(Hempstead, NY)—At the end of the day, the scoreboard read: Ohio State University 19, Hofstra University 13. However, if you are someone who only looked at the box score, you really have no idea what today’s festivities were all about. Yes, it was a dual meet between two top-20 teams. However, it was also a lot more than that. It was a return home for Buckeye Coach, Tom Ryan, who in addition to calling Hofstra University home for 11 seasons (1995-2006) as their head coach, is also Long Island born and bred, shaping his craft at Wantagh High School before going on to NCAA glory at first Syracuse and then Iowa; It was also a day for paying respect to three people whose names will forever live in the hearts ad minds of HU fans everywhere—Ray Downey, Rudy Fiorvanti, and Teague Ryan. Ohio State may have won a wrestling match. Yet, for the approximately 2,000 people in attendance this afternoon, Sunday January 25th was a day were we all got our hands raised.
Starting out in the 149-pound weight class, #4 Lance Palmer showed the Hofstra crowd just why he is already a two-time All-American, controlling redshirt freshman, P.J. Gillespie from almost the onset. After securing the first takedown with :30 remaining in the opening period, Palmer went to work on top, trying ferociously to crank Gillespie to his back with a power half. While Palmer was unsuccessful in getting any nearfall points, he did ride out the the remainder of the period to lead 2-0 after the first three minutes. Unfortunately for the local boy from Long Beach, NY, the second and third periods did not differ much from the first. After earning a quick reversal to increase the lead to 4-0 to start the middle stanza, Palmer proceeded to ride out the remainder of the second period and all of the third to account for the final, 5-0 score to give the Buckeyes the early 3-0 lead.
This lead would be short lived though, as the Pride stormed back with authority, thanks in large part to the bottomless gas tank of junior, Jon Bonilla-Bowman. After surrendering the opening takedown of the bout, the native of Pomona, NY went on a scoring spree that saw him convert six takedowns, coupled with a pair of escapes and the riding time advantage to finish off the unlikely 15-6 major decision. For Bonilla-Bowman, this win was a kind of payback for last season when Johnstone was victorious, 6-5 in an Ohio State victory at the National Duals.
The Pride and Buckeyes would split the next two matches, with neither bout being what the common fan would describe as being particularly exciting. At 165, Colt Sponseller, known for his explosiveness from the feet, demonstrated how solid he can be from the top position, riding out Ryan Patrovich for the entire second period in a abattle of super sophomores. Sponseller would add a third period escape to emerge with the 2-0 shutout….Alton Lucas capitalized on his superior quickness and strength to muster a pair of takedowns, as well as an escape and riding point to lock up a 6-2 decision at 174 pounds over the Buckeyes’ Dave Rella.
Returning National Champion, Mike Pucillo would send the Columbus, OH based institution into the intermission break with a 10-7 lead after scoring early and often against a clearly overmatched Anthony Tortora. From the beginning of this match, when Pucillo finished a takedown seemingly off of the handshake, it was apparent that this one was heading for bonus points. Much to his credit, Tortora never stopped fighting. But, Pucillo proved to be every bit as good as the crowd expected. In a semi homecoming for him (he spent his freshman year at Hofstra before following Coach Ryan to Ohio State), Pucillo was dominant in every position, compiling takedown after takedown, as well a two-point tilt and the riding time advantage. Given how the match was going, some may say that the 16-4 major decision that Pucillo earned was actually a victory for the Pride senior, because he managed to keep it to only a single bonus point.
Following a 10-15 minute break where the host school announced its intent to name the soon to be constructed new wrestling facility after Teague Ryan (the late son of Tom Ryan who passed away in 2004 at the age of five), as well as paid tribute to Chief Ray Downey (fallen 9-11 hero) and Rudy Fiorvanti (former three sport athlete at Hofstra; Lost his battle with cancer in 2007) , the Pride would even the dual at 10 apiece when true freshman Ben Clymer, wrestling up from his normal starting spot at 184 pounds, managed the only takedown of the bout in the first period, winning by the closest of margins, 3-2 over the noticeably larger Gardner. Even in defeat, I must give credit to Gardner who seemed to remain on the offensive throughout the match, thus dispelling any rumors that he was lacking in heart. If not for a couple of nice sprawls by Clymer in the closing minute, this bout could have easily gone the way of the Bucks.
A 6-5 come from behind decision victory by17th ranked Corey Morrison over Jordan Enck would briefly pull the Big-X power back into the lead. However, much like the effort the Pride got out of Clymer, it would be another true freshman who would knot the score at 13 with only a pair of bouts to go. Trailing 2-0 heading into the final period, it was fitting that on a day that one of Wantagh’s favorite sons returned home, it would be another former Warrior who would prove big for his team. Locking up a pair of tilts, as well as erasing the riding time advantage held by Nikko Triggas, Steve Bonanno, would go on to score the final five points of the dual to pull the minor upset over the more experienced Triggas.
With the score deadlocked, the most anticipated bout of the dual, #2 Reece Humphrey vs. #9 Lou Ruggirello lived up to the hype and more so. Trailing 2-1 after two minutes, Ruggirello proceeded to ride out the entire second period, and then escaped quickly in the third to tie the score at 2-2. After an illegal slam call on Humphrey made the score 3-2 (4-2 with riding time locked up), all of a sudden a Pride victory or tie seemed possible. However, as the saying goes, the win just was not in the cards for the Pride, as Humphrey would lock up a cradle in front of the Pride bench with a little less than a minute remaining to get 2+3 and jump ahead 7-3. Ruggirello would never get out from bottom and even with the riding point, had to watch as his shot at victory turned into a 7-4 defeat.
The final bout of the dual started out with fireworks for the home crowd as Justin Accordino hit a cement mixer on returning NCAA Champion, J Jaggers. Fortunately for the Buckeye fans in attendance and following at home, the more experienced Jaggers was able to get to his belly and only surrendered the TD in what could have a “pin and the win” for the sometimes irratic Pride RS frosh from Wilkes-Barre, PA. Jaggers would cut the score to 2-1 with an escape to end the first period. After exchanging escapes to start the second and third periods, again it seemed like the Pride had reason to believe that they would walk away with a hard fought tie. But, yet again, the more polished tOSU wrestler would rally in the final minute. After converting the TD to take his first lead of the bout, Jaggers appeared to be close to getting reversed. However, before Accordino could scoot behind and establish control, the official called a stalemate, much to the dismay of the HU loyalists. With this call, all Hofstra hope was lost. The restart with 10 seconds remaining did not produce much and Jaggers rode out the final seconds to sneak over the 1:00 mark of RT advantage and pad the lead to 5-3.
#5 Ohio State-19; #20 Hofstra-13
149- #4 Lance Palmer (Ohio State) dec P.J. Gillespie (HU), 5-0
157- Jon Bonilla-Bowman (HU) MD #15 Jason Johnstone (Ohio State), 15-6
165- #4 Colt Sponseller (Ohio State) dec #20 Ryan Patrovich (HU), 2-0
174- #11 Alton Lucas (HU) dec Dave Rella (Ohio State), 6-2
184- #2 Mike Pucillo (Ohio State) MD Anthony Tortora (HU), 16-4
197- Ben Clymer (HU) dec Cody Gardner (Ohio State), 3-2
285- #17 Corey Morrison (Ohio State) dec Jordan Enck (HU), 6-5
125- Steve Bonanno (HU) dec Nikko Triggas (Ohio State), 5-2
133- #2 Reece Humphrey (Ohio State) dec #9 Lou Ruggirello (HU), 7-4
141- #12 J Jaggers (Ohio State) dec Justin Accordino (HU), 5-3