Ohio State wrestling will remain undefeated in Big Ten play if it can best Wisconsin and Illinois in two dual meets over a three-day stretch.
The No. 4 Buckeyes (5-1, 1-0 Big Ten) will compete against their third straight ranked opponent in No. 8 Wisconsin (8-2, 1-2) Friday before taking on Illinois (4-2, 1-1) at home Sunday.
“This an interesting stretch for us,” Ohio State head coach Tom Ryan said. “We’re in the meat of the Big Ten dual meet schedule.”
Starting off with a road trip to Wisconsin, Ohio State takes on a Badger team fresh off an upset win against then-No. 2 Nebraska this past Sunday.
A top 5 matchup will take place Friday at the 141-pound weight class, as No. 1 Ohio State senior Luke Pletcher will square off with Wisconsin redshirt senior Tristan Moran –– the No. 4 wrestler at 141 pounds.
“It’ll be interesting. I am excited to wrestle [Moran]. I’ve never wrestled him before,” Pletcher said.
Ohio State redshirt freshman Sammy Sasso, the No. 6 wrestler at 149 pounds, will likely take on No. 13 Wisconsin redshirt senior Cole Martin for another first-time matchup.
“[I am] just excited to compete and to be able to do what I love. I am ready to go out and scrap,” Sasso said. “I’ve never been to Wisconsin, so it will be cool to get out there and be able to scrap in a new environment. It’s something I’m not used to.”
Another possible ranked matchup comes at 169 pounds, as No. 12 Ohio State redshirt sophomore Ethan Smith faces No. 4 redshirt junior Evan Wick.
When Ohio State returns home Sunday, it will meet an Illinois team on the cusp of being ranked following a dominant dual performance against Indiana. The Fighting Illini won 32-3 this past Sunday.
Pletcher is set to wrestle Illinois redshirt junior Dylan Duncan for the fourth time. Pletcher is 3-0 against Duncan with the most recent match being a 15-5 major decision for Pletcher.
“Luke has to keep doing ‘Luke-y’ things,” Ryan said. “Luke has to be aggressive, attack and score. He had a great week of training; he’s ready to go, but Moran is a worthy opponent.”
Three Ohio State wrestlers received scholarships this week ahead of the Big Ten duals. Freshmen brothers Jacob and Jordan Decatur, as well as redshirt junior Gary Traub have each earned scholarships.
Jordan Decatur earned a No. 20 spot at the 133-pound weight class this week and could face back-to-back top 10 opponents in Wisconsin No. 1 redshirt senior Seth Gross and Illinois No. 8 senior Travis Piotrowski.
“You’re only a walk-on if your mindset is that you think you are,” Ryan said. “Walk-on should be [an] endearing term. It shouldn’t be a term of, ‘Oh well, you’re below someone else.’”
Traub has seized opportunity following the injury of redshirt sophomore heavyweight Chase Singletary. He’s made the most of his spotlight, posting a 16-2 overall record this season.
Wisconsin has lost to Ohio State three times in a row in dual meet competition. The Fighting Illini have lost five consecutive dual meets to the Buckeyes.
Both will have their shot at the Buckeyes this weekend, as the meet at Wisconsin begins at 9 p.m. Friday, and the Illinois meet takes place at 1 p.m. Sunday.