With a roster full of talent like Tom Ryan’s, the Ohio State wrestling head coach is often asked what keeps his team motivated. His answer this fall: the NCAA national championships taking place in Cleveland at the Quicken Loans Arena during the upcoming season.
March 15-17 will see Buckeye fans descend on the city of Cleveland to observe Ohio State wrestling as it makes yet another run at a team national championship along with what could be multiple individual crowns.
Senior heavyweight Kyle Snyder remembers the feeling of winning the national championship in 2015 and believes that winning another — this time in the Buckeye state — would make it even sweeter.
“This couldn’t be a better storyline,” Snyder said. “We win it as a team when I was a freshman and now as a senior, as a leader of this team, to be able to compete on home turf basically in Cleveland with tens of thousands of Buckeyes there watching us. It really couldn’t be a better ending to my career if we all go out there and wrestle as hard as we can and win a team title.”
Ryan, citing ESPN statistics, pointed out that more fans from Columbus watched the NCAA championships last season than in any other city in the country. Those fans might get to see the team in person come March. As far as members of his team, many of them wrestled in front of large crowds at the Schottenstein Center during their high school state championships, and they want that feeling again, Ryan said.
“These guys are fired up that it’s in Cleveland,” Ryan said. “We’ve had a huge response in number of tickets that people want to get into the arena and it’s in the [Quicken Loans Arena], which should be pretty cool. It’s definitely something that we’re excited about.”
In particular, the event has special meaning for two of Ryan’s wrestlers: redshirt seniors Nathan Tomasello (125 pounds) and Bo Jordan (174 pounds). The two are decorated veterans looking to lead their team to a national championship, and were both born and raised in Ohio.
“For Nate and Bo in particular, as seniors, to have the national championship in your home state, I can’t think of anything as a student athlete growing up in Ohio that could be greater than that,” Ryan said.
Jordan expressed his desire to go toe-to-toe with formidable opponents at nationals in Cleveland in his quest to claim not only a team national championship, but also his first individual national championship in his backyard.
“It’s really cool,” Jordan said. “I don’t know if the national title has ever been here before or if it has been, it’s been a while, as long as I can remember. We’re real excited about that, bringing it here to Ohio and being able to have the fans here. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Nobody on the wrestling roster grew up closer to Cleveland than Tomasello, a product of Parma and Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy in Parma, Ohio, about 10 miles south of Cleveland.
“It’s very important,” Tomasello said. “I consider Cleveland to be more my home. I’m really pumped that nationals are going be there at the [Quicken Loans Arena] and just having a lot of support. That’s where I grew up, that’s where everyone has helped me get to where I am now.”
Tomasello said the prospect of competing at the NCAAs in Cleveland reminds him of when he wrestled at the Walsh Ironman tournament in high school within walking distance from his school and near where he grew up. Competing in his city is something the redshirt senior thrives on.
“There was so much support in that tournament, I just fed off of that energy in that environment,” Tomasello said. “That energy is something that I can see in Cleveland with all the Ohio State Buckeye fans there and just people that have supported me my whole wrestling career. That’s what it makes me think of.”