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Ohio Freshmen Jeremy Johnson wins the fight against nationally ranked Central Michigan junior Jarold Trice on Friday, February 4, 2011. The Ohio Bobcats Wrestling Team defeated the Central Michigan Chippewas 21-19.

High expectations set 'Cats for season

A new year can either mean a fresh start or a chance to continue the success you had the previous year.

Ohio is fortunate enough to be in the latter group, with five returning NCAA qualifiers, including two All-Americans, and it’s a big reason why it’s been voted No. 1 in the preseason Mid-American Conference polls.

“It’s definitely exciting,” Ohio coach Joel Greenlee said. “There’s a little bit of buzz about Ohio wrestling. We really have a lot of expectations for a lot of different guys.”

The Bobcats will be led into the season by redshirt sophomore Cody Walters, who will look for a big year following an eighth place finish at the NCAA Championships last season. Walters claimed MAC freshman of the year after winning the 174-pound title in the MAC Tournament last season.

“Cody puts a lot of high expectations on himself,” Greenlee said. “And, in all honesty, we have high expectations for him as well. I think he’s a guy that can go to the national tournament and win the thing.”

The Bobcats should also get good leadership from heavyweight Jeremy Johnson. The senior is a three-time national qualifier and former All-American and is ranked No. 1 in the heavyweight class in this year’s MAC preseason polls.

“Jeremy’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever been around,” Greenlee said. “He’s driven to be great in everything he does, both with wrestling and academically. He’s a real vocal leader for us. All of our seniors really want to see us succeed as a team.”

Walters and Johnson aren’t the only Bobcats earning conference-wide attention in the preseason.

Sophomore Phil Wellington is ranked No. 1 in the conference in the 197-pound class. Junior Harrison Hightower is ranked second in the 165-pound class, while sophomores KeVon Powell and Spartak Chino are ranked third in the 125-pound and 157-pound weight classes, respectively.

It is this kind of talent that will benefit the Bobcats in their pursuit of a conference title in what is sure to be a very close race.

Defending MAC Champions Missouri will begin the season ranked third behind the Bobcats and newcomers Old Dominion, whom Greenlee called “the most balanced team out of anybody.” Northern Iowa and Kent State round out the top five in the polls.

The Bobcats will open their season Saturday in East Lansing, Mich., at the Michigan State Open.


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