Huffman, Lovell Key Beavers' Comeback

Jan. 31, 2003

Corvallis, Ore. - A pin by 174-pounder Jake Huffman turned the momentum and a win by 197-pounder Jason Lovell sealed the deal as Oregon State beat No. 9 Arizona State 18-16 Friday night in Pacific-10 wrestling at Gill Coliseum. A vocal crowd of 1,054 saw Huffman come from behind for a buzzer-beating pin, then roared as Lovell won a dual meet for the second time this season by winning the final match.

OSU (8-7 overall, 6-1 Pacific-10) now has a chance to cap a huge weekend, meeting No. 19 Boise State on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Gill Coliseum.

'This is a great win with the number of young kids we have,' OSU head coach Joe Wells said. 'I like the way we're wrestling, the way we're going after it. Our seniors were ready to make a statement, and they did tonight. Now we've got to come out and see if we can do the same thing Saturday.'

The Beavers beat a nationally-ranked team for the first time since Jan. 20, 2001, when they throttled an 11th-ranked Boise State squad 25-10 for Wells' 100th career win at OSU. Earlier this month, the Beavers had taken nationally-ranked squads from Wisconsin and Central Michigan to the final match before losing non-league duals, and they performed respectably at No. 1 Oklahoma State and No. 3 Oklahoma last weekend.

'That's exactly what we talked about before the meet - how close we'd been against Central Michigan, how close we'd been against Wisconsin,' Wells said. 'They're good, but let's not leave anything out there and let's have our seniors set the tone.'

Huffman and Lovell, two of those seniors, did just that.

'That's a huge confidence builder for us,' Huffman said. 'It's about time all our hard work paid off.'

Added Lovell: 'This is the biggest win we've had in a long, long time.'

The Beavers trailed 16-6 heading into Huffman's 174-pound match against Curtis Owen, ranked 13th in the country by Amateur Wrestling News. Huffman found himself down 7-2 early in the second period, but managed an escape and a takedown.

'There's no question we needed something to happen,' Wells said. 'Huff was in a close match, but the other kid looked like he was getting tired. Huff saw something that might work, and he just went for it.'

Huffman took Owen to his back with a few seconds remaining in the period. He finished the pin with one second on the clock, recording the fall in 4 minutes, 59 seconds.

'That's really important for the Pac-10 meet,' said Huffman, who figured to improve his seeding with a win over the conference's No. 1-ranked wrestler. 'Now I've just got to win the rest.'

Huffman has now won 9 of his last 10 matches and 13 of his last 16. On OSU's bench, Lovell could feel the shift as OSU drew within 16-12.

'The momentum changed when Jake did that,' Lovell said. 'He got us excited, and he got the crowd excited.'

Next up was Jed Pennell, and the erstwhile 165-pounder kept his amazing string going at 184 pounds. Stepping up two weight classes for the third straight dual meet, Pennell kept his record unbeaten at that weight with a 7-0 win over ASU's Ron Renzi; he took control of the match with a takedown and two-point near-fall late in the first period and didn't allow Renzi back in the match.

'Jed is just so dominant in terms of keeping pressure on people,' Wells said. 'And now (at 184), he's got that lower stance, and the other guy can't get in on his legs.'

That brought up Lovell and the Sun Devils' Ryan Bader at 197 pounds. Lovell was looking for a little payback, having lost to Bader 8-1 in the second round of wrestlebacks at the Las Vegas Invitational in early December.

'I wanted revenge bad, and the meet came down to me,' Lovell said. 'I knew I had to come out and get after it.'

Two weeks ago, Lovell had clinched OSU's 22-16 win over California-Davis at Gill with a major decision in the meet's final match.

'Against UC-Davis, I was nervous,' Lovell said. 'Tonight, I just thought I had nothing to lose.'

Lovell scored a takedown in the first minute of the match and rode Bader the rest of the period. After Bader chose a neutral position to start the second period, Huffman scored another takedown but Bader answered with a reversal and it was 4-2 going into the final period.

Huffman chose the down position, and Bader opted to try for back points rather than cutting Lovell loose and going after a takedown. He was warned twice for stalling, putting Lovell up 5-2 and an escape made it 6-2 with 13 seconds left; Bader got a late takedown and Lovell earned a point for riding time for a 7-4 final.

The night's only matchup of nationally-ranked wrestlers came in the first match, as fourth-ranked Arizona State heavyweight Kellan Fluckiger edged OSU's 11th-ranked Andy Bowlby 2-1 to end Bowlby's 11-match win streak. After two scoreless periods, Fluckiger took the down position to start the third and scored a reversal with 1:20 remaining; Bowlby got his escape with 17 seconds left but couldn't come up with the winning takedown.

At 125 pounds, OSU's Michael Delaney snapped a five-match losing streak with a 5-1 win over Adam Chavira. At 157, Oregon State's Jeremy Larson came back from an injury to wrestle for the first time since Jan. 4, taking a 7-5 win over Mike Smith.


(Current Amateur Wrestling News national rankings in parentheses)

HWT-(4) Kellan Fluckiger, ASU, dec. (11) Andy Bowlby, OSU, 2-1. 125-Michael Delaney, OSU, dec. Adam Chavira, ASU, 5-1. 133-(10) Mike Simpson, ASU, dec. Tim Norman, OSU, 7-5. 141-(6) Dana Holland, ASU, dec. Mike Unger Jr., OSU, 2-1. 149-(1) Eric Larkin, ASU, major dec. Tony Hook, OSU, 12-1. 157-Jeremy Larson, OSU, dec. Mike Smith, ASU, 7-5. 165-(14) Nick Frost, ASU, dec. Matt Ellis, OSU, 10-6. 174-Jake Huffman, OSU, pinned (13) Curtis Owen, ASU, 4:59. 184-Jed Pennell, OSU, dec. Ron Renzi, ASU, 7-0. 197-Jason Lovell, OSU, dec. Ryan Bader, ASU, 7-4.

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