Updated Fri, Nov 8, 2013 8:16 pm
Ohio Wrestling opens the 2013-14 season as the favorite to win the Mid-American Conference and brings a team of wrestlers gaining national attention. A big team with big goals, Ohio will look to its stalwarts in Jeremy Johnson, Cody Walters, Phil Wellington and others to carry the load this season. Ohio Wrestling is brimming with Bobcats hopeful to make their marks on the MAC and the NCAA this winter.
KeVon Powell: He is the starter at 125, and after qualifying for the 2013 NCAA Tournament as a true freshman it is a no-brainer. He had a record of 8-15 last year but wrestled his best at the right time. Powell went 3-1 at the MAC Tournament to earn a berth at Des Moines. This quick and athletic wrestler notes wrestling on his feet and racking up take downs as his strengths. Powell works best in open spaces. With a full year under his belt he learned how to manage his weight better, so in practice his focus is on improving his abilities.
Sebastian Arroyo: Arroyo will likely be the next wrestler up behind Powell. The true freshman was defeated by Powell, 17-1, in Ohio’s Green and White Match. Arroyo has surely learned plenty from Powell and other wrestlers near his weight class, picking up different wrestling styles from each teammate. He cites wrestling on his feet as his best position, and there he is best defensively. He shows flashes of a good offensive game, but says he wants to improve. Arroyo says he has been humbled by the collegiate style of wrestling and wants to be more physical moving forward.
Sebastian Pique: Unfortunately for the freshman he has not gotten in much wrestling since joining the Bobcats. In July he suffered from an injured shoulder and will have another three months until he can begin practicing with the team. It will likely be four months until he can begin live wrestling. With his injury, he the 125-pounder will obviously redshirt. Besides getting healthy this year, Sebastian wants to get stronger and bigger and improve his mat wrestling. With his down time he has watched a lot of film and observed his teammates go at it in the wrestling room. He is best in neutral position.
Kagan Squire: Squire wrestled last season for the Bobcats at 141 pounds and finished the season with a 15-17 record. He should be the starter as long as he is healthy. The sophomore grappler underwent surgery on his shoulder in the offseason and after going through rehabilitation, he was unable to train and lift as he should have. Without lifting he lost a lot of muscle. Squire was a smaller 141-pounder last season, so according to head coach Joel Greenlee it made sense for him to wrestle at 133 this season. Squire is best on his feet and is a good hand-fighter. He is always in good positions so as not to make himself vulnerable, and is a solid wrestler on top.
Garret Garness: The redshirt sophomore is one of Ohio’s most experienced wrestlers at 133. During his redshirt season last year, he went 9-9 in open competition. Garness is a viable candidate to fill in at 133 while Squire’s health improves. The 133-pounder has a relentless motor and leads by example. He wrestles best on his feet but still wants to improve his transitions to finish on his feet. He is known on the team for his heavy headlock.
Angelo DiSabato: The other redshirt sophomore at 133, he too is a plausible candidate to fill in at 133 to begin the season. DiSabato saw action in three matches last season and pinned Garness in the Green and White Match. He is a leader by example who believes his work ethic in practice is something to show younger wrestlers what college wrestling is all about. DiSabato is best at neutral position and likes to impose his will on his opponent by pushing him around the mat. He says he is especially strong for a 133-pounder, which gives him an edge on the mat.
Thomas McLaughlin: He is yet another able starter while Squire heals up. McLaughlin says he is a very straight-forward wrestler and says persistence is his strength along with the neutral position. His persistence is certainly positive but McLaughlin says at times it is a flaw. His persistence sometimes blinds him to see all the angles to a problem. This season he wants to focus on setting up angles and improve his mat wrestling.
Joel Schump: Due to the depth at the 133 class, Schump will most certainly redshirt this year. The freshman has enjoyed learning from the other 133-pounders in his class. He is solid defensively on his feet. During his redshirt season he will need to improve on bottom and top positions.
