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Wrestling: Ohio State and Penn St has become rivalry over recent years

No. 3 Micah Jordan celebrates a last-second takedown that won him the bout against North Carolina State University’s No. 4 Justin Oliver in the 149-pound bout of the Ohio State vs. NCSU dual meet at St. John Arena. Jordan won the bout by decision, 6-5. Credit: Sal Marandino | For The Lantern

Every year, both Ohio State and Penn State have this duel circled on their calendars.

Recently, a rivalry has formed between Ohio State and Penn State with some of the most talented wrestlers in the country, and this year is no different. Penn State leads the overall series with a record of 20-12, and currently have a three-duel win streak against the Buckeyes.  

As a veteran, Ohio State redshirt junior Kollin Moore, the No. 2 wrestler in the country at 197 pounds, knows what the rivalry between the Nittany Lions and the Buckeyes means on the mat.

“ It would mean so much, at least to me. A lot of the young guys haven’t been in there and experienced that kind of intensity when we wrestle [Penn State], said Moore. “[Penn State] has beaten us a lot and we have beaten them sometimes, and it would be really big for us to get a win.”

No. 6 Ohio State will host No. 1 Penn State, following a 19-18 Nittany Lions home win a season ago, with an anticipated energized crowd and expected sold out St. John Arena to try and stop the losing streak against its rival.

Ohio State head coach Tom Ryan said his team is excited for a chance at redemption..

“I think the crowd speaks to the madness of the event, and hopefully it will sell out,” Ryan said. “We lost a close one last year, and we definitely want this one.”  

Ohio State and Penn State have gone toe-to-toe in nationals, the biggest stage in collegiate wrestling, the past eight years.

Penn State has won seven NCAA championships in those eight years, while Ohio State has won one, finishing runner-up to Penn State two years in a row.

Ohio State redshirt freshman Ethan Smith, the No. 17 wrestler in the country at 174 pounds, said payback is on the team’s mind.

“We have a salty taste in our mouths from last year because they got the better of us,” Smith said. “I’m just really looking forward to the [duel].”

When Ohio State and Penn State square up on Friday, there will be five former or defending NCAA champions competing, which has become a common occurrence in their recent duels..

Penn State redshirt senior Bo Nickal, No. 1 wrestler in the country at 197 pounds, has won two-straight NCAA titles, and has won 90 of 93 career matches.

“197 is the Mack Daddy match,” Ryan said. “That is the one that is a No. 1 versus No. 2 matchup and it should be fun to watch.”

Ohio State senior Myles Martin, the No. 1 wrestler in the country at 184 pounds, won the NCAA title at 174 pounds, as a true freshman in 2016, who has 109-18 career record.

Penn State redshirt senior Jason Nolf and redshirt junior Vincenzo Joseph, No. 1 at 157 pounds and 165 pounds, respectively, are currently both two-time defending NCAA champions.

Ryan called Nolf “one of the elite college wrestlers in the last 50 years.”

Penn State junior Mark Hall, the No. 1 wrestler in the country at 174 pounds, won the NCAA title in 2017, and has a career record of 63-4.

With 17 of 20 wrestlers in this duel being ranked, Ryan said that this duel is something that fans of all sports should be watching.

“If you can’t get fired up for this [duel] then you should find something else to do with your time,” Ryan said.

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