Bonus Point Wins Help 'Cats Blow by Buckeyes, 27-13
Feb. 19, 2011
Site: Columbus, Ohio (St. John Arena)
Score: No. 14 Northwestern 27, Ohio State 13
Records: NU (18-2, 6-2 Big Ten), Ohio State (2-11, 1-7 Big Ten)
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Match Statistics: NWCA Score Book
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Fourteenth-ranked Northwestern concluded one of the best dual seasons in its 91-year history Saturday by rolling past Ohio State, 27-13, at St. John Arena in Columbus. All but one of the Wildcats' six victories came with bonus points, including pins by senior and third-ranked Brandon Precin as well as sophomore Levi Mele.
Northwestern finishes its regular season with an 18-2 overall mark and a 6-2 ledger in the Big Ten, its best win total in conference action since 1987 and the first time it has won three consecutive Big Ten duals since 2008.
After the hosts got off to a 6-0 lead, NU reeled off six straight wins and led by as many as 21 points before the Buckeyes trimmed the margin with two victories to close the dual.
"We knew that bonus points could be a factor in the dual and they turned out to be the reason we won by such a large margin," said NU head coach Drew Pariano after leading the Wildcats to their first win in Columbus since 1998. "That was a positive for us but we also let some matches get away that were there for the taking. We're proud of the dual season we put together but what you do at Big Tens and NCAAs is really what people are going to remember."
The dual match got underway at 184 pounds where Ohio State's Cody Magrum used three takedowns to gain an early lead and never allowed NU's Aaron Jones to score on offense, as Magrum won a 7-4 decision to give the hosts a 3-0 lead. OSU made it 6-0 when the Buckeyes' 197-pounder Peter Capone was able to top Northwestern's John Schoen by a 2-1 score. After a scoreless first, Capone rode Schoen for the entire second period to ensure a riding time advantage and followed that up by escaping at the start of the third to make it 1-0 on the scoreboard. Schoen began to push the tempo looking for a takedown to tie the match and forced Capone to surrender a penalty point for stalling late in the third. Still down 2-1 with riding time factored in, Schoen couldn't get in on offense as Capone claimed the victory.
That brought up the heavyweight match where NU's Ben Kuhar squared off with Zach Stolarsky of Ohio State, who allowed Kuhar to escape early in the second period to give the Wildcat junior a 1-0 lead. Stolarsky then began the third in the down position and immediately seemed to be free, but he turned directly into Kuhar's grasp and found himself on his back with Kuhar working for the pin. Without a controlling grasp of Stolarsky's shoulder, Kuhar settled for three near-fall points, which was more than enough for Kuhar to score a 6-0 decision and finish with a 3-4 Big Ten dual mark this season.
Back down at 125 pounds, a focused and determined Precin put Northwestern in front for good thanks to his eighth pin of the year coming against the Buckeye's Bo Touris in the second period. With the victory, Precin enters his postseason with a record of 28-1 and a career mark of 131-29.
At 133 pounds, two sophomores squared off as NU's 18th-ranked Levi Mele met Jacob Vaughn of Ohio State, who got off to a strong start with a hold of Mele's leg. But Mele did well to defend the shot and force a stalemate, and he came out of the restart with a takedown of his own with 10 seconds remaining in the first. He added to his lead with a takedown in the second and, after starting the third on the bottom, reversed Vaughn to set up a fall with 1:19 remaining in the match, his sixth pin of the season.
Northwestern's powerful lower weights continued to roll, with freshman Kaleb Friedley getting several tilts for back points on his way to an 11-0 major decision over Randall Languis at 141 pounds.
Seventh-ranked Andrew Nadhir made it back-to-back major decisions at 149 pounds, repeatedly taking down and cutting Ohio State's Joe Grandominico to guarantee a bonus point win. Nadhir went on to win by a 15-7 count, wrapping up an impressive regular season with a career-best 27-3 record and a 19-1 record in dual action. At 7-1 in the Big Ten, Nadhir should have an inside track to a No. 2 seed at 149 pounds in the upcoming Big Ten Championships.
NU's final ranked wrestler took the mat at 157 pounds as No. 10 Jason Welch dominated a quality opponent in OSU junior Sean Nemec. Welch scored three takedowns and amassed 2:54 worth of riding time to close his regular season with a 23-3 mark.
Ohio State stemmed the tide with a win at 165 from sixth-ranked Colt Sponseller despite the best efforts of NU sophomore Kevin Bialka. Bialka hung tough, trailing only 8-4 in the third, but Sponseller continued to dictate the action and ultimately won by 13-5 major decision.
In the final bout of the afternoon, Ohio State's 13th-ranked Nick Heflin built a 4-2 first-period lead over NU sophomore Brian Roddy, Jr. in a battle of two Ohio natives. Heflin looked ready to add his lead on several occasions but was held off by solid defense by Roddy. In the end, however, Roddy could not generate a comeback and fell by a 4-2 score, setting the final margin of the dual at 27-13.
Northwestern now has two weeks before hitting the mats at Welsh-Ryan Arena to host the 2011 Big Ten Wrestling Championships, Saturday-Sunday, March 5-6. Tickets to the event are still available for purchase by calling the Northwestern Athletic Ticket Office at 888-GO-PURPLE.
No. 14 Northwestern 27, Ohio State 13
184: Cody Magrum (OSU) dec. Aaron Jones (NU), 7-4 (OSU 3, NU 0)
197: Peter Capone (OSU) dec. John Schoen (NU), 2-1 (OSU 6, NU 0)
285: Ben Kuhar (NU) dec. Zach Stolarsky (OSU), 6-0 (OSU 6, NU 3)
125: #3 Brandon Precin (NU) FALL Bo Touris (OSU), 3:57 (NU 9, OSU 6)
133: #18 Levi Mele (NU) FALL Jacob Vaughn (OSU), 5:41 (NU 15, OSU 6)
141: Kaleb Friedley (NU) maj. dec. Randall Languis (OSU), 11-0 (NU 19, OSU 6)
149: #7 Andrew Nadhir (NU) maj. dec. Joe Grandominico (OSU), 15-7 (NU 23, OSU 6)
157: #10 Jason Welch (NU) maj. dec. Sean Nemec (OSU), 8-0 (NU 27, OSU 6)
165: Colt Sponseller (OSU) maj. dec. Kevin Bialka (NU), 13-5 (NU 27, OSU 10)
174: #13 Nick Heflin (OSU) dec. Brian Roddy, Jr. (NU), 7-4 (NU 27, OSU 13)
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