Despite seeing an early exit at the National Duals in Iowa City over the weekend, the Ohio State wrestling team might have discovered the future of its program.
Freshman Kyle Snyder and redshirt-freshmen Bo Jordan and Nathan Tomasello are ranked No. 3, No. 5 and No. 7, respectively, in their weight classes, and have been a staple in the team’s success. All three were named co-captains along with redshirt-senior Logan Stieber, even though they are wrestling in their first competitive year at OSU.
Tomasello said he is grateful for the opportunity to help lead the team toward its goals.
“Getting voted as captains was very humbling, I feel we have done a good job of being supportive, helping the team improve each week and have come together to make a run at a title at the end of the year,” the redshirt-freshman said. “We’ve learned a lot and the coaches have gotten us prepared and it’s been a great experience so far.”
Jordan (16-0), a redshirt-freshman, has been called upon to not only win his 165-pound matches, but to do so by getting bonus points to increase the team’s chances of winning. Jordan said he doesn’t focus on the extra points as much as the coaches do, but added he wants to do whatever he can to help the team win.
“I’m not really thinking about getting the extra points, but if I go out and wrestle to the best of my ability and stay where I’m good at, I know I can throw up a lot of points and I’ll see what happens from there,” Jordan said.
Throughout the season, Jordan has been known to hit a point in his matches where a whole new level of intensity is shown. He said he can feel when it’s time for that to turn on.
“There’s a point in every match where my lungs feel like they are on fire, and when I start to feel tired and things are starting to get tough. I know my opponent is feeling the same thing, so I know it’s time to click and throw it into the next gear,” Jordan said.
Jordan also credited Tomasello (24-4) when it comes to being motivated to go out and give it his all.
“(He’s) the guy who starts the fire in everyone at the beginning of each match,” Jordan said.
“I don’t think there is anyone else in the nation that I would rather have starting off our matches at 125 pounds besides Nathan Tomasello,” Jordan said. “He gets after it for seven minutes and he gets the team fired up.”
As for starting out first each night, the 125 pounder said he wouldn’t want it any other way.
“I want to be first on the mat every time,” Tomasello said. “I want to bring the intensity and go at it for the full seven minutes and then I get the rest of the dual to cheer on my teammates.”
Snyder (24-2), a favorite to win the Big Ten Championship in two weeks, credited his co-captains and teammates for keeping him focused.
“It helps when everyone is doing their part, and when you have Nate and Bo who are both freaks in the sport of wrestling, it helps in preparing for big matches,” Snyder said. “Nate always gets the ball rolling when he starts the match, and it gets our heads in the right direction, and when Bo goes out and gets bonus points, it motivates me to do the same.”
Snyder said preparation has taken its course and now it’s about proving who’s the best in the sport.
“This is the time in the season where you have to just go out and win matches,” he said. “It’s fun just competing and practicing to get better, but now it’s all about getting your hand raised.”
OSU had everything going for it, including victories in nine straight dual meets. All of that came to an end when the No. 3 Buckeyes were upset by the No. 11 Lehigh Mountain Hawks, 21-18, on Saturday.
The Buckeyes managed just four victories over the Mountain Hawks.
The trio of freshmen continued to put up big numbers in their individual matches and their efforts haven’t gone unnoticed, coach Tom Ryan said.
“We have four bright spots right now, and three of them are freshmen,” Ryan said. “Other guys are going to have to figure out who and what they want to be in this sport in the next two weeks.”
The Buckeyes are set to host the Big Ten Championships March 7-8 at St. John Arena, and as long as they follow Stieber’s and the coaches’ lead, they should be successful, Jordan said.
“Logan’s leading the way so we just have to follow him and listen to the coaches and go out and wrestle our best,” Jordan said. “We have what it takes to win it all and it’s time to go out and prove it.”