No. 2 Ohio State’s home opener went as planned, as the undefeated Buckeyes knocked off previously undefeated No. 19 Wisconsin 23-13 on Sunday.
Despite an early loss by sophomore 125-pound wrestler Braken Mead, junior Luke Pletcher, the No. 7 wrestler in the 133-pound weight class in the country, recorded a takedown in the second period.
But Ohio State began to find its momentum early on, with senior captain Joey McKenna, the No. 2 wrestler in the 141-pound weight class, defeated Wisconsin redshirt junior Tristan Moran, the No. 12 wrestler in the class, after takedowns in both the second and third period, leading to a dominant 14-2 win.
Redshirt senior and No. 3 Micah Jordan continued the momentum for Ohio State, continued the momentum for Ohio State, coming out with a quick takedown just seconds in to take an early 2-0 lead and never looked back. A 14-4 major decision win for Jordan improved his record to 12-1 on the season and put the Buckeyes up 11-3.
Jordan said he felt his early takedown set the tone for the rest of the match.
“It’s really important to score first,” Jordan said. “I had to stay after the guy, but it’s nice to go out there and get that early takedown to get the ball rolling.”
With an 11-6 halftime lead, Ohio State opened the second half with its toughest task yet: taking on Wisconsin redshirt sophomore Evan Wick, the No. 2 wrestler in the 165-pound class. Undefeated coming into the match, Wick showed dominance against Ohio State redshirt freshman Ryan Ferro, earning a 13-1 major decision and lessening the Badgers’ deficit to one point.
The momentum for Wisconsin continued early on in the 174-pound matchup between the Badgers’ No. 9 redshirt senior Ryan Christensen and Ohio State redshirt freshman Ethan Smith after an early takedown. But after an aggressive third period by Smith and pin attempt that was too late by Christensen, Ohio State picked up the upset victory.
Smith said that crowd gave him some added energy but he wasn’t thinking about how close the dual score was when he stepped out on the mats.
“The atmosphere helped and it was just unparalleled, but I try not to think of the team race when I’m out there,” Smith said. “Obviously you want to try to get bonus points for you team, but I just wanted to think about my match and what I wanted to do. I was just trying to think about my wrestling.”
In the 184-pound division, it was senior captain and No. 1 Myles Martin who got off to a hot start with a quick takedown just seconds in to grab a 2-0 lead over Wisconsin’s redshirt junior Mason Reinhardt. Martin added two more takedowns in the final minute, eventually finishing the match off with a 21-8 victory. Martin improved to 7-0 on the season with his win.
With a 17-10 lead over Wisconsin, Ohio State sent out redshirt junior and No. 3 Kollin Moore to take on Wisconsin’s freshman Andrew Salemme in the 197-pound division. A quick near-pin gave Moore an 8-1 lead before he got an actual pin to win the dual for the Buckeyes and make the score 23-10.
The Buckeyes ultimately picked up the 23-13 victory after redshirt freshman and No. 14 Chase Singletary lost to No. 9 Wisconsin redshirt freshman Trent Hillger 6-1 in the 285-pound heavyweight division.
Following the win, Ohio State head coach Tom Ryan said his team needs to face more adversity in order to improve later in the season.
“We raise our children in a way that we want them to experience joy and happiness, however, we need to suffer more,” Ryan said. “Suffering is really important for us. Moving towards discomfort and away from the coziness of our amazing lives, is very hard. This team needs more of that.”
Ryan said Ohio State needs to sacrifice and suffer as a group to get tougher. And through this, he said this team has a lot of potential.
“This team will have a chance to be really great,” Ryan said.“Tonight was a good performance, but we need to be better.”
No. 2 Ohio State will be off for almost a month, and it will play host at St. John Arena in Columbus against North Carolina State on January 6.