CLEVELAND — Though four of six wrestlers from the No. 2 Ohio State wrestling team fell in their efforts to advance to the NCAA championship round on Saturday night, the Buckeyes who lost still have a significant role to play in determining the team title.
At the conclusion of session four, Penn State led the Buckeyes 120.5 to 109.5. Penn State has a whopping five wrestlers in the finals, to just two for Ohio State. However, six Buckeyes have work to do between the consolation bracket and the championship bracket.
They will need outside help to win the team title, but there is some left they still can control.
Ohio State No. 2 Myles Martin, one of two Buckeyes to advance to the finals, has a date set with Penn State No. 1 seed Bo Nickal in the finals at 184 pounds.
“He’s really tough. I’m really tough, and it’s always fun watching us compete. But when I wrestle him tomorrow, I’m just going to throw all my attacks, get him on my offense. If I lose, I’ll know he beat the best of me, not I wish I could have done this, I wish I could have done that,” Martin said. “I just want to put it all out there and compete to the best of my ability with God on my side.”
Martin and Nickal have faced each other eight times collegiately, with Nickal winning both times this season. The last time the two met on the national championship stage, however, Martin came on top 11-9 in the 2016 NCAA finals. Martin will need to pull off the upset again, even though these two competitors come in as the top two seeds.
The third installment of the No. 1 Kyle Snyder and Michigan No. 2 Adam Coon match will be of monumental importance for Ohio State in the finals Saturday night. Given the deficit the team currently faces, the Buckeyes desperately need Snyder’s points to make a run at Penn State. If Snyder loses, Ohio State’s hopes of catching Penn State would likely be gone.
“I’m not going to lie. I was hoping somebody might be able to take him out on that other side so I didn’t have to wrestle him,” Snyder said. “But now that it’s here, I always embrace the challenge. It’s going to be an epic match, round three.”
Ohio State senior Nathan Tomasello only has to win one match against Northwestern No. 10 seed Sebastian Rivera to advance to the third-place match at 125 pounds. If he advances, he will wrestle the winner of Minnesota’s Ethan Lizak and the Lehigh No. 1 seed Darian Cruz for third place.
No. 3 seed Luke Pletcher has a match against the Oklahoma State No. 4 seed Kaid Brock in his way of the 133 pound third-place match. This should be another close match for Pletcher, who has wrestled in plenty of close matchups throughout the year. Advancing against Brock, and battling the winner of North Carolina State’s Tariq Wilson and Rutgers’ Scott Delvecchio for third would be ideal for Ohio State.
Pletcher won against Wilson 7-3 on Feb. 18, and against Delvecchio 4-2 on Jan. 7.
Joey McKenna gets North Carolina States’ Kevin Jack, who he defeated on Feb. 18 during the dual meet season finale. Jack was ranked ahead of McKenna at the time, and should be a close match.
No. 7 seed Micah Jordan didn’t have a stellar semifinal, losing 16-0. But he did defeat his next opponent, Nebraska No. 8 Tyler Berger at Big Ten’s on March 3.
Ohio State senior Bo Jordan has already done well in the consolation bracket, winning his first two matches after losing in the quarterfinals. The problem is, Michigan No. 5 Myles Amine is awaiting him on the mat next. Amine won 6-5 against Jordan on Feb. 11, and pinned him at the Big Ten championships.
The No. 1 seed Kollin Moore has also done damage in the consolation brackets for the Buckeyes after his shocking loss in the quarterfinals. He faces Cornell No. 2 seed Ben Darmstadt to advance to the third-place match.
With lots of team points still up for grabs, the Ohio State lineup needs to do the dirty work, because the strength of this team is their depth. The Buckeyes need a great day from their remaining eight wrestlers, regardless of what round they are in, if they want to have a chance at the national title. Ohio State will need several Penn State wrestlers to lose, especially the five in the finals.