Following a dominant 30-12 victory at Maryland on Jan. 22, the No. 4 Ohio State wrestling team will take on No. 3 Iowa on the road this week and top-ranked Penn State at home next week.
The absence of junior Kyle Snyder, the returning national champion at heavyweight, this week could spell trouble for OSU late in the dual. He is currently representing the United States in the Ivan Yarygin Memorial Grand Prix in Krasnoyarsk, Russia.
“There are no better opportunities in our schedule than these opportunities to really learn a lot about where we are,” OSU coach Tom Ryan said. “You’ve got a great team in Iowa, in an away venue, and then you’ve got another opportunity at home, in front of the home crowd, to wrestle (against Penn State).”
The matchup against Iowa will feature a plethora of marquee matchups, including fifth-ranked 149-pounder Micah Jordan (OSU) against second-ranked Brandon Sorensen (Iowa), tenth-ranked 184-pounder Myles Martin (OSU) against fifth-ranked Sammy Brooks (Iowa) and first-ranked 133-pounder Nathan Tomasello (OSU) against fourth-ranked Cory Clark (Iowa).
Micah Jordan missed last week’s action against Maryland due to illness, along with his brother — 174-pounder Bo Jordan — and 125-pounder Jose Rodriguez.
“I haven’t wrestled anyone (ranked) at one or two yet,” Micah Jordan said. “The next two weeks I have No. 2 and then No. 1, so I’m really excited to see where I’m at.”
In addition to the tough team matchups, many of the wrestlers will face their most talented opponents yet.
“We’ve wrestled some tough teams, but I’m just really looking forward to these next couple of matches,” Martin said. “Especially for me, a lot of the guys I have are top five in the country.”
Over the next four matchups, all of Martin’s projected opponents are ranked in the top 13, including No. 5 Sammy Brooks (Iowa) and No. 2 Bo Nickal (Penn State).
Bo Jordan did not compete against Maryland, but could have wrestled if needed. Ryan held him out in order to give him another week to recover from injury, and prepare for the tough task ahead.
“If we needed him to step in there to win the dual, we could’ve wrestled him,” Ryan said. “But, logically, it made no sense to risk further injury when you’ve got Iowa coming up next weekend.”
The Buckeyes look to be in good health, as the only starter expected to be out is Snyder in the heavyweight division.
“Kyle (Snyder) gives you a sense that, of the 10 weights, we’re getting bonus points in this weight, so we’re going to need for (redshirt senior heavyweight) Josh Fox to really step up,” Ryan said. “There’s much less room for error, so it’s just compete to the best of your ability.”
The match will start at 8 p.m. on Friday in the Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.