Ohio State Wrestling: 141 Pound Preview
By Kevin Schlosser
Ohio State is blessed with a wealth of experience and talent at 141 pounds. Junior J. Jaggers is one of four returning All Americans for the Buckeyes and the projected starter. Injuries prevented Jaggers from competing in the 2006 NCAA Tournament and starting last season on time, but Jaggers worked his way into shape and finished the year on the medal stand. Jaggers is expected to enter the season healthy and in shape and will look to return to his 2006 regular season form before making another run at an NCAA title.
Sophomore Reece Humphrey and senior T.J. Enright have both experienced their greatest success at 133 pounds; however both would find certifying at 141 pounds much easier than making the cut back down to 133 pounds. Unless one of them steps up to challenge and unseats Jaggers, the likely scenario is their winner wrestles 133 pounds and the loser becomes the back up for both weight classes.
Irregardless of weight; Jaggers, Enright, and Humphrey will be expected to place at the Big Ten Tournament and qualify for the NCAA Tournament. Unlike last season, each will be expected to enter the season injury and rehabilitation free so Buckeye lineup will be survival of the fittest as all three have used their redshirts.
Sophomore Lance Palmer has created a glass ceiling at 149 pounds keeping some wrestlers down and forcing another to move up. Enright, Jaggers, and Humphrey could be starters at 133, 141, or as high as 149 pounds while junior Jason Johnstone may have been a natural 149 is at 157 pounds to crack the varsity lineup. Livingston and Schafer are listed as depth at 141 pounds as they could still certify at 133 pounds. The lower the weight the harder the cut, but each starter will be expected to do well in St. Louis.
The Front Runner: 141 pounds
J. Jaggers (junior; Northfield, OH)
Redshirt junior J. Jaggers is the prohibitive favorite to take this weight class heading into the season. Jaggers, a four time Ohio state champ, is one of four returning All Americans for Ohio State and a two time NCAA qualifier. While one of the wrestlers at 133 may move up and challenge him at 141, Jaggers is expected to be the starter barring injuries or an upset. “A healthy J. Jaggers is trouble for anyone in the country,” Tom Ryan.
After cracking the varsity lineup as a freshman at 141, he was forced to take a medical redshirt after an early season knee injury. As a redshirt freshman at 149, Jaggers went 26-7 before injuring his elbow in the consolation semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament. Instead of wrestling for third, he ended the year defaulting to sixth place and did not compete at the NCAA Tournament. As a redshirt sophomore, Jaggers returned to lineup at 141. After battling early season injuries and conditioning issues, he steadily improved to end the year with a 21-10 record, took seventh place at the Big Ten Tournament, and earned All American status by placing seventh at the NCAA Tournament.
Jaggers boasts a 50-20 career record and was named 2007 Academic All Big Ten and a 2007 NWCA Academic All American
Known in the wrestling room as “The Matrix” because of his flexibility and uncanny funk, Jaggers has the experience and the potential to make another tournament run this year. When he is on Jaggers can beat any wrestler in the country and when he is not you can still count on him to hang with any wrestler he will face.
The Contenders: 141 pounds
Reece Humphrey (sophomore; Indianapolis, IN)
Reece Humphrey was redshirted last year and returns this season with three years of eligibility remaining. Tom Ryan resisted the temptation of wrestling Humphrey when Enright and Jaggers went down with early season injuries. With the possibility of both returning and Humphrey losing a spot in the lineup, the decision was made to save his eligibility.
As a true freshman, Humphrey tied J. Jaggers for the team lead in victories; finishing with a 26-16 record and eighth place in the Big Ten. Humphrey was named an alternate and competed at the NCAA tournament but did not finish place. Prior to Ohio State, Humphrey was a three time state champion from Lawrence North High School and the 2005 Junior National Greco Roman champion and freestyle runner up.
Reece is the third wrestler in his family to wrestle at Ohio State as both his brother Jordin and father Jim wrestled for the Buckeyes. Look for Humphrey to challenge Enright throughout the season and provide depth at both 133 and 141 pounds. Humphrey will have a hard cut but be considered the early favorite to replace Enright next season.
