What: #20 Hofstra University vs. #5 Ohio State
When: Sunday January 25th, 2009
Time: 1pm EST
Where: David S. Mack Sports And Exhibition Complex
Coverage: Live Text Coverage (Courtesy of LighthouseWrestling)
The Matchup: Steve Bonanno (HU) vs. Nikko Triggas (Ohio State)
Synopsis: Bonanno is coming off of a 3-1 effort at last weekend’s CAA duals where his only loss was to top-10 wrestler, James Nicholson of ODU. He will enter this dual with an overall record of 22-9, including wins in 15 of his last 18 bouts. Therefore, it would be an understatement to say that the true freshman from Wantagh, NY has greatly benefitted from working out with assistant coach, Joe Dubuque, on a daily basis. In wins over Penn State’s Brad Pataky and Missouri’s Troy Dolan, Bonanno has demonstrated that while he tends to be a slow starter, he only grows stronger as the match progresses. Bonanno has wins this season over a pair of nationally ranked wrestler (Pataky) and Cal Bakersfield’s Brandon Zoeteway (7-2 at the Southern Scuffle). Hence, he is no stranger to pulling the upset. With his opponent, Nikko Triggas always on the borderline of breaking into the national top-20, Bonanno will need to be on his game on Sunday if he hopes to get Pride off to a good start. For Bonanno to win, I beliebe he will need to push the action from the feet and then contain Triggas when on bottom….Triggas, a true sophomore who was a highly touted recruit coming out of the state of California, has shown flashes of brillance over the course of the last year and a half. Coming into the season ranked in the top-15 nationally, Triggas has not quite wrestled up to expectations in 2008/2009. While he possesses an impressive 16-8 record, he has managed only 19 takedowns all year. Where Triggas will pose the most trouble for Bonanno will be from the top position. Regarded as an extremely talented tilter, Triggas may be able to take advantage of Bonanno’s inexperience. The winner of this bout will be determined by where the bulk of the match is wrestled. If the HU wrestler is able to get out quickly from bottom or is able to rack up enough takedowns to avoid having to go down, then he should be in a good position to emerge with the “w”. If Triggas is able to hold his own or win the battle from neutral, then his extremely developed riding ability should make the difference.
Prediction: Bonanno Wins by Decision
Projected Team Score: 3-0 HU
Result: Bonanno (HU) Dec Triggas (tOSU), 5-2
The Matchup: #9 Lou Ruggirello (HU) vs. #2 Reece Humphrey (Ohio State)
Synopsis: Without question, the best single bout that has been wrestled this season at the Mack Sports Complex. After beating up oppponents from Wagner, Binghamton, and NC State in front of the home crowd, Ruggirello will be tested for the first time all season by an equally talented opponent in the person of Humphrey. With each owning a win over the other, the winner of the rubber match is anyone’s guess. Ruggirello is coming off of a perfect 4-0 record at the CAA duals with three first period pins (including a pin over top-20 wrestler, Kyle Hutter-ODU). In addition, over the course of his 2.5 year career, the former 3x NYS Champion has been the consummate dual wrestler, winning all nine dual bouts this season, and 20 of 21 in 2007/2008. Factor in the home arena advantage and the scene is set for “King Louie” to have a repeat performance of last season when he pinned then #2 Tyler McCormick of Missouri. In much the same way that Triggas will need to control his bout against Bonanno from top, Ruggirello will need to shorten the match as best as he can against Humphrey, the more developed and dangerous wrestler from the feet. If Ruggirello is able to secure a quick takedown off of the whistle (something he has done quite often this season), he will no doubt be looking to work his double bars for a quick fall (ala Hutter, Fanthorpe, Tanelli, McCormick). If Humphrey is able to strike first, it could be a long day for the #9 wrestler out of Valley Central. The Buckeye junior comes into this dual with unblemished 18-0 record on the year with his only “unofficial” defeat coming in the NWCA All-Star Classic to Navy’s Joe Baker (who also beat Ruggirello in the 2008 NCAA tournament). Humphrey too will bring a 9-0 dual record into Sunday’s much anticipated bout. Already will wins over the likes ofa Andrew Hochstrasser, Mike Grey, and Jayson Ness, it could be argued that Humphrey is one of, if not the hottest wrestler in the nation right now. With tOSU sizeable favorites at several of the later weight classes, if HU has any upset hopes, it will be essential that Ruggirello wrestle his best match of the year thus far and find a way to win. A Humphrey win may go a long way towards taking the enthusiasm out of the Pride faithful. Should Humphrey be victorious in this battle of top-10 wrestlers, their is reason to believe the Buckeyes will be well on their way towards crusing to a dual win.
