Daniel Zaas / Lantern photographer
The Ohio State wrestling team went into the weekend looking to salvage the remainder of its season and upset No. 19 Illinois and No. 4 Minnesota.
It failed on all counts.
The Buckeyes fell to the Fighting Illini, 21-12, on Friday. After the loss, the team boarded a bus back to Columbus to get ready for its dual with Minnesota. In that dual, the Buckeyes fell, 31-9.
“There is just too many tough people in this sport to not be prepared to walk on the mat,” OSU coach Tom Ryan said. “They’re young people and they’re learning, and sometimes you have to hurt real bad to learn, and hopefully that one stings.”
After Friday’s loss at Illinois, the Buckeyes did not arrive in the Columbus until about 4 a.m. Saturday. But they were already in the gym at 2 p.m., preparing for the Golden Gophers.
Redshirt sophomore captain C.J. Magrum, 184 pounds, said it was difficult to come back on such little sleep, trying to maintain weight and get prepared for a second dual in less than 24 hours.
“We got in at 4 (a.m.), and it was hard to go to sleep for some reason,” Magrum said. “Plus the fact we had to keep our weight down before the match, that was the worst part. You know guys were coming in to practice today at 2 (p.m.) with not a lot of sleep. Plus you’re cutting five pounds before your match.”
Magrum faced two tough opponents last weekend. On Friday, he defeated Illinois redshirt freshman Tony Dallago, 3-1, but lost to Minnesota redshirt freshman Kevin Steinhaus, who is ranked No. 8 in the 184-pound weight class.
Some matches that night ended controversially.
During the 149-pound match between OSU redshirt freshman Mike Fee and Minnesota redshirt freshman Danny Zilverberg, Fee appeared to injure his right knee, and yelled in pain. The late stop by the referees for the injury time allowed for Zilverberg to score two points on a reversal.
Ryan was upset with the referees and heckled them from the bench. After he shouted his complaints, the referees gave him a warning. Ryan approached the referees during a break after the match to discuss what happened.
Ryan said after the match he might have gone too far. But, while Ryan said Fee should have been protecting his own health and knee, the referees did not make matters better.
“I went a little crazier than I needed to,” Ryan said. “Our guys got to protect his knee better when he feels it happening. It’s your job to protect it; it’s the official’s job to protect it. We didn’t do it. It just adds to the entire frustration and poor preparation of the group.”
Senior captain Colt Sponseller, 165 pounds, won both of his matches, defeating Illinois sophomore Conrad Polz, 3-2, and Minnesota redshirt sophomore Cody Yohn, who is the 11th-ranked wrestler at 165 pounds. Sponseller, the No. 7-ranked wrestler at 165 pounds, improved to 17-3 and notched his sixth straight victory.
“Well I think Colt Sponseller, he’s in the same group, the same workouts; he never steps backwards,” Ryan said. “He’s always a positive here; he’s always been. It’s the way he represents us. It’s the way he prepares for competition.”
Sophomore captain Ian Paddock suffered an injury Friday night against Illinois junior Bernard Futrell in his 16-6 major decision loss.
In his place, redshirt freshman Jacob Vaughan made his first-ever varsity start for the Buckeyes on Saturday. Vaughan faced a tough challenge and started strong, leading 5-4 after the first period. However, his opponent, Minnesota redshirt freshman David Thorn, took the match, 19-11.
Vaughan, though disappointed with his loss, was excited to get the start. He said he had found out he would get the start Saturday because if he had known Friday, he would not have been able to sleep.
“I was so excited to wrestle today, and nervous,” Vaughan said. “Once I realized I wasn’t going to throw up, I started relaxing a little bit.”
Vaughan will get the next two starts at 133 pounds, as Paddock will miss the remainder of the regular season with an injury.
Redshirt freshman Peter Capone, 197 pounds, had the highlight of Saturday’s dual, pinning Minnesota redshirt senior Joe Nord at 2:30 in the first period.
The Buckeyes will head to Madison, Wis., to take on the No. 3 Badgers at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Ryan said the goal for his team for the rest of the season is one thing: “Fight.”