A career milestone and a beatdown were the story of Ohio State wrestling’s dual meet with Illinois Sunday.
No. 4 Ohio State (7-1, 4-0 Big Ten) dismantled Illinois (4-3, 1-2) 28-6, with one win by major decision and another by pin.
“It was a cold day in Columbus, Ohio. [The crowd] brought a ton of energy,” Ohio State head coach Tom Ryan said. “It’s vitally important that we have an environment at home that’s suffocating.”
Ohio State senior Luke Pletcher, the No. 1 wrestler at 141 pounds, collected win No. 100 of his career in a 12-5 decision over Illinois redshirt junior Dylan Duncan, the No. 12 wrestler in the weight class.
Pletcher joined redshirt senior Kollin Moore, the No. 1 wrestler at 197 pounds, in the 100-win club. Moore achieved the mark in this past Friday’s dual against then-No. 8 Wisconsin, and picked up another victory against Illinois redshirt sophomore Matt Wroblewski.
Moore controlled Wroblewski throughout the match eventually, ending it with a fall to extend the Buckeye lead to 25-6.
Pletcher’s victory against Duncan marked a turning point in the meet for the Buckeyes. Pletcher is undefeated in four career meetings with Duncan.
Coming off a win this past Friday, Ohio State’s 184-pound redshirt freshman Rocky Jordan had an uphill battle against No. 11 redshirt freshman Zac Braunagel.
Jordan collected two first-period takedowns, jumping out to a 4-1 lead, but Braunagel battled back to even the match at 4-4. A late second-period escape gave Jordan the lead again, then an escape to open the third allowed him to hold on for a 6-4 upset win.
“I keep believing in what the coaches are telling me; keep making adjustments,” Jordan said. “It showed a little bit.”
Ryan said the performance was important for Jordan to gain momentum moving forward.
“Confidence is an amazing thing in the human psyche,” Ryan said. “Rocky built some confidence today.”
Ohio State redshirt sophomore Ethan Smith, the No. 12 wrestler at 165 pounds, appeared to have the closest match on paper against the Fighting Illini’s No. 14 redshirt freshman Danny Braunagel.
It lived up to the billing. After nothing but escapes to set a 1-1 score entering the final period, Smith scored a late takedown to earn a 3-1 victory.
“He could’ve been up by 4 or 5 late in the match but, he wasn’t,” Ryan said. “He didn’t get down on [himself], he went and got the one he needed to win”.
At the 149-pound weight class, No. 6 Ohio State redshirt freshman Sammy Sasso scratched out a 13-3 major decision against Illinois redshirt senior Mousa Jodeho.
Ohio State redshirt junior Elijah Cleary battled against Illinois’ No. 22 redshirt senior Eric Barone in a close overtime match. With the backing of an electric home crowd, Cleary eventually upset Barone in a 4-3 decision win coming in three extra periods.
“Continued self-belief is all it takes. There’s nothing he can’t do that another 157-pounder can do,” Smith said, “He is doing the work, lives a clean life, does all the right things.”
The Buckeye fan favorite in the heavyweight division, redshirt junior Gary Traub, faced the Fighting Illini’s freshman Luke Luffman as the last match of the dual. Traub slammed his way into an 11-4 decision, setting the final tally at 28-6.
Ohio State’s next dual is a showdown at No. 1 Iowa Friday at 9 p.m.