Zak Hassan: Like Schump, this freshman expects to redshirt during the 2013-14 season. Hassan is learning what college wrestling is about from this deep class. As a redshirt he wants to get in as many matches as possible at opens. Neutral position is his strong suit and he will look to improve his mat wrestling on top and bottom.
Noah Forrider: The true freshman from Marysville High School (Ohio) is the leading candidate to take the starting job. He strengthened his case with a 9-4 win over Billy Waldeck in the Green and White Match. According to Ohio assistant coach Kyle Hansen, Forrider is very tough in neutral position with two great shots from his feet. He is very quick with good reaction time. He has improved his scrambling, bottom position and hand fighting with help from Tywan Claxton, Andrew Romanchik and Squire respectively.
Billy Waldeck: The true freshman is a goofy and funky wrestler according to Hansen. By that he means Waldeck can wrestle untraditionally. Waldeck’s style can sometimes be an advantage as his opponents may not be prepared for the style they encounter. The 141-pound freshman believes his dedication is one of his strengths and he wants to improve his wrestling on top.
Brendan Quigley: Like Waldeck, Quigley is a funky wrestler, according to Hansen. Quigley is solid in every position, especially top, and is a hard worker with the self discipline to keep his weight down easily. If he redshirts this season he wants to get in as much wrestling as possible and improve his mental approach to wrestling. His calm demeanor results in stress-free wrestling.
Jacob Rockoff: A walk-on last season, Rockoff will be the backup at 141 should Waldeck and Quigley redshirt. Rockoff is a wrestler with a big heart who does all the small things right and with all his effort. He wrestles best on his feet but needs to improve his wrestling on top and bottom.
Tywan Claxton: A former All-American at Division II school King College, the junior is the favorite to take the starting job. After his freshman year at King College, Claxton transferred to Ohio last semester. The transition has been easy for the former All-American because he already had friends on the team in Cody Walters, Phil Wellington and Jeremy Johnson. Claxton is fast wrestler with a relentless motor who likes to dominate his opponent. “It sounds mean but I want to make everyone I wrestle look stupid,” he said. His speed is a plus but can also be a downfall as he has a tendency to put himself in bad positions. Assistant coach Germaine Lindsey has been a mentor to Claxton, helping him stay in good positions. Coming from a small school, Claxton is not ranked in any preseason polls. He is an unknown wrestler, and he likes it that way. He hopes to surprise his opponents this season.
Cullen Cummings: The true freshman has been a pleasant surprise according to Greenlee. The Bobcat coach says Cummings is even better than he looked during the recruiting process. Cummings took his lumps in the beginning of the offseason but is much improved. The freshman pushed Claxton for the starting job but lost to the junior 6-1 in the Green and White Match. His strengths are his mat wrestling and he looks to improve his wrestling on bottom, where he says most incoming freshmen struggle. Cummings’ goal for the season is to crack the varsity lineup more than once, where he believes once he does anything can happen.
Zach Rohr: Rohr wrestled at 157 pounds last season and picked up five victories. Injuries along with Sparty Chino taking firm control on the 157-pound starting job, limited Rohr’s time on the mat. Greenlee says 149 pounds suits the redshirt sophomore better and that he should have been a 149-pounder all along. After redshirting his first year at Ohio and dealing with injuries last year, Rohr has wrestled as much as he would have liked. According to his coach, Rohr is one of the most technically sound wrestlers on the team and is best on his feet. If he can get on the mat this season, Rohr expects to do great things, citing a trip to the national tournament as one of his goals.
Thomas Williams: Behind Claxton, Rohr and Cummings, it is likely Williams will redshirt this season. The freshman will look to perfect his wrestling technique and get stronger while redshirting. He wrestles best on his feet and like many other freshman needs to improve his technique in top and bottom positions. According to Hansen, Williams is a hard worker who more times than not will be in better shape than is opponent.
