Ohio Sends Record Six Wrestlers To NCAA Tournament

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The moment all of college wrestling has been waiting for finally arrived on Wednesday as the NCAA released weight class brackets for 2014 NCAA Championships in Oklahoma City. With the announcement, Ohio wrestling’s five automatic qualifiers now know their first round opponents. The Bobcats also found out they will be sending another grappler west.

Ohio’s 149-pounder Tywan Claxton received one of the 40 at-large bids awarded by the selection committee. He will be one of six Bobcat wrestlers to compete in this year’s national tournament and by doing he breaks the program’s previous record of five, which was set last season.

Claxton was just a win away from securing an automatic bid at the Mid-American Conference tournament on Sunday, but showed throughout the season he deserved to land at-large bid. His victory over No. 1 Drake Houdashelt – the only loss of the Missouri grappler’s season – coupled with a 26-7 solidified Claxton’s resume.

Claxton is unseeded and will face No. 4 Kendric Maple of Oklahoma in the first round. Maple is a tough draw, as he took the national title at 141 last year.

Three Ohio wrestlers claimed top-10 seeds. Cody Walters, 174, and Phil Wellington, 197, are the highest slotted Bobcats. They grabbed the eighth seeds in their respective weight classes. Ohio heavyweight Jeremy Johnson is slotted 10th.

All three will face familiar foes in the first round.

Walters matches up with Northern Iowa’s Cody Caldwell. Ohio’s returning All-American beat the Panthers’ 174-pounder earlier in the year in a 7-1 decision.

Wellington faces James Fox of Harvard for the second time in the national tournament’s opening round. Last year in Des Moines, Iowa, Ohio’s 197-pounder dropped Fox in a 9-4 decision.

Johnson is slotted against American’s Blake Herrin. Last year Johnson defeated his upcoming opponent at the Southern Scuffle.

Harrison Hightower, 165, also matches up with a familiar opponent in No. 14 Dylan Palacio of Cornell. Hightower seeks revenge after losing a 7-3 decision to the Big Red grappler at the Scuffle.

Like Claxton, Sparty Chino, 157, is the only other Bobcat to take on a new opponent. He drew No. 9 Dylan Ness of Minnesota, who has claimed All-American honors the past two seasons and was the runner up at 149 in 2012.  

The national tournament begins March 20, in Chesapeake Energy Arena. The three-day event concludes with the finals broadcasted on ESPN.