Buckeyes Encouraged By Impact of Freshmen

Thanks to “TheOhioState “for posting this to TheMat college forum


Buckeyes encouraged by impact of freshmen
Friday, December 17, 2004

Scott Priestle

Inside the Ohio State wrestling room, the seeds have been planted for
another late-season bloom. It surely will be a more modest bloom this
season than last, when the Buckeyes finished third at the NCAA
Tournament, but coach Russ Hellickson is confident another such display
is coming in the years ahead.

For now, most of the growth is beneath the surface. It is a true
freshman standing toe to toe with a three-time All-American, or another
true freshman inserted into the lineup because of injuries and holding
his own against tough competition. Of the Buckeyes’ 159 team points
this season, 78 have come from freshmen.

“These guys are doing it, “Hellickson said. “Slowly but surely.”

J.D. Bergman was the first to break through, placing third in the
nation at 197 pounds last season as a true freshman. He is now a known
quantity, an unquestioned leader on the mat for an Ohio State team that
will be desperate for points this season.

It appears T.J. Enright is next to break through. A redshirt freshman
from Westland High School, he is 15-2 and ranked as high as 11 th in
the nation at 133 pounds, after being unranked at the start of the

“I thought at the beginning of the year I should have been a little
higher ranked than I was, “Enright said. “I knew it was going to take
some time; I had to beat some quality guys. But I knew it was going to

He opened the season with wins at the Oklahoma Gold Classic and the
Michigan State Open, becoming the first OSU freshman since Hellickson
arrived in 1986 to win his first two collegiate tournaments. Enright
recorded three pins at Michigan State and was named the outstanding
wrestler of the tournament and Big Ten wrestler of the week. He is the
only OSU wrestler to place in all three of the team’s tournaments to

“It was a good jump in, “Hellickson said. “But how you respond to that
will determine how much better you get by the end of the year. It’s all
an improvement process. A kid with the right kind of attitude, that’s
hungry, that’s doing it the right way will mature, and he’ll excel more
and more all the time. I think I have a lot of guys like that on this

Specifically, he mentioned true freshmen Jason Johnstone and Keegan
Mueller, two highly regarded recruits who are adjusting to college
wrestling on the fly.

Johnstone expected to redshirt, but when J. Jaggers suffered a
season-ending elbow injury, Johnstone stepped in at 149 pounds and has
gone 6-6. Mueller won the starting spot at 157 and is 8-6, including a
tough loss last weekend to three-time All-American Jake Percival of
Ohio University.

“He matured. He figured out something there, even if he is losing, ”
Hellickson said. “And when a guy is figuring it out when he’s losing,
pretty soon he doesn’t lose much. . . . I’m very encouraged by what
this team has to offer.”

Enright simply has been offering it sooner, with a team-high 15 wins
and 33.5 team points.

“It’s a good thing to build on at the beginning of the year, “he said.
“But Russ always preaches about training for the end of the year. We’re
ultimately training for the NCAAs.”

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