Will Livingston (sophomore; Stillwater, NY)
Will Livingston was the starter for the Buckeyes last season at 125 pounds going 17-20 overall and placing eighth at the Big Ten Tournament. Livingston struggled physically and technically at times; but grew as the season progressed and gained valuable experience along the way. Highlighting the year for Livingston was a 10-7 victory over Frank Gomez, the four seed, at the Big Ten Tournament. The win knocked Gomez out of the tournament; securing Livingston’s placement and avenged a 15-0 tech fall loss in the Michigan State Dual.
While a return to 125 is unlikely, Livingston is a prime candidate for a redshirt with Reece Humphrey on the clock. Livingston may not wrestle varsity this year, but he will be counted on to push Triggas, Enright, Humphrey and Jaggers at practice. With the graduation of T.J. Enright, Livingston is expected to challenge Humphrey for the spot next season.
Owen Schafer (junior; Sandusky, OH)
Owen Schafer is a transfer student from Heidleberg College. Last season, Schafer cracked the Ohio State lineup when Enright was injured and Humphrey was held out. Schafer finished with a record and was named a 2007 Academic All Big Ten. Over the next two years, Schafer can be expected to provide depth at 133 and 141 pounds.
Ohio State in 2006-2007: 141 pounds
J. Jaggers went 21-10 on the season for Ohio State placing seventh at both the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments. He did not place at the Las Vegas Invitational, defaulted out of the Southern Scuffle, and did not compete at the Eastern Michigan or Michigan State Opens. In dual meet competition, Jaggers went 10-4 overall and 5-3 record in Big Ten.
Jaggers’ decision win over James Kohlberg were the last points for Ohio State in their dual meet upset of Northwestern. He also had the second fastest pin in Big Ten Tournament history when he stopped Purdue’s Nick Bertucci in twenty-five seconds.
2007-2008 Big Ten Outlook: 141 pounds
Northwestern senior Ryan Lang is the defending Big Ten champion and the 2007 NCAA runner up. A four time state champion for Lakewood St. Edward, Lang will be the favorite at 141 pounds and a top contender at 149 if he moves up. The only other Big Ten wrestler to earn All American honors at 141 pounds in 2007 was Ohio State junior J. Jaggers. After a seventh place finish at 133 pounds last season, Penn State junior Jake Strayer is anticipated to make the move to 141 pounds this year. Iowa senior Alex Tsirtis earned All American honors with a seventh place finish at the 2006 NCAA Tournament but failed to place last season.
Two other wrestlers in contention and looking to improve their NCAA Tournament showing are 2007 Big Ten place winners Kyle Ruschell (Wisconsin; sophomore) and Manuel Rivera (Minnesota; senior). Ruschell went 6-2 in duals and knocked off the fourth and first seeds before falling in the conference finals. Manuel Rivera won thirty five consecutive matches before being upset by Ruschell at the Big Ten Tournament and seeing injuries mar a dominating season.
In replacing graduating seniors, two wrestlers are looking to wrestle 141 pounds after wrestling at 149 pounds last season. Michigan State is expected to start junior Jeff Wimberly and Illinois is anticipating junior Troy Tirapelle making the drop. Barring a lineup shift from below, Indiana sophomore Scott Kelly should return as their starter. Purdue is expected to start sophomore Matt Redmond. Michigan sophomore Justin Chrzanwski will be challenged by true freshman Kellen Russell, a three time National Prep champ and 2007 NHSCA Senior National champion.
Heading into the season healthy, a healthy Jaggers will look to regain the consistency he showed in 2006 and improve upon his 2007 All American finish. Jaggers biggest obstacle may be Ryan Lang, but he won’t see him or Troy Tirapelle until the Big Ten Tournament as Ohio State misses both Northwestern and Illinois this year. Lang won a 3-1 overtime decision over Jaggers in the conference semifinals; while Tirapelle dropping renews a personal rivalry that goes back to high school. Ohio State will be counting on Jaggers to have a strong regular season and Big Ten Tournament. Expectations will not change with either T.J. Enright or Reece Humphrey as a starter at 141 pounds.
