Although the National Wrestling Coaches Association National Duals pair Big Ten teams with nonconference opponents, Ohio State drew a team that many Buckeyes fans might recognize from last season.
On Feb. 15, it was announced that Edinboro would be traveling to St. John Arena to meet the Scarlet and Gray. Edinboro just happens to be the same team OSU faced last season in the first round of the NWCA series.
OSU (10-3, 7-2) has nearly matched its record from last season, while Edinboro (8-9, 6-0) is looking to finish the season with an even win-loss total with its final dual meet on Saturday.
Last season, Edinboro shocked the collective wrestling world, placing third in the NCAA national championships with runner-up finishes at 141 and 149 pounds.
However, earlier in the 2014-15 season, the Buckeyes got the better of the Fighting Scots in the first round of the NWCA National Duals, winning 30-7.
“They are just a bunch of tough, hard-nosed guys from a really small town,” OSU coach Tom Ryan said. “We better be ready for them.”
With a lineup supporting four nationally ranked wrestlers, Edinboro presents an intriguing test for the Buckeyes, especially at the 184-pound weight class with redshirt senior Vic Avery, who is ranked fifth in the nation.
Even with some talented opponents ahead, the Scarlet and Gray are looking to capitalize on their last dual meet of the season with good, quality matches.
“They are pretty solid throughout the lineup even though they have some losses,” redshirt freshman Jake Ryan said. “We have some too though. No matter who it is, we still have to stay focused and just wrestle our matches.”
The Buckeyes have had success against Edinboro in the past, posting a 9-3 record all-time. In its last six dual meets, OSU has won the last five.
The match should give OSU some good practice moving forward and better prepare the team for the upcoming Big Ten and NCAA championships. The Fighting Scots present a good team to use as practice, given their high finish in the NCAA tournament last year.
Redshirt freshman Micah Jordan said he knows this meet is not a time to relax and take it easy before the championships portion of the schedule. He, like the rest of the Buckeyes, will be looking to improve in one last match before tournaments.
“On bottom I struggled a little bit, and I need to work on opening up a little bit more,” Jordan said. “I need to create some more energy, and just get to my attacks.”
The OSU coaching staff is doing all it can to ensure a strong showing against Edinboro, as well as put the best product it can on the mat in a month.
“This is probably the most intense time of the year from a training standpoint,” Tom Ryan said. “We still have another 20 days of really hard work ahead of us.”
The NWCA National Duals match is set for 7 p.m. on Monday at St. John Arena.
After battling nagging injuries throughout last season, and the beginning of this year, it seemed as though Hunter Stieber was finally ready to go this season in OSU’s previous match.
Unfortunately for the redshirt senior, in sudden fashion, Stieber’s leg was caught awkwardly on a takedown, and the two-time All-American had to be helped from the mat. After two knee surgeries, the grimace on Stieber’s face was a bitter pill to swallow.
Tom Ryan confirmed this week that Stieber is out for the upcoming match. However, the redshirt senior was seen walking under his own power in the training facility Wednesday, with a supportive sleeve on the injured knee.
“Hunter is out, so Cody (Burcher) will be in,” Tom Ryan said.
The redshirt freshman Burcher has posted a 10-6 record so far this season.
Big Ten championships around the corner
After Edinboro, OSU is set to be back in action March 5 and 6 in Iowa City, Iowa, for the Big Ten tournament. OSU took home a share of the conference title last season.
The tournament is to take place at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.