirt Junior- Stieber is a 2 time defending NCAA champion. Finished the season with a 27-0 record.
Hunter Stieber- 141 lbs- Junior- The younger Stieber is a 2-time All-American, having placed 3rd and 6th at the NCAA tournament. Finished the season with a 36-1 record.
Ian Paddock- 149 lbs- Redshirt Senior- Paddock has qualified for the NCAA tournament 3 times. He was a spot-starter in the 2012-13 season, and was able to knock off #1 seed Eric Grajales of Michigan at the 2013 Big Ten Tournament to earn a 3rd trip to the NCAA tournament at 149 lbs. Finished the season with a 15-9 record.
Josh Demas- 157 lbs- Redshirt Junior- Demas has qualified for the NCAA tournament in each of his first 2 years of competition. Ended the 2012-13 season with a record of 20-12
Mark Martin- 165 lbs- Sophomore- Martin earned a trip to the NCAA tournament and compiled a record of 19-18 on the season.
Nick Heflin- 174 lbs- Redshirt Senior- Heflin has earned 2 All-American finishes in 3 trips to the NCAA tournament. A multiple-time team captain, Heflin ended the 2012-13 season with a record of 20-7.
Kenny Courts- 184 lbs- Redshirt Sophomore- Courts split time between 184 and 197 lbs to compete wherever Coach Ryan needed him. Kenny earned a big win at 197 lbs when he defeated defending Big Ten Champ Mario Gonzales of Illinois. Courts finished the 2012-13 campaign with a record of 22-8.
Nathan Tomasello- 125 lbs (projected)- Freshman- A 4-time state champion in Ohio for Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy, Tomasello should jump directly into the starting line-up and compete among the best in the Big Ten at 125 right away.
Bo Jordan- 165 lbs (projected)- Freshman- A 4 time state champion in Ohio for powerhouse Graham High School, Bo is a part of the storied Jordan wrestling family that has won a total of 21 state titles. Bo could become a started at 165 lbs if the whispers of realignment in the upper weights are to be believed.
Jake Ryan- 165 lbs (projected)- Freshman- Jake is the son of Coach Tom Ryan and won his 1st state title in Ohio in his senior year. Jake will compete for a roster spot and will add depth and experience to a tough lineup.
Updated (***Thanks for keeping me honest, XUBuckeye) Projected 2013-2014 starting line-up
125 lbs- Nick Roberts
133 lbs- Johnni DiJulius
141 lbs- Logan Stieber
149 lbs- Ian Paddock
157 lbs- Josh Demas
165 lbs- Matt Fee
174 lbs- Mark Martin
184 lbs- Kenny Courts
197 lbs- Nick Heflin
At this time, the schedule has not been released for the 2013-14 season. Ever the trend-setters in collegiate wrestling, the Iowa Hawkeyes schedule was among the first released and the Buckeyes do not appear on it, which is both a blessing and a curse for the Buckeyes as they look to earn tough wins over quality opponents but also want to avoid wear and tear throughout the long dual meet season.
When the schedule is released officially (I’m told it will be next week at some point), I’ll provide a similar breakdown of the Buckeyes’ Big Ten foes this season.