Sparty Chino: In his first year as a starter, Chino finished last season with a 20-15 record and a trip to the NCAA Championships. Chino defeated a two-time All-American and the 10th seed in Walter Peppelman in the opening round of the tournament. Chino, who is an extremely explosive wrestler, will certainly be the starter again. He is solid in all positions and is one of the more vocal leaders in the wrestling room and is a great example for younger wrestlers. He is also an avid learner, a true student of the sport. More times than not, Chino will be the most athletic wrestler on the mat. While explosive from his feet, his weakest position is bottom, but after a great deal of work in the offseason, he feels comfortable there. Hungry for more, Chino’s eyes are now set on All-American status and a national championship. For extra motivation the 157-pounder hung a picture in his locker of himself losing his last match at nationals.
Andrew Romanchik: Last year Romanchik was Ohio’s primary starter at 149 pounds and went 16-10. Last season the junior cut a lot of weight to make 149 pounds and this year he will remain at his more natural weight at 157. “Romo,” as he is known by his teammates, will likely take his redshirt this year to get healthy and improve his wrestling. In February he tore a labrum but wrestled through it. After undergoing surgery in April, he was able to start training until summer, and he is finally back to live wrestling. As a redshirt he will not need to cut weight as severely, and without competition Romo is looking forward to getting stronger and improving his technique. Unlike most wrestlers at Ohio, Romo’s strengths are top and bottom positions. He attributes that to wrestling a lot in Pennsylvania, which is known for its mat wrestling. This season he will look to get better on his feet. As long as Chino stays healthy, Romo will get his wish to redshirt.
Harrison Hightower: The redshirt junior is one of the Bobcats’ most experienced grapplers, and will be the starter at 165 this season. Hightower is coming off of consecutive 20-plus win seasons. Though well accomplished, he fell just a match or two short from reaching the NCAA Championships. Hightower leads by example and is one of the best conditioned wrestlers on the team. He shows his desire to get better in that he thinks there is still room to improve his conditioning. The junior is best when he is on top. “That guy is a beast when he gets on top he is lights out,” Greenlee said. Hightower has used missing out on the national tournament as motivation to work even harder this offseason. “It’s got to be my year,” Hightower said. “I don’t want to wait until my final year to finally make it there.”
Marshall Willet: Should Hightower not be able to go in a match, Willet is a more than capable replacement. Greenlee believes that if Willet were to get in the spotlight, he would flourish and get even better. The problem for Willet is that Hightower keeps relatively healthy. Like Hightower, this 165-pounder is well conditioned. He is best on his feet and works especially hard. Willet is also a big motivator to his teammates in the wrestling room and outside.
Zach Mays: Mays comes to Ohio familiar with the program, coming from Nelsonville-York High School, which is just a quick 15-minute drive away from campus. He wrestles best on his feet and will redshirt this year, looking to improve his wrestling on top in the meantime. Mays certainly has good teammates to learn from in Hightower and Willet.
Cody Walters: Last year Walters compiled 39 wins and MAC title en route to earning All-American status at the NCAA tournament. Walters says though he is not a man of many words, he is a leader by example. He likes to be the hardest worker in the room. Walters is a funky wrestler and that makes him hard to score on at times. He is also very hard to escape from. “I consider myself a bear on top,” he said. Walters will no doubt start this season but where might be the getter question. The 174-pounder has flirted with jumping up to 184 pounds, but ultimately it seems that he will stay at 174. Greenlee says Walters makes the team best at 174. The All-American and MAC champ has his sights set on another MAC title, and the next time he makes it to the NCAA Championships, he wants to leave a champion.
Chaz Gresham: Last year Gresham came in to Ohio as a 174-pounder but was at 184 for most of the season. As a redshirt, coach Hansen said it didn’t make much sense for Gresham to cut weight, and with Walters at 174 the coaches decided to prepare him for ’84. Gresham arrived in Athens rather light last summer so he will stay at 174. The redshirt freshman is a great athlete who is very explosive. He also is solid defensively and has great awareness for a younger wrestler. He has a good shot at being Walters’ backup in the 2013-14 campaign.
