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Coach Tom Ryan grapples with Ohio State wrestling’s inconsistent play

Cody Cousino / Photo editor

Ohio State wrestling coach Tom Ryan has seen it all this season.

He’s seen the ups and downs, the highs and the lows.

He’s seen them topple national power and Big Ten juggernaut Iowa in front of an electric home crowd of almost 6,000.

But what he hasn’t seen concerns him.

And what he hasn’t seen is consistency.

“The law of inconsistency is in effect for us right now,” Ryan said.

After having what some have called the biggest dual win in OSU wrestling history against Iowa, the Buckeyes traveled to Penn State this past Sunday and were beat handedly, 34-9, by the defending national champions.

He said that while nerves and wrestling without starters redshirt junior C.J. Magrum and freshman Cam Tessari in the lineup didn’t help the Buckeyes’ cause, he didn’t sugarcoat the reality of it.

Part of adjusting to higher expectations, he said, is being excellent on a regular basis — the difference between doing something once versus 15 times.

“If you did it once, then why wouldn’t we reasonably think you could do it again?” Ryan said. “Not only did we not do it again, we were unemotional, there was a lack of passion. Passion is easy to spot, no matter what you do in your life. And there was none of it to be found at Penn State.”

Redshirt sophomore Nick Heflin said a lot of the excitement from beating Iowa was cut down after the loss in State College.

“We obviously got to get better. We had a huge up and then a huge down,” he said.

The going doesn’t get any easier, either. OSU faces its rival, No. 8 Michigan, 6 p.m. Friday night at St. John Arena.

Luckily, Ryan said, if the roller coaster-like season they’re having is any indication, then Michigan should be a high note for the Buckeyes since beating Iowa followed shortly after back-to-back losses on the road against Nebraska and Minnesota.

“I think the one thing, that is an absolute, is they’re prepared. I really feel they’re physically prepared. The question is, you know, where are you emotionally, mentally,” Ryan said. “It’s just a matter of getting the mind set.”

Redshirt freshman Logan Stieber said one loss doesn’t shake the team’s confidence.

“We’re so young that we don’t know better, and if we lose one, we still think we’re the best, we still think that we can win,” Stieber said.

His younger brother, freshman Hunter Stieber, said the team was trying to keep the mood in practice similar to how it was the week of the Iowa dual.

“All week we were hyped up for it, we were all ready for it, we were excited for it,” he said.

For Ryan, he sees this dual as an opportunity for his team to get some of the most favorable matchups they’ve had all season, including Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa and Penn State.

“If both teams wrestle to their potential, we should win the dual meet,” he said.

With such a young team, though, Ryan said getting them on the right track has a lot to do with showing them the difference between what it took to win in high school versus what it takes at the collegiate level, especially in the Big Ten.

“It’s getting them to realize that this is tremendously competitive and it’s going to take a lot of hard work,” he said.

Like the need for consistency, it’s just one of the many things Ryan is trying to teach his team.

Tessari echoed his coach’s thoughts.

“We can’t be good one weekend, be bad the next. We have to consistently be performing at our best,” he said.

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