The Ohio State wrestling team will be the only team in the nation to represent all 10 weight classes when it heads to Pittsburgh Thursday to compete for a title in the NCAA Championships.
No. 6 Ohio State (12-2, 7-2 Big Ten) will try to win the NCAA Championship as a team after finishing second each of the past two postseasons to Penn State. The Buckeyes have the edge as the only team with the ability to gain points in all 10 weight classes, and with multiple wrestlers in contention for individual championships.
“Let’s not take for granted the fact that we did what no other team did this year in the country in regard to qualifying [all 10 wrestlers],” Ohio State head coach Tom Ryan said. “But also, it is Ohio State, and we can attract the best, and we are all seeking perfection and that’s what we are after.”
The Buckeyes’ 10-man lineup earned five top-5 seeds for the 2019 NCAA Wrestling Championships. Ohio State senior Myles Martin, the No. 1 wrestler in the country at 184 pounds, received the only top seed for the Buckeyes.
Martin is one of only 12 wrestlers nationally to own an undefeated record heading into the NCAA Championships.
Ryan said Martin has a lot of pressure to win the national title but is confident in his abilities.
“I believe [Martin] is the best pound-for-pound wrestler in the tournament,” Ryan said. “We will see come Thursday.”
Ohio State senior Joey McKenna, the No. 2 wrestler in the country at 141 pounds, avenged one of his two losses on the season in the Big Ten 141-pound championship match by defeating Penn State sophomore Nick Lee, the then-No. 2 wrestler in the NCAA at 141 pounds.
McKenna could have a chance to avenge the only other wrestler that has defeated him this season in Cornell sophomore Yianni Diakomihalis, who is the No. 1 wrestler at 141 pounds and remains undefeated, should they both reach the finals.
Ryan said McKenna learned from his loss, and knows what he needs to do to defeat No. 1 seed Diakomihalis.
“[McKenna] had a great match with [Diakomihalis]. We liked the way the match went,” Ryan said. “He has to finish some of the shots he didn’t finish.”
Ohio State redshirt senior Micah Jordan and redshirt junior Kollin Moore, the No. 2 wrestlers in the country at 149 pounds and 197 pounds, respectively, both head into the NCAA Championships as the other two No. 2 seeds for the Buckeyes.
Jordan has lost only two matches this season, both to Rutgers’ Anthony Ashnault, who is the top seed at 149 pounds.
Moore also has two losses to one wrestler: undefeated Penn State redshirt senior Bo Nickal, the No. 1 wrestler in the country at 197 pounds.
Ryan said the wrestlers must go match by match and he expects big things from Jordan and Moore.
“They got to be really smart with the tactics they use and the skill they use when they use it,” Ryan said. “A lot of this at times boils down to quality decision-making.”
Ohio State junior Luke Pletcher, the No. 9 wrestler in the country at 133 pounds, received the No. 5 seed in the NCAA Championships after a strong performance in the Big Ten Tournament, finishing as the runner-up.
Pletcher said the 133-pound weight class was very difficult this season, but still feels ready to compete.
“No matter where they put you in that bracket, it is going to be a brutal way,” Pletcher said. “I think I got a good [seed], ready to wrestle and feel good [about] getting back my mojo and ready to rock.”
Ohio State senior Te’Shan Campbell, the No. 16 wrestler in the country at 165 pounds, received the No. 21 seed in the NCAA Championships.
Campbell transferred to Ohio State from the University of Pittsburgh after the 2017 season and talked about what it means to him to be wrestling in front of his hometown in Pittsburgh for the NCAA Championships.
“Why not have it at home [when] it could be anywhere?” Campbell said. “I look forward to the experience of going back home with friends and family and being able to celebrate with them.”
No. 6 Ohio State will attempt to win its first NCAA Championship since 2015 starting at noon Thursday in Pittsburgh.