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Wrestling: Ohio State’s lead slips away, just two Buckeyes advance to NCAA championship matches

Ohio State redshirt senior Nathan Tomasello grapples with Iowa’s Spencer Lee on Friday, March 16, 2018 at the Quickens Loans Arena in Cleveland at the NCAA wrestling championships. Tomasello was pinned by Lee in the third period of the 125-pound semifinals. Credit: Jeff Helfrich | Senior Lantern Reporter

CLEVELAND — Ohio State has two wrestlers — Kyle Snyder and Myles Martin — still alive for individual national titles after the Buckeyes coughed up their lead in the team standings in the semifinals Saturday night.

Entering the semifinals, Ohio State maintained control of the top spot in the team standings. But four of its six remaining wrestlers lost in the semifinals, eliminating them from title contention.

The Buckeyes’ disappointing day followed up Thursday’s dominating performance, when they combined to go 19-1. On Friday, nine Ohio State wrestlers competed in the quarterfinals — six advancing to the semifinals — while eight earning All-American honors.

“There’s no reason why anyone from Ohio State should be hanging their head. We came in with a goal winning a national tournament. It’s going to be hard to do tomorrow,” head coach Tom Ryan said. “It’s still possible, but we could be a lot of other teams that aren’t in the hunt. So we’re really blessed right now to be Buckeyes.”

Snyder entered the NCAA championships as the No. 1 seed at heavyweight. In the semifinals, he claimed the victory 10-5 when faced up against the Duke No. 4 seed Jacob Kasper. Last year at nationals, Snyder beat Kasper in the semifinals 19-6.

Snyder opened with two first-period takedowns, but Kasper responded with a takedown of his own in the second. A late takedown by Snyder secures the victory. Snyder was less than enthused about how the evening transpired, despite his victory.

“Yeah, not happy about it (0-4 start to semifinal). I thought that we put ourselves in a really good position after the first day, and then wrestled pretty well in the quarters,” Snyder said. “I don’t know…how to calculate the points. We’re still going to wrestle hard.”

At 184 pounds, Martin moved to the finals by winning against Virginia Tech No. 6 seed Zachary Zavatsky. After a scoreless first period, Martin answered with a takedown after Zacatsky scored an escape. Martin later scored three takedowns, and won 8-4 with the riding time point. In his quarterfinal match, Martin beat North Carolina’s Chip Ness 10-6.

Nothing else went the Buckeyes’ way Friday night.

It sucks that those guys lost, and I felt it when they did lose, but I tried not to get caught up in it a whole lot because I’ve still got to do my part for the team as well,” Martin said. “I controlled my emotions and then was able to compete and do well for my teammates and for the Buckeye fans.”

Kent State’s Kyle Conel pinned Ohio State’s Kollin Moore in a stunning upset in the quarterfinals, bringing down the top seed just 1:30 into the match.

Moore rebounded in the consolation bracket when he beat Iowa No. 14 seed Cash Wilcke and Penn State No. 5 seed Shakur Rasheed.

Ohio State senior Nathan Tomasello failed to win his semifinal match after he was pinned by No. 3 seed Spencer Lee. The second-seeded Tomasello faced Lee three times this season, including at the Big Ten championships where Tomasello came out on top. However, in the semifinals, Lee took a 6-2 lead and finished it off with the fall in the third period.

In Ohio State’s first quarterfinal match of the day, Tomasello scored five takedowns en route to a 12-4 win against Utah Valley No. 7 seed Taylor LaMont.

Wyoming No. 1 seed Bryce Meredith beat Ohio State’s Joey McKenna with a 1-0 decision at 141 pounds. McKenna chose to start the third period at neutral, which in hindsight cost him a chance in overtime. McKenna had several shots, including a late scrum where he had a chance for a takedown, but Meredith held strong and ended McKenna’s run for a national title.

(McKenna’s) been a blessing to the team. He’s a great leader. It was hard to see him lose,” Ryan said. “He earned the respect of his team with his work rather than his words. He’s been a pleasure to have.”

McKenna did not allow a single point during the Big Ten championships, and will compete for third place Saturday.

Ohio State No. 3 seed Luke Pletcher lost to Michigan No. 2 seed Stevan Micic in a dual meet, the Big Ten finals and again in the NCAA tournament semifinals. Micic opened up the scoring with a first-period takedown, but Pletcher never let Micic pull away. A Pletcher takedown in the third gave him the lead 4-3, but after Micic escaped, he got Pletcher on his back long enough to get a near fall. The Wolverine advanced to the final by an 8-4 decision.

Earlier in the day, Pletcher toughed out a 3-1 decision versus Lehigh’s Scott Parker. Pletcher will compete in the consolation bracket for a chance at third place.

Penn State No. 3 seed Jason Nolf dominated Ohio State’s Micah Jordan in the 157-pound semifinals, winning a 16-0 technical fall. Nolf opened with a takedown, and immediately began scoring back points. Jordan fell behind 10-0 quickly, and after failing to escape in the second period, Nolf scored more back points to secure the tech fall. This matchup combined with the earlier losses by Ohio State wrestlers caused Penn State to take control of the lead going into the heavyweight classes.

In his quarterfinal bout, Jordan handled Rutgers No. 15 seed John Van Brill.

Ohio State No. 6 seed Bo Jordan failed to make the semifinals, losing to Missouri No. 3 seed Daniel Lewis. Lewis scored a late-second-period takedown, and Jordan took advantage of any shots.

However, in his consolation win against Army’s Ben Harvey, Bo clinched his fourth All-American season to make him, Snyder and Tomasello the first trio of teammates to all be four-time All-Americans in the same season. He later won a major decision against Oklahoma State No. 13 seed Jacobe Smith 16-2.

Ke-Shawn Hayes’ quarterfinal match was a thriller against North Carolina’s Troy Heilmann. After exchanging escapes in the second and the third periods, they went to overtime. In the second tiebreaker period, Hayes failed to escape, with Heilmann just doing enough to prevent Hayes from capitalizing on his reversal attempt and win the match 2-1.

Hayes was then dropped 9-0 by Iowa No. 2 Brandon Sorensen.

The sole Buckeye to not advance to the quarterfinals, junior Te’Shan Campbell took a lead in his first consolation match at 165 pounds, but Missouri’s Connor Flynn cut into the score in the third period. The Buckeye junior survived with a 9-8 win, but dropped his next match against Minnesota’s Nicholas Wanzek 4-3.

Snyder and Martin will wrestle for the championship at 8 p.m. Saturday. The consolation matches will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday.

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