Shelby Lum / Lantern photographer
The No. 5 Ohio State wrestling team is trying to bounce back after losing its regular season finale against No. 1 Penn State, 29-18, as it heads into the 2013 NWCA/Cliff Keen “Mat Mayhem” National Duals.
The Buckeyes, which received an automatic bid to the event’s finals because they are among the top four returning dual-meet teams, finished the regular season 11-3 and 5-3 in the Big Ten.
The automatic bid finalists were awarded based on their performance and rankings from the 2011-2012 season.
OSU sophomore Hunter Stieber, ranked No. 2 in the 141-pound weight class, said that he likes the team’s chances in the postseason.
“I feel pretty good,” he said. “Team-wise, I think we’ll be all right. We bounce back pretty well. We’re an older team so it should be good.”
The Division I National Duals will feature a new format this year with eight teams in the finals instead of the traditional four. The addition of four automatic bid finalists increases the initial pool of competitors from 16 to 20. The teams that did not receive automatic bids are divided up into four different regions:
Cornell University Region: Cornell, Hofstra, Virginia, Nebraska
Kent State University Region: Kent State, Oklahoma State, Northern Iowa, Wisconsin
Oregon State University Region: Oregon State, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Michigan
University of Missouri Region: Missouri, Maryland, Wyoming, Purdue
The automatic bid finalists are Ohio State, Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois.
Each region will host a one-day competition Sunday. The winners will move on to join the four automatic bid teams at the University of Minnesota for the finals on Feb. 22-23 in Minneapolis.
Sophomore 149-pounder Cam Tessari said he is looking to pick up where he left off coming off a big 3-1 win against then-No. 7-ranked sophomore Andrew Alton of Penn State.
“I’m excited for it (the National Duals),” he said. “I was a little rocky at the beginning of the season but I think I’m starting to hit my stride.”
OSU coach Tom Ryan said there are a few kinks the team needs to work out between now and the tournament, but he has high hopes.
“I feel great about this team,” he said. “Up and down the lineup we have good guys. We have to fight a little harder, but we’re going to be ready to go.”
Last year, OSU failed to make the finals of the National Duals when it lost to Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla. This year, they’ll look to avenge that loss.
The Buckeyes’ first match is set to start at 6 p.m. on Feb. 22 at Williams Arena in Minneapolis, Minn. The finals will conclude Feb. 23.