Three Big Ten Squads to Open 2004-05 Wrestling Season This Weekend

Nov. 3, 2004

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The 2004-05 edition of Big Ten wrestling takes to the mat this weekend, as three Conference teams are set to compete.  Wisconsin, ranked No. 18 in the country by NWCA/InterMat, travels to Green Bay, Wis., to face UW-Oshkosh in a 12:30 p.m. dual on Friday, November 5.  No. 6 Michigan will join Michigan State on Saturday, November 6, at the Eastern Michigan Open in Ypsilanti, Mich.

Illinois is tops among seven League squads ranked in the top 25, as the No. 7 Fighting Illini are coming off a seventh-place finish at the NCAA Championships.  Following Michigan in the polls at No. 7 is Minnesota - a team that placed eight last year at NCAAs and had a national champion at 197 lbs. in Damion Hahn.  The former Golden Gopher was also named the Big Ten Athlete of the Year last season.

Iowa, the 2004 Conference champion, ranks ninth in the country after an impressive runner-up finish at NCAAs last season.  Cliff Moore, who was recently hired by head coach Jim Zalesky as the Hawkeyes' strength and conditioning coach, was the NCAA champion last season at 141.  During his career, Moore captured two Big Ten titles and was a three-time All-American.

Rounding out the seven Big Ten teams in the national poll is Penn State at No. 17, followed by Wisconsin and No. 21 Purdue.  The Nittany Lions will look to fill a void at 133 and heavyweight after the graduation of All-Americans Josh Moore and Pat Cummins.  Both fell in their NCAA Championship final last season to complete their careers.  Wisconsin welcomes back the 2004 League champion at 125, junior Tom Clum, while Purdue returns Doug Withstandley, a Big Ten runner-up at 141.

Ohio State, which is not ranked nationally, finished tied for third last year at NCAAs, but lost 2004 national heavyweight champion Tommy Rowlands to graduation.  Rowlands, a 2002 NCAA champion as well and the most decorated wrestler in Ohio State history, is one of only two Buckeyes to win two national titles and the first to earn All-America honors four times.  Rowlands assumes a volunteer coaching position at Ohio State this season.