After taking down then-No. 9 Virginia on the road with a convincing 30-7 victory, Ohio State wrestling is set to take its 4-1 record to Las Vegas.
The seventh-ranked Buckeyes are set to compete in the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Collegiate Wrestling Invitational on Friday and Saturday at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
There are 39 teams competing in the competition from across the country and 11 of them are ranked in the top-25 of the USA Today/National Wrestling Coaches Association poll.
OSU will likely be competing with heavy hearts after the death of former teammate Kosta Karageorge, whose body was found near campus Sunday afternoon after he was reported missing last Wednesday.
In an email to The Lantern, coach Tom Ryan said the team is dealing with Karageorge’s passing emotionally and it still needs time for healing.
But Ryan said despite the tragedy, the team will keep a solid attitude and learn a lot about its make up in Las Vegas.
“We will be challenged by several schools. Minnesota has a full lineup and will be our biggest challenge,” Ryan said. “Most importantly are the individual matchups that occur. We will face many tough opponents at various weight classes that will be a great barometer for us. Plenty to be learned out here.”
Minnesota (5-0) is ranked No. 2 and boasts top-20 wrestlers in eight of 10 weight classes, including top-ranked 197-pound competitor Scott Schiller, a senior from West Fargo, N.D.
The Buckeyes are confident they can still compete at a high level even with their minds on things outside the sport. Freshman Kyle Snyder said the team did a great job of pulling off its road victory against Virginia after a tough loss to Virginia Tech on Nov. 23.
“I was really impressed with how quickly the guys on the team were able to put the (Virginia Tech) loss behind and focus on competing against Virginia,” Snyder said in an email. “Sometimes it’s hard bouncing back from a loss or wrestling after you’re frustrated with a previous performance.”
Snyder continued his impressive freshman season with a 20-6 victory against Virginia’s freshman Chance McClure to improve to 8-0. At 197 pounds, Snyder could face the toughest test of the young season against Schiller if the seeding allows for the matchup.
Ryan said Snyder is one of the most committed student-athletes he’s ever coached and his attitude is “contagious” and rubs off on the others.
“He is relentless in all that he does with a deep-rooted passion to be his very best,” he said. “It’s a pleasure to be around people that take pride in being prepared every day for any challenge.”
Three-time national champion Logan Stieber will be competing for the Buckeyes at 141 pounds. Stieber improved his career record to 95-3 after pinning 9th-ranked Joe Spisak in Charlottesville, Va.
Big Ten opponents Indiana and Michigan will also be competing this weekend. Ryan said each chance at facing top competition gives OSU an opportunity to grow as a team.
“The college wrestling season is a marathon,” Ryan said. “It’s early still. As the season progresses every match is a chance to sharpen each athlete.”
Start times for the invitational have yet to be announced.