Ohio State Nathan Tomasello said Friday his right knee was injured while competing at the U-23 World Team Trials on Oct. 8. Ohio State announced shortly thereafter the 125-pound wrestler would miss an indefinite amount of time to start his redshirt senior season.
He said he received an MRI last week and had his right knee scoped Wednesday along with a trim of his meniscus. Head coach Tom Ryan felt more optimistic after the knee scope.
“We thought it was significant and we feel way better about it,” Ryan said. “He got scoped and he’s going to be back I think sooner than we thought.”
Originally, Ohio State expected Tomasello to return to the Buckeyes’ lineup in January. Ryan said a December return might be feasible at this point. Tomasello agreed with the possibility, but is taking his rehab one step at a time.
“We’ll see,” Tomasello said. “I’m not going to put it out there. I think it is, but I know the doctor is pretty conservative. They’re thinking January, but it’s all about how I’m feeling. I feel like once I get on the mats in a few weeks from now, if it’s feeling good, I’m definitely going to want to be back earlier.”
Before the injury, Tomasello was focused on his return to the 125-pound class after competing at 133 pounds last season. He was previously in the 125-pound class the two seasons prior to his redshirt junior campaign. The redshirt senior is looking to become a four-time All American before his time at Ohio State ends.
While attempting to qualify for the U-23 World Championships a couple weeks ago, Tomasello said he felt good on the mat during his match in the finals with Oklahoma State’s Daton Fix and that he continued to wrestle after knowing he had sustained the injury.
“I wrestled well and had a good opponent in the finals and we had some good battles,” Tomasello said. “In the second match, I was finishing a shot, landed on my knee wrong and felt it pop. I was able to continue the match, but after the match it started swelling up and it was pretty tough to walk on the next day.”
Tomasello would miss 12 Ohio State wrestling events if he does not compete for the remainder of the calendar year. At wrestle-offs Thursday night, freshman Brakan Mead defeated fellow freshman Brady Koontz and will serve as Tomasello’s replacement until the former NCAA champion returns.
The redshirt senior has experience navigating his way back from injury. While competing at the 2016 NCAA Wrestling Championships during the end of his redshirt sophomore year, Tomasello injured his shoulder and re-injured it while trying to compete at Olympic trials afterwards. He then underwent rotator cuff surgery and endured six months of rehab before returning for another All-American season.
“Just knowing what it takes and having a mindset of being patient and knowing my body, I think it’s important looking back at that knowing with this injury, how to deal with it,” Tomasello said.
Ryan has nothing but confidence in the return of his redshirt senior and said the rehab will be just as much mental as it is physical.
“The most important thing is where Nate’s mind is,” Ryan said. “And his mind has never been more ferocious and focused at what he’s got to do to get back.”