B1G Wrestling Championship Recap

wrestlingAfter day 1 of the B1G Wrestling Championships the Buckeyes sit in 4th place. Now to many of you that might sound like so what, but in wrestling, the B1G is what the equivalent of the “mirage” of SEC football is, except this is actually real and you’d have to put the SEC football mirage on super steroids to even match it. I will save my argument to the end, but if you love Ohio State sports, do me the honor of reading it. But let me put this in perspective. For a “down” year, 4th in the B1G is like the football team beating LSU by 20 in the Capital One Bowl.

Day 1 was delicious. Logan Stieber continued his march with decisive wins including a 9-0 sacking of third seed Chris Dardanes of No. 1 Minnesota. Now he goes to the finals to face Zain Retherford, undefeated from PSU and the only person to beat 2 time national champ Logan in over 2 years. It’s on BTN at 2 EDT. It’s an epic match so don’t miss it.

Buckeye senior Nick Heflin electrified the crowd with a dramatic takedown to oust former No. 1 Scott Schiller. Nick now joins Logan in tomorrow’s finals. Nick Heflin is simply a man on a mission. The National
Champ at 197 will come from the B1G. Nick is a guy who lifts with the football linebackers (as Coach Ryan jokes, “he doesn’t lift with guys who think they’re strong, like the wrestlers. He lifts with the guys who really are strong”). Nick is a guy you can’t help but root for.

The Buckeyes have six other wrestlers going for places, including Johnni DiJulius, Nick Roberts and Kenny Courts who all could battle for as high as third. Coach Ryan expressed pride in the way each performed. They lost tough quarterfinal matches to highly ranked opponents and then came back with two impressive wins each. It is clear all three came to wrestle, especially young Nick Roberts (they’re all young) who escaped a match ending takedown to walk away with his second wrestle back win.

Coach Ryan saved special praise for three individuals: “I cannot tell you how proud I am of Joe Grandominico and Randy Languis. The way Joe kept shooting when he was down.” Capturing a little Rudy flavor he added, “if I could get some of my best wrestlers to attack like that…” And the obvious was left hanging.

Randy Languis seemed to be the victim of poor clock keeping and bad referee review. To make a long story short, he lost to highly regarded Dylan Alton of PSU by a mere 1 SECOND of riding time that appeared falsely earned. Randy then went on to win an exhibition that, coupled with the strong showing against Alton, will hopefully earn him an at-large birth in the NCAA tourney.

Coach Ryan saved his most emphatic praise for heavy Nick Tavanello of Wadsworth. Nick has wrestled gamely all year. In CBus he took number 2 ranked Adam Coon of Michigan to overtime before losing in sudden death. Facing now No. 1 seed Coon in the B1G, Nick hit a late takedown on a dramatic and definitive slam to get the upset. The arena erupted. Beaming, Coach Ryan said, “Nick grew up today. He is learning how to beat really tough guys.” Which in the B1G is saying more than most of us know. Nick also has locked up an NCAA tourney bid (the Buckeyes have 7 for sure and will wait on Paddock and Languis as at-larges ).

Ian Paddock will wrestle for 7th (as will Mark Martin and Tavanello) but because his weight only got 6 bids, he will have to await a possible at-large.

On the whole, a Buckeye fan could only leave Kohl Arena elated.

So here is my thing. No one could be a bigger Ohio State football fan than me. At least no one reasonably attached to reality. As for BB, I have had OSU BB tix for a long time and loved it. Then I had Golden State Warrior season tix for years and there is nothing like Oaktown for excitement. As much as I love both, neither matches the drama and sheer adrenaline for wrestling. It’s like bungee jumping for fans. It might take a little investment of time to completely understand, but if you love FB. If you love boxing. If you love MMA. Give wrestling a chance and you will have enriched your sporting life in a way you cannot now know.

Ohio State will contend for a National Title next year. As many as 3 could be favored for National titles and 5 or 6 could compete for the same. Do yourself a favor. This is a fun bandwagon at your doorstep. Jump on.

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