2007 Big Ten Tournament Place Winners (2008 Class Rank)
First: Ryan Lang (Northwestern; senior) NCAA: 2007 second; 2006 fourth
Second: Kyle Ruschell (Wisconsin; sophomore)
Third: Alex Tsirtis (Iowa; senior) NCAA: 2006 seventh
Fourth: Andy Simmons (Michigan State) Graduated; NCAA: 2006 fifth, 2005 sixth
Fifth: Manuel Rivera (Minnesota; senior)
Sixth: Casio Pero (Illinois) Graduated
Seventh: J. Jaggers (Ohio State; junior) NCAA: 2007 seventh
Eighth: Bryan Heller (Penn State) sophomore
DNP: Scott Kelly (Indiana; sophomore); Justin Chrzanowski (Michigan, junior); and Nick Bertucci (Purdue; senior)
2007-2008 NCAA Outlook: 141 pounds
Senior Derek Moore upset Northwestern’s Ryan Lang in the finals last season to become the first national champion and the only All American in the history UC Davis. While Moore has graduated, Lang returns as a preseason favorite at 141 or 149 pounds. If Lang moves on, Hofstra senior Charles Griffin is the highest returning place winner after taking third last season. Oklahoma State senior Nathan Morgan and West Virginia junior Brandon Rader will be attempting to become three time All Americans this year after placing each of the last two seasons.
Rounding out the field of returning All Americans looking to repeat or improve are Rider senior Don Frisch, Ohio State junior J. Jaggers, Penn State junior Jake Strayer, and Iowa senior Alex Tsirtis. Last season both Frisch and Jaggers won honors at 141 pounds; Strayer at 133 pounds; while Tsirtis was a 2006 All American at 141 pounds.
Other wrestlers looking for an improved finish in a return at 141 pounds are Minnesota senior Manuel Rivera, Wisconsin sophomore Kyle Ruschell, and Northern Colorado junior Kenneth Hashimoto. Wrestlers anticipated making the move to 141 pounds include Harvard senior Robbie Preston, Cornell sophomore Adam Frey, and Iowa State sophomore Nick Gallick. Last season at 133 pounds Gallick went 2-2 at the NCAA Tournament, Preston reached the round of twelve going 3-2, and Frey won one match as the third seed. Frey was the only wrestler to fail to make weight the second day of the tournament and was disqualified from the tournament. Illinois junior Troy Tirapelle will also be seeking redemption of sorts after failing to qualify for the NCAA Tournament last season.
J. Jaggers will be expected to qualify for his third NCAA Tournament this season. After not being able to wrestle in 2006, Jaggers was a surprise All American last season. While he was ranked in the top eight all season at 149 pounds as a freshman, his sophomore effort was inconsistent and injury plagued before the strong finish. As a junior, Jaggers will return to 141 and will be counted on to improve his finish during the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments. While he flew somewhat under the radar last season, Jaggers was wrestling his best in March and would like to carry that over to this season. Jaggers will be counted on to score and place at the NCAA Tournament.
2007 NCAA Tournament Place Winners (2008 Class Rank)
First: Derek Moore (UC-Davis) Graduated
Second: Ryan Lang (Northwestern; senior) NCAA: 2007 second; 2006 fourth
Third: Charles Griffin (Hofstra; senior)
Fourth: Nathan Morgan (Oklahoma State; senior) NCAA: 2007 fourth; 2006 sixth
Fifth: Don Fisch (Rider; senior)
Sixth: Brandon Rader (West Virginia; junior) NCAA: 2007 sixth; 2006 sixth
Seventh: Jeff Jaggers (Ohio State; junior)
Eighth: Max Meltzer (Harvard) Graduated
DNP: Andy Simmons (Michigan State) Graduated; NCAA: 2006 fifth, 2005 sixth