Ohio State wrestling coach Tom Ryan is bringing his Buckeyes to Oak Harbor.
Ryan, OSU’s seventh-year coach and the 2009 National Coach of the Year, and the fifth-ranked Buckeyes will take on sixth-ranked Illinois in a Big Ten dual match at Oak Harbor High School at 2 p.m. on Feb. 1.
Ryan said this will be the sixth time he has taken his team on the road to compete at an Ohio high school. OSU features two former Oak Harbor wrestlers in redshirt senior Cody Magrum, a three-time academic All-American, and sophomore Drew Stone.
“We did this at Perrysburg a couple years ago and we’ve done it at (Lakewood) St. Ed’s,” Ryan said. “Once a year we try to get off campus and take the show on the road, and it’s worked out really well. We went to (Millersburg) West Holmes and that was great. We try to find a place where there’s a student athlete who has done a great job for us. Cody Magrum has been such a staple for us and of what we want to stand for.”
Oak Harbor has sent seven wrestlers to Ohio State, including Greg Goad, Ferd Miller, Chad Miller, J.D. Bergman and Wes Bergman. The Rockets, coached by George Bergman, currently have seven wrestlers competing at the Division I college level.
“George has done such a great job there with his program,” Ryan said. “It was an easy choice this year to go to Oak Harbor. We feel fortunate they put the time and energy into helping us. We’re looking forward to coming up there.”
Bergman said he expects several fans from Monroeville to attend the Ohio State-Illinois match. The Buckeyes have three wrestlers from Monroeville, including 2012 NCAA champion Logan Stieber. Also on the roster is redshirt junior Josh Whitt from Clay, who transferred from Ohio University.
Bergman said he expects Oak Harbor’s gym, which seats 2,100, to be at full capacity on Feb. 1.
“We’re going to add another 100 seats,” he said. “It’s gonna be pretty doggone full. I’d imagine it would be sold out, especially with the Monroeville contingent and Cody coming back here.”
Bergman said he and Ryan discussed the Buckeyes coming to Oak Harbor during the Ohio State wrestling coaches’ clinic last year.
“He told me that before Cody was finished at Ohio State, he would have a match at Oak Harbor,” Bergman said. “They’re doing it on Cody’s behalf. They called Jim Heffernan, the head coach at Illinois, and he’s an Ohio boy and they agreed to to it. Realistically, this is a once-in-a lifetime experience for the Oak Harbor community and our high school. Everybody’s excited, including our administration.”
Bergman said the Oak Harbor school district will not receive any proceeds from the Big Ten match. He said Ohio State will furnish everything, from the announcers to the officials to the scales.
“Just for our community to go out and be able to witness two Big Ten teams that are in the top five or six in the country, it’s a once-in-a lifetime deal,” Bergman said. “I’m excited for Cody and his family. Cody is one of the hardest workers we’ve ever had come out of our program. As good an athlete as he is, he’s an even better person.”
Magrum, a three-time NCAA Tournament qualifier (he qualified last spring but did not compete due to an ACL injury), will make the jump from 184 pounds to 197 this season. He is a three-time team captain and enters this season with a 67-39 career record.
The three-time Ohio high school state champion (2006-08) said he can’t wait to wrestle in his hometown in front of his friends and family, including his mother and father, Sheri and Gene.
“I have thought about it,” Magrum said. “It’s crazy. I can’t believe the plans went through, and I’m super excited to get that home crowd and home atmosphere. Most kids don’t get this opportunity after high school to compete, so it’s a big deal for me and the other kids from northwest Ohio. It will definitely be huge and it will be a big turnout. Everybody is excited to see me come home and wrestle where I came from.”
Ryan, who has coached three individual national champions at Ohio State, said he will bring 10 wrestlers from Columbus to compete against Illinois. Heffernan, in his fourth year as the Illini’s coach, won two state titles at Lakewood St. Edward and then became a four-time All-American at Iowa.
Magrum will likely face redshirt junior Mario Gonzalez in the match at Oak Harbor. Gonzalez is the reigning Big Ten champ at 197 pounds, but Magrum said he isn’t worried.
“I’m at a point in my career where I prepare and get ready for every match the same,” he said. “You don’t wrestle anybody bad in college. I’ll just treat it like another match. Hopefully, the atmosphere will help me out a lot. I’ll get a lot of support and that will help get me through the match.”