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Records don’t matter,’ coach says of 2-11 wrestling squad preparing for Big Ten Tournament

Daniel Zaas / Lantern photographer

Although the Buckeyes’ wrestling season might not have lived up to expectations, the team is entering the Big Ten Tournament boasting five seeded competitors.

Coach Tom Ryan called this tournament the beginning of the real season.

Senior captain Colt Sponseller, 165 pounds, and redshirt freshman Nick Heflin, 174 pounds, were selected as No. 2 seeds for the weekend’s tournament. The two are tied for the most wins on the team at 19 each.

Redshirt freshman Peter Capone, 197 pounds, redshirt sophomore captain C.J. Magrum, 184 pounds, and sophomore captain Ian Paddock, 133 pounds, all received seeds for the tournament. Magrum was given a No. 7 seed, while Capone and Paddock received No. 8 seeds.

For the Buckeyes (2-11, 1-7 Big Ten), seeds do not mean much.

“Seedings don’t matter,” Heflin said. “You have to beat everyone to win it anyway.”

Although the Buckeyes’ season has not been great, Ryan said this is where the real season starts for the competitors.

“In the competitive world, the season starts now. Records don’t matter; mentality matters,” Ryan said. “I’m sure all our guys are anxious to compete.”

The team has been preparing hard for the Big Ten Tournament, and wrestlers said the week following their last dual was filled with two practices per day.

“We’ve had a couple of hard weeks,” Paddock said.

Capone said the team brought in Tommy Rowlands — who won two National Championships for Ohio State in 2002 and 2004 — to help the team prepare for the tournament. Capone welcomed the chance to train with the former National Champion.

“He kills me for 10 minutes straight, then for another 10 minutes,” Capone said, “so I can’t even barely stand.”

Capone said he hopes training will make facing someone in his weight class easier as he grows accustomed to wrestling the former heavyweight National Champion.

Magrum said he is looking forward to a potential rematch with Iowa’s Grant Gambrall.

“That was an upsetting one. I started off winning the match, and ended up getting beat pretty bad,” Magrum said. “I’d like another shot at that.”

Sponseller said he’s looking to put the “icing on the cake” of his Big Ten career.

“I want to go out there and win,” Sponseller said. “It’s the only thing I have on my mind right now is go out there and win a Big Ten title.”

The Buckeyes began the season as the No. 12 team, but injuries and inexperience have contributed to their less-than-stellar record. The team is looking to salvage what it can in the Big Ten Tournament, and send as many wrestlers as possible to the NCAA Championships.

“We just really want to go out there and get as many guys to nationals as we can,” Sponseller said.

Ryan agreed.

“Right now, this thing’s about qualifying for the national tournament,” Ryan said. “Right now, we got to get our guys to the national tournament and represent this program the way it needs to be.”

The Big Ten Tournament will be held Saturday and Sunday in Evanston, Ill.

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