After the completion of the quarter final round of the Big Ten Wrestling Tournament, the Ohio State Buckeye results show good news and bad news. The bad is they find themselves in second place. The good news is they lead fifth place Michigan by 21.
Oh, and they only trail Penn State’s 70 points by 2.
You could say the Buckeyes did only as expected, in that everyone who was supposed to win won and everyone who was targeted to lose lost. And the pessimist could note that a few heavy favorites eked out narrow wins.
But a win means moving on. At this point, every Buckeye is still in the tournament. Seven are headed for the semi-finals. In a world where upsets are common, doing as expected with a big number like seven wrestlers is a pretty good result.
First, the Buckeye one seeds. Two of them had those tight matches. At 133 Nathan Tomasello seemed pretty much in control despite the 6-4 score. Still, with riding time well in hand, he was only a takedown from being dragged into overtime. Tonight he faces five seed Stevan Micic. The two went to the wire in their only meeting this season.
Bo Jordan also walked away with a mere two point win over eighth seed Devin Skatzka of the hometown Hoosiers. And just as with Tomasello he faces a Michigan wrestler, four seed Myles Amine.
Trendsetter that he is, Kyle Snyder wracked up 26 points in a tech fall win against Rutgers’ Razohnn Gross of Rutgers at 285. Snyder will face Michael Kroells of Minnesota in the semifinals.
Luke Pletcher came into the tournament as a five seed at 141. It is widely understood now that Pletcher pulled off a freshman redshirt to fill in for injured Ke-Shawn Hayes, UP A WEIGHT CLASS. After picking up an opening default win he faced four seed Colton McCrystal of Nebraska. Although Luke trailed by one late in the match, he really seemed in control. After he hit the winner to the chants of “Luuuke” he coolly held off a heated flurry by McCrystal. Pletcher will face one seed, junior Anthony Ashnault of Rutgers in the semis.
Perhaps the second Buckeye match of the night will be at 149. Three seed Micah Jordan pits his 27-2 record against the 24-3 offering of two seed, Iowan Brandon Sorenson. The two battled to the end in January. Sorenson walked away a 2-0 winner.
After dominating Carson Brolsma of Minnesota in the opener, Jordan was pushed in a 3-1 win by six seed Andrew Crone of Wisconsin.
Myles Martin returns up a weight class at 184 after winning a national title in 2016. A third period takedown and back points paved the way for a comfortable 12-7 win over talented TJ Dudley of Nebraska. Earlier four seed Martin dominated Shwan Shadaia of Michigan State.
The potentially great Jordan/Sorenson match is the second most anticipated Buckeye match up for tonight only because Martin now goes against Bo Nickal of Penn State. Last year at 174, the punishing Nickal stunned Martin the B1G semis with a dramatic pin.
Two weeks later it was Martin who did the stunning. With a brilliant roll to counter a throw by Nickal, Martin won a thrilling 174 pound NCAA championship bout two weeks later in Madison Square Garden.
Earlier this year, Martin and Nickal wrestled entertainingly until Nickal pulled away later in the match. Last year Martin decided to meet Nickal’s fire with his own in the NCAA. Look for more of the same tonight.
Opponents are learning Buckeye freshman Kollin Moore isn’t caught until he is–which is rare. Just ask Olympic bronze medalist J’Den Cox of Missouri. After Moore escaped several sure takedowns in the match in December, Cox escaped St. John arena with a two point win.
Seventh seed Cash Wilcke of Iowa was the latest to learn that after being frustrated and then battered by the two seed Moore in the quarterfinals. Moore had earlier won by tech fall over Hoosier Jacob Hinz. Tonight Moore once again ties up with third seed Aaron Studebaker of Nebraska. Moore won 3-2 in February.
The fun does not stop with Ohio State’s semifinalists. In a bizarre looking, but perfectly understandable scene, 157 pound Jake Ryan went to the center of the mat to face six seed Brian Murphy of Michigan. The two shook hands and the whistle blew to commence. Ryan then stepped back and directed the referee to talk to the Ohio State coaches. The ref was informed Ryan would injury default.
Ryan has been hurt. His coaches want him to qualify for the NCAA simply want but to also limit his exposure to more injury. He can wrestle, but with a whopping nine NCAA spots for the B1G at 157, the necessary winning could take place on the back end. So far Ryan has obliged by winning his first wrestleback with a fall over Ben Sullivan of Northwestern.
If Ryan wins is next match, he is in. If he loses, he will have to win an additional, off the books so to speak mini-tournament between the four losing wrestlers of the next consolation round. The purposes would be two–fold, a) claim that ninth spot or b) improve their standing for an at large berth to the NCAA.
Interestingly, Ryan faces fifth seed Kyle Langenderfer of Illinois. Without casting judgment whatsoever on the young man, Ohio State fans might recall their somewhat annoyed reaction at the 2015 B1G Championships at Ohio State. Langenderfer held his arms aloft in celebration after narrowly beating Hunter Stieber at 149.
Stieber had won the admiration of the wrestling world that weekend as he wrestled with no functioning arm. With both elbows damaged beyond stabilization, Stieber could not grab and had to curl and roll to the mat without arms for support. The crowd was a little put off by Langenderfer’s show of celebration, understandable as it must have been from his point of view.
Jose Rodriguez started with a 5-3 win over Logan Griffin of MSU. However, he was dominated by one seed Thomas Gilman, and was eventually pinned. Rodriguez will face 10-15 Michael Beck of Maryland in is first consolation bout.
Finally, the always game Cody Burcher, the pride of Gnadenhutten, Ohio (a point I always announce with pride–my dad was a successful basketball coach at Gnadenhutten) eventually gave way to six seed Nick Wanzek of Minnesota. Cody then went on to crush Dyla Lydy of Purdue in his first consolation match.
Ohio State has a history of dramatic movement in the night time sessions of the B1G. Given the success of the day, another such run could make for a surprisingly fun final day.