Prediction: Ruggirello Wins by Decision
Projected Team Score: 6-0 Hofstra
Result: Humphrey (tOSU) Dec Ruggirello (HU), 7-4
The Matchup: Justin Accordino (HU) vs. #12 J. Jaggers (Ohio State)
Synopsis: If you had to compare Justin Accordino’s freshman campaign to a novel, A Tale of Two Cities would be the one that comes to mind. The best of times would be his upset over the current #11 wrestler in the nation, Marcus Hoehn from Missouri. The worst of times would have to be his major decision loss to Binghamton backup, Kareem Naguib. Last weekend, Accordino was solid, going 3-1 at the CAA duals with his lone loss to t0p-10 wrestler Ryan Williams from Old Dominion. Unfortunately, the way ’08/’09 has been going for him, there is no telling which Justin Accordino is going to show up against the Buckeyes. While he is extremely dangerous with his cement mixer, it is unlikely that he will be able to land such a big move against an experienced veteran such as J Jaggers. If Accordino is able to pull the major upset and win this contest, I think he will need to do so in a low scoring, slow down the pace manner. Jaggers is such a dynamic scrambler that the more action there is, the more opportunity he will have to showcase his funk and land a five point move….Like his redshirt freshman opponent, Jaggers, the 2008 NCAA Champion, has had kind of an up and down season himself. Taking the mat on Sunday with an overall record of 12-5, Jaggers had found himself on the wrong end of a few matches that he was considered a favorite in. Perhaps the most shocking loss on the year for the former Jr. Dan Hodge Award Winner was the 5-4 defeat at the hands of Edinboro’s Joel Webster. Fortunately for Buckeye fans, Jaggers has seemed to find his stride of late, going 4-0 at the NWCA National Duals, including a decision victory over the aforementioned Hoehn. If it is this Jaggers, the one who defeated former HU 2x All-American Charles Griffin, in the 2008 NCAA semifinal round, that shows up on Sunday, Accordino could be in danger of giving up bonus points. With the Pride already decided underdogs at six of 10 weights, they can little afford to surrender anything beyond a regular decision.
Prediction: Jaggers Wins By Decision
Projected Team Score: 6-3 Hofstra
Result: Jaggers (tOSU) Dec Accordino (HU), 5-3
The Matchup: P.J. Gilespie (HU) vs. #4 Lance Palmer (Ohio State)
Synopsis: P.J. Gillespie has to be the hardest wrestler on the Pride roster to predict. Unlike Accordino, who for the most part has beaten the guys he should and lost to the ones he shouldn’t, Gillespie has seemed to wrestle his best (in losing efforts) against national caliber competition, and his worst against opponents that he would be considered even or favored over. Last week at the CAA duals, Gillespie pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the event, knocking off Boston University’s Mike Roberts in his first bout of the day. However, rather than rally from this unexpected win, Gillespie seemed to wrestle down to the remainder of his competition, dropping his final three matches against lesser competition. Wheras the Long Beach product has kept bouts close with #2 Bubba Jenkins and almost pinned #3 Darrion Caldwell, he has struggled to break out the way Pride fans would have hoped when he was recruited. I suppose given his history, it is a good thing that Gillespie’s opponent will be #4 Lance Palmer. Gillespie will enter the dual with a 16-12 record, but is only 3-6 in duals this season…On the flip side, the 2x All-American, Palmer, has been about as steady as they come for Tom Ryan’s Buckeyes, going 15-2 (7-0 in duals). Palmer, an absolute beast from top is always a threat to power his opponent over to their back for nearfall points if not the fall. The longer that Gillespie can keep this one standing, the better it will be for him. Once it goes to the mat, expect Palmer to compile a plethora of riding time. Plus, with his brother Collin having just dropped an 8-5 decision to David Taylor in a battle of Ohio’s top-2 scholastic wrestlers, I would imagine that big brother will be hungry to make sure that the family goes .500 for the weekend. Palmer has a bottomless gas tank. Therefore, if he so chooses, he can push the pace and really look for bonus points. With the exception of the loss to Caldwell, Gillespie has not surrendered double digits in points this season. Therefore, I expect that his solid defense should enable him to avoid getting majored or teched. However, again, with a horse like Palmer on top, Gillespie will need to be very careful not to get power halfed to his back. If he does, that may be all she wrote for the Pride’s outside shot at the upset.
Prediction: Palmer Wins By Decision
Projected Team Score: 6-6
Result: Palmer (tOSU) Dec Gillespie (HU), 5-0
The Matchup: Jon Bonilla-Bowman (HU) vs. #15 Jason Johnstone (Ohio State)
Synopsis: Another Spring semester and again JBB has turned it on, winning 12 of his last 13 matches to improve his overall record to 15-6. As was the case last year in matches against the likes of Ryan Hluschak (twice) and Chris Oliver, Bonilla-Bowman seems to feed off of the involvement of the home crowd. Already known to have a gas tank second only to perhaps Iowa’s Brent Metcalf, the native of Pomona, NY has become famous for overcoming deficits after two periods to steal the match in the final frame. Unfortunately, most of the opponents that this approach has been successful against are not the same caliber as is Jason Johnstone. Therefore, if JBB has any hope at avenging a previous loss to the Buckeye senior, he needs to make sure he is able to keep any margin of deficit within reason heading into the third period…Johnstone, who is second for tOSU in takedowns so far this season with 57 is enjoying a monster senior year, not unlike former Tom Ryan wrestler, James Strouse who made All-American for the first time as a senior in 2007 (Ryan had already moved on to Ohio State, but gets credit for coaching Strouse for the previous four years). After compiling a sub .500 record (45-57) after three years, the former 2x Ohio State Champion from Massillon Perry comes into Sunday’s dual with a 17-6 record. After winnings his first four dual bouts of the season, Johnstone finds himself in a mini losing streak, having dropped his last four bouts. Therefore, he will be hungry to get off the schnide and return to his winning ways. Next to 133, this bout may be the most anticipated match of the dual. Despite only one of the competitors coming in ranked (Johnstone @15), this bout truly could go either way. While the perennial Big X power can afford the loss, the same cannot be said for the Pride. If Hofstra wants to shock the wrestling world, they will need their reigning conference champion to come up big for them. This extra level of motivation, coupled with the home crowd may prove to make the difference between who gets their hand raised tomorrow.
Prediction: Bonilla-Bowman Wins by Decision
Projected Team Score: 9-6 Hofstra
Result: Bonilla-Bowman (HU) MD Johnstone (tOSU), 15-6