As the regular season comes to a close and postseason play begins, Ohio State wrestling is traveling to Piscataway, New Jersey, over the weekend in search of its third Big Ten title in four years.
The No. 5 Buckeyes (10-4, 6-3 Big Ten) are ranked No. 3 in the FloWrestling tournament rankings behind rivals Iowa and Penn State.
Ten Buckeyes will be poised to make a run for individual titles, with redshirt senior Kollin Moore and redshirt freshman Sammy Sasso leading the pack, claiming No. 1 seeds at 197 and 149 pounds, respectively.
“The Big Ten is where the elite come to compete,” head coach Tom Ryan said. “It’s time to show what we’re all about.”
Just weeks after his only loss of the season, Ohio State senior Luke Pletcher, who’s seeded No. 2 in the 141-pound bracket, will have a chance to avenge his loss against Penn State junior Nick Lee, the No. 1 seed. Pletcher lost to Lee when Ohio State visited Penn State Feb. 15.
Due to their dominance throughout the season, both Pletcher and Lee have first-round byes.
“We need to see the Luke Pletcher that attacks,” Ryan said. “He’s got a ton of offense. He’s hard to wrestle.”
The 125- and 157-pound weight classes are toss-ups for the Buckeyes.
“I’ve had a lot of good wins [the] last few weeks, I think it helped with my confidence and I truly believe that I’m good enough to be on the podium,” sophomore Malik Heinselman said.
Heinselman will represent the Buckeyes as the No. 11-seed at 125 pounds.
Redshirt junior Elijah Cleary said he is ready to “unleash the beast” after punching his ticket as the No. 11-seed in the 157-pound weight class.
“I’m very excited honestly, just super grateful for the opportunity and looking to showcase what I’ve been working on,” Cleary said.
At 197, Moore already claims two titles, and with the No. 1 slot heading into the tournament, he’s eyeing another.
Sasso will be in search of his first Big Ten title in a top-heavy weight class. Iowa redshirt senior Pat Lugo and Minnesota redshirt freshman Brayton Lee, No. 2 and No. 3 in the tournament, will be seeking vengeance over Sasso –– who defeated them both in duals this season.
Like Pletcher, Moore and Sasso will also have first-round byes.
“Sammy doesn’t think like a freshman. Sammy doesn’t think, ‘Well, I’ve got three more years,’ Sammy thinks that, ‘This is the only year I have and I’m going to take advantage of it,’” Ryan said. “He’s a tremendous leader –– he’s ready to go.”
The tournament commences Saturday at 10 a.m. for Round 1, followed by the quarterfinals and consolation rounds. Then action resumes at 6:30 p.m. for the semifinals and further consolation rounds.
The finals will take place at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.