Ohio State and Cornell will finish the regular season with a duel that includes 15 nationally ranked wrestlers.
The No. 6 Ohio State wrestling team (11-2, 7-2 Big Ten) takes on No. 9 Cornell on the road Friday. The Big Red (13-2, 5-0 EIWA) has won their most recent duel in dominant fashion against North Carolina 29-5.
Ohio State head coach Tom Ryan said this non-conference duel is important for the sport of wrestling.
“For the growth of this sport, [having] big duels is important,” Ryan said. “It is a good team and it is going to [have] some competitive matches.”
The Buckeyes are coming off a 21-12 victory against then-No. 7 Nebraska on Sunday while winning six of its 10 bouts.
Ohio State senior Joey McKenna, the No. 3 wrestler in the country at 141 pounds, has the marquee matchup of the duel, but is an underdog for the first time all season. He will take on Cornell undefeated top-ranked sophomore Yianni Diakomihalis.
Diakomihalis is the defending national champion at 141 pounds and has a 56-1 career record.
McKenna said he is excited to wrestle a top-level foe in Diakomihalis.
“It is going to be another good test,” McKenna said. “[Diakomihalis] is younger and pretty talented so it should be a fun match.”
Ohio State senior Myles Martin, the No. 1 wrestler in the country at 184 pounds and undefeated on the season, will be tested against Cornell sixth-ranked sophomore Max Dean, who has a 17-4 record.
Ohio State junior Luke Pletcher, the No. 6 wrestler in the country at 133 pounds, will face Cornell eleventh-ranked junior Chas Tucker.
Pletcher said he knows Tucker well and that they grew up wrestling together.
“It is going to be a good match,” Pletcher said. “He is a pretty tough kid.”
Ohio State redshirt junior Kollin Moore, the No. 2 wrestler in the country at 197 pounds, will face Cornell eight-ranked senior Ben Honis.
Ohio State redshirt freshman Ethan Smith, the No. 17 wrestler in the country at 174 pounds, will face Cornell’s fourteenth-ranked junior Brandon Womack.
Womack finished No. 8 at nationals at 165 pounds as a freshman and has qualified for nationals three years in a row.
Ryan said Smith needs to be on the attack and really focus on his takedowns.
“[Smith] is just a matter of finishing,” Ryan said. “He is getting in on legs and not finishing.”
No. 6 Ohio State will take on No. 9 Cornell at 6:30 p.m. on Friday in Ithaca, New York.