Kyle Snyder, Nathan Tomasello and Bo Jordan have been one of the most dynamic trios in the history of college wrestling.
On Thursday, the three will make their final road trip with the No. 2 Ohio State men’s wrestling team, traveling north to Cleveland in pursuit of another team title at the NCAA national championships.
For those three special seniors, it would be the second national championship they have won. That accolade combined with the chance to become the first trio of teammates to all claim four All-American recognitions could cement their legacy as one of the most dominant groups of teammates in collegiate wrestling history.
Ohio State is fresh off winning the Big Ten championship on March 4 in East Lansing, Michigan, after it finished with 164.5 points, 16.5 more than Penn State’s second-place score of 148. Ohio State had seven wrestlers reach the finals and four claim titles.
With Ohio State having found success at the Big Ten championships, the expectation of a national title has grown to the next level.
“I think we have a team that is capable of breaking the score record and becoming the best team that’s ever competed in the NCAA tournament,” Snyder said. “If we wrestle our best I don’t think any team can even come within 20 points of us.”
Ohio State head coach Tom Ryan, who was named Big Ten Coach of the Year after winning his third Big Ten title at Ohio State, said that the team does not have to do anything particularly out of the ordinary for it to find more success this weekend.
“I don’t think we need anything special,” Ryan said. “We don’t need anything better than they are capable of, we just need them to be themselves.”
Snyder talks of breaking records, whereas Ryan talks of nothing special. Regardless, both would be happy if Ohio State is able to beat Penn State, its biggest threat to the championship.
Penn State had three individual champions at the Big Ten championships, and are still the top-ranked team despite the loss to the Buckeyes in the tournament. That ranking is due in part to the fact Penn State was not fully healthy when it made the trip to East Lansing. Junior Jason Nolf medically forfeited his semifinal match against Michigan 157-pound wrestler Alec Pantaleo, which potentially cost the Nittany Lions points.
This decision was made to make certain Nolf was healthy for nationals, given that him winning a national championship could go a long way in deciding the team title.
Jordan said he doesn’t like to worry about opponents more than normal preparation because he believes it is counterproductive, comparing the uncertainty of his future opponents in the men’s basketball NCAA Tournament.
“You never know what’s gonna happen,” he said. “You start penciling stuff out, next thing you know it all goes to heck.”
Staying in the spotlight of college wrestling, Snyder talked about why he isn’t here to protect anything.
“Now I always tell people not to protect what they have, and I feel like I am really living that out by wrestling this tournament,” Snyder said.
Already a three-time collegiate individual national champion, Snyder had everything to lose and nothing left to prove by returning to Ohio State to continue wrestling. Yet not backing down, or not protecting what he has, Snyder has illustrated how he had everything to prove by coming back.
Tomasello is from Cleveland, having gone to Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy. He claimed his fourth Big Ten title already this year. Now he will be competing for his second national title.
Being that he began his wrestling career at Cuyahoga Valley, he said it seems only fitting his final collegiate match will take place in Cleveland.
“It’s going to be awesome having a lot of family, a lot of friends, and people who supported me throughout my career there,” Tomasello said.
Ryan, Snyder and Jordan echoed their feelings that this team is better than the 2015 team that won the national title.
“I think that team had enough points to win it,” Ryan said. “This team, at the Big Ten’s, you look at it’s the highest team points scored since 2002. That’s a long time in the Big Ten with a lot of good teams. This is a special team.”
Ohio State enters the tournament with two No. 1 seeds and two No. 2 seeds. The semifinals are at 8 p.m. Friday and the finals are at 8 p.m. Saturday.