The No. 4 Ohio State wrestling team suffered a tough loss at the hands of No. 3 Iowa, but looks to finish the season strong, starting with a Feb. 3 matchup against No. 2 Penn State.
The matchup against Penn State will be the first of four in a 10-day span, with each of those matches coming against a Big Ten opponent currently ranked nationally in the top 12.
The Buckeyes lost their dual against Iowa 21-13, and went into the heavyweight needing a fall to win the dual. They were, however, without Kyle Snyder, who is their normal starter in heavyweight.
Despite the loss, the Buckeyes remain focused on finishing this week and preparing each member of the team for the Big Ten and national championships.
“We didn’t get the job done. We lost,” said OSU coach Tom Ryan. “But the good news is that we learned a lot and, unlike many sports, there are no significant consequences to a college dual meet loss in regards to season-ending opportunities to win a national championship.”
As for this week’s matchup against Penn State, many of the Buckeyes have a sense of familiarity with their opponent. One of the most prominent of these matchups is 184-pound sophomore Myles Martin against Penn State’s Bo Nickal.
No. 11 Martin defeated No. 2 Nickal in the 2016 174-pound national championship as a true freshman, becoming the first-ever true freshman at OSU to win a national title. The two have both moved up to 184 pounds for the 2017 season.
“It’ll be interesting,” Martin said about his upcoming matchup. “I’m sure he wants to win this as much as I do. I’m just going to go out there and let it fly.”
Redshirt sophomore Micah Jordan is another OSU wrestler facing a top-ranked opponent, as he faces off against No. 1 149-pounder Zain Retherford. Jordan is coming off a close 2-0 loss to No. 5 Brandon Sorensen of Iowa.
“There is a feeling after you lose, like you’re trying to train harder,” Jordan said. “But I try to keep consistent. No matter if I win or lose, I try to stay consistently motivated in practice.”
In addition to Martin and Micah Jordan, two other Buckeyes will face top competitors in their division. 174-pound redshirt junior Bo Jordan will take on No. 7 Mark Hall, and No. 1 heavyweight Kyle Snyder will take on No. 4 Nick Nevills.
These individual matchups against highly ranked teams hold implications for the Big Ten and national championship tournaments, when many of these wrestlers can meet again.
“This is another chance for us to compete in a high-stress environment because you’re wrestling people that want something as badly as you do,” Ryan said. “The Penn State team, like the Iowa team, like the Ohio State team, all believe that they are the best team.”
Snyder will return to the lineup for heavyweight this week, but the Buckeyes will have a replacement at 157 pounds for redshirt sophomore Jake Ryan. Bo Jordan will likely be in the lineup after wrestling against Iowa, but is still recovering from an injury.