The second-ranked Ohio State wrestling team will waste no time trying to prove its worth Sunday when it welcomes No. 11 Arizona State to Columbus for its home opener at 1 p.m. Sunday in an early season test.
Arizona State fields a lineup that includes six wrestlers in the top 25 of FloWrestling’s individual weight class rankings. Among those six competitors is the top-ranked 174-pound wrestler, sophomore Zahid Valencia, who is coming off 3-2 victory last weekend over defending national champion Penn State sophomore Mark Hall.
Redshirt senior Bo Jordan will square off with Valencia Sunday. Jordan, who is ranked No. 3 nationally in his class, said an early season tilt with a wrestler like Valencia is something he hasn’t done before
“I haven’t hit anyone in the top 10, definitely not top five until the week before the Big Ten tournament or the national tournament,” Jordan said. “I’m real excited to hit somebody really good, the top guy in the country, to see where I am and test myself and get that competition right off the bat.”
Multiple other matchups between ranked wrestlers will take place Sunday. Ohio State will likely employ a lineup that includes nine ranked wrestlers. Head coach Tom Ryan, said he will learn a lot about his team from a matchup against one of just 12 schools in the NCAA that have won a team national title.
“Up and down the lineup we’re going to see some good wrestling,” Ryan said. “We just want to see our team scoring points, wrestling freely, being aggressive and putting points up on the board.”
In the heavyweight division, Ohio State’s top-ranked senior Kyle Snyder will take on fourth-ranked junior Tanner Hall. At 165 pounds, ninth-ranked junior Te’Shan Campbell will wrestle his first dual-meet match for Ohio State as a transfer against Arizona State’s seventh-ranked sophomore Anthony Valencia, Zahid’s brother.
There will be another set of brothers at St. John Arena Sunday. At 157 pounds, fourth-ranked redshirt junior Micah Jordan will wrestle before his brother Bo against sophomore Joshua Shields, who is ranked No. 11. Micah tries to prepare for each of his opponents in a consistent fashion, but will do his homework on a skilled adversary in Shields.
“I’ll watch some videos on him and see what he does,” Micah said. “Last weekend, he won the Michigan State Open, so he’s a good wrestler and I’ll be ready for him.”
Ohio State redshirt sophomore Ke-Shawn Hayes, who is ranked No. 9 at 149 pounds, will do battle with sophomore Josh Maruca. Maruca is ranked No. 13.
In what has potential to be an interesting match if it takes place, Ohio State freshman 125-pounder Brakan Mead could face off with sixth-ranked redshirt junior Ryan Millhof. It is unknown whether Millhof will compete after medically forfeiting at last weekend’s Michigan State Open. Mead will begin the season filling in for top-ranked redshirt senior Nathan Tomasello, who is out for two months with a knee injury.
The rest of Ohio State’s lineup will be filled out by sophomore Luke Pletcher, the 10th-ranked wrestler at 133 pounds; fifth-ranked 141-pounder junior Joey McKenna; junior Myles Martin, the second-ranked wrestler at 184 pounds; and redshirt sophomore Kollin Moore, who is the No. 1 competitor at 197 pounds.
Arizona State faces a difficult weekend of competition. On Friday, the Sun Devils will travel to Ann Arbor, Michigan, just two days prior to their meet with the Buckeyes to face off with No. 4 Michigan.
Prior to the dual meet, Ohio State will drop two banners — one celebrating the Big Ten championship and the other honoring Snyder’s 2017 individual national championship — from the rafters at St. John Arena in honor of accomplishments last season.