Jason Allen: Allen is a walk-on this year, who wrestled last year at Lake Erie College. He transferred to Ohio and did not plan on wrestling this year, but friends and family convinced him otherwise. Truth-be-told, even Greenlee does not know much about the sophomore. Because Allen planned on quitting wrestling, he did not wrestle at all this summer. He is a good candidate to redshirt this season. His upper body is very strong but he needs to improve his technique and get better on the mat.
Antonio Reynolds: This freshman is a long, lanky wrestler. He is best in top position but sometimes struggles to stay in his stance. He will likely redshirt this season and during that time he needs to gain experience at the college level and work on his stance.
Ryan Garringer: At a class of relative uncertainty, Garringer seems to be the frontrunner for the starting job. The redshirt senior’s experience gives him the edge to take the job. Two seasons ago he qualified for the NCAA Championships but his effort to return to the tournament last year was maligned by a bicep injury. As long as Garringer has been at Ohio, he has naturally become a leader on the team. He makes sure to get in a lot of extra workouts to help him gain an edge. He wrestles best on his feet and with that he will look to get back to qualifying form this year.
Cody Rodgers: As a redshirt freshman, Rodgers picked up four wins. He filled in for Garringer at times, but he was also injured. Rodgers is the tallest wrestler on the team, which can give him an advantage on the mat. Rodgers’ great height can make wrestling him awkward for other 184-pounders. Should he need to start any match at 184, Rodgers is healthy and confident.
Phil Wellington: In 2012-13, he won 25 matches and earned a trip to the national tournament. He will be the starter this season. According to his head coach, Wellington has one of the best work ethics on the team as well as one of the biggest gas tanks. Though a 197-pounder, Wellington wrestled a lot in the offseason with Ohio’s heavyweight, Jeremy Johnson. Wellington has become a student of the sport this year, watching film like never at home or in the film room with teammates. Wellington is best on his feet, where he gets most of his takedowns. Last season he struggled on bottom, but he worked a lot to improve there in the offseason and his work should pay off in more wins.
Beau Wenger: Before Wellington arrived in Athens two years ago, Wenger was the starter at 197. The senior is a talented wrestler who is technically sound according to his coaches, but both Wenger and Greenlee agree he needs to improve his conditioning. He wrestles well on his feet where he can cause havoc for his opponents.
Kyle O’Donnell: O’Donnell is a rather thin wrestler, but his strength and muscle mass puts him in the 197 slot. Unfortunately for the redshirt junior, his health, or lack thereof has hampered his chances for success. He is solid in all positions but without consistent practice over the years he has not had a chance to make significant gains. With past injury issues with his shoulders and knees, O’Donnell makes sure to rehab, gets plenty of sleep and eats well. With injuries keeping him off the mat, he has developed into a great leader. This year he is feeling as good as ever, and looking forward to wrestling again.
285 pounds (Heavyweight):
Jeremy Johnson: After qualifying for the NCAA Championship three times, earning All-American status two years ago and putting together three seasons of 30-plus wins, the redshirt senior is undoubtedly the Bobcats’ team leader. “Train,” as he is known by his coaches and teammates, is a positive guy in everything he says and does and is always the hardest worker in the practice room. “Train can wrestle all day every day and love it,” Greenlee said. “He’s got a gas tank like no other.” His work ethic and desire make him one of the best conditioned wrestlers on the team. Johnson wrestles best on his feet but is solid everywhere. If there is any weakness in Johnson’s game, it might be that he sometimes wrestles too hard. Greenlee says Johnson sometimes wrestles so hard that he occasionally misses out on scoring opportunities. Johnson says walking off the mat in defeat at the NCAA Championships last season was probably the hardest thing he has done in his life. To avoid that feeling again and to reach the podium this season he was motivated in the offseason to compete in every tournament possible and work as hard as ever.
Greg Moray: With Johnson in the starting spot, Moray will definitely spend this season as a redshirt. Moray is very strong, and very raw, which Greenlee sees as strength for him going forward. Unusual for incoming freshmen, Moray is best in top position, but is also pretty solid on his feet. His brute strength is undeniable, but it does not do him much good against a beast like Johnson. Moray wants to be more physical and get tougher mentally, and he has quite the mentor in Johnson.