“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of 100 battles.” – The Art of War- Sun Tzu
Rage Against The Machine had a similar sentiment (not exactly, but I grew up in the 90’s and remain a strong supporter of RATM) on their song “Know Your Enemy.”
While the SEC may lay claim to the powerhouse conference of the college football world, the Big Ten has a stronghold on the NCAA Wrestling Championship with a Big Ten team winning 15 of the last 20 titles. Even more impressive is that a Big Ten school has earned the runner-up spot 11 of those 20 years and Big Ten schools have earned both of the top spots in 6 of the last 20 years. In the toughest conference in collegiate wrestling, it’s important to follow the advice of Sun Tzu (and Zach De La Rocha), and “know your enemy.”
Clarion Open- November 3rd
The wrestling Buckeyes will kick off their season at the Clarion Open on November 3rd. The Buckeyes did not wrestle in this tournament a year ago, and from the looks of it, this will be contested by non-starters.
Michigan State Open- November 9th
Once again, the Buckeyes will wrestle at the Michigan State Open, which features both a Freshman/Sophomore division as well as an open division. This tournament offers young wrestlers a chance to get mat time without burning up a redshirt. If a wrestler competes in open tournaments “unattached,” it essentially means that they are not competing for their school. At last year’s Michigan State Open, the Buckeyes fared well, finishing with 5 Champions and 3 2nd Place finishes. This may be the 1st time guys like Bo Jordan or Nathan Tomasello step onto the mat in a Buckeye singlet against significant competition, so this will be one to keep an eye on.
Notre Dame College (Ohio)- November 15th in Columbus
Head Coach- Frank Romano. Also on staff are former Purdue wrestler Akif Eren and Iowa State Cyclone Sonny Marchette. Marchette was one of the greatest high school wrestlers in the history of Ohio, but was derailed by injuries.
Notable Wrestlers- In just the program’s 8th season, Romano has brought in some serious success to the eastern suburbs of Cleveland. Joey Davis (165 lbs) and Eric Burgey (174 lbs) each won NCAA Division II National Titles last season in the program’s first year at D-II. Davis was just a freshman, but the NDC website has conflicting information about Burgey’s eligibility. Burgey either returns as a Senior, or is out of eligibility. Also returning are All-Americans Brandonn Johnson (197 lbs) and Maurice Miller (141 lbs). Other notables include Tank Knowles (197 lbs) and Kyle Koziel of Brandon, Florida (famous for being chronicled on an ESPN documentary a few years ago for their unbelievable dual meet winning streak).
Ohioans on the Notre Dame roster
Michael Baker (Twinsburg), Cisco Inchaurregui (Lorain Southview), Louden Gordon (Wadsworth), Garret Linton (Rootstown), Paul Rose (Cambridge). To list all of the Ohioans on the NDC team would be overkill as the Falcons’ roster is chock full of Ohio natives. I’ve simply noted the wrestlers that I recall from past State Tournaments.
Joey Davis (NDC) vs ??? (OSU) at 165. A returning National Champion as a freshman, Davis has opened some eyes. When Tom Ryan mentioned a 165er needing to step up, this would be a great proving ground for that to happen.
Maurice Miller (NDC) vs Logan Stieber at 141 lbs. Miller is a returning D-II All-American, but will be simply asked to stay off of his back against the bar/half combination of Stiber, who is a 2 time NCAA Champion.
Brandonn Johnson (NDC) vs Nick Heflin at 197. This will likely be the first time that we get a look at Heflin, a 2 time NCAA All-American, in his new weight class.
At Duke – November 23rd
A year ago, Duke showed great improvement under 1st year head coach Glen Lanham. Despite their improvement, Duke finished 6th (of 6) at the ACC tournament. The Buckeyes are taking on the Blue Devils on Tobacco Road during a road trip which will also see the Buckeyes wrestling at Davidson later in the week.
Glen Lanham is in his 2nd year at the helm for Duke. Lanham has previously coached at Purdue and Oklahoma State as an assistant at each school. Prior to coaching, Lanham was an All-American for Oklahoma State and Tennessee. Assisting Lanham are Will Rowe (Oklahoma) and Ben Kissel (Purdue).
Brandon Gambucci (133) and Conner Hartmann (197) each earned berths to the NCAA tournament a year ago. Immanuel Kerr-Brown (149) did not earn a chance to wrestle at the NCAA tournament last year, but has been highly ranked and creates some buzz from time to time.
Ohioans on the Duke Roster:
Gambucci, Jake Faust (149), Cal Campbell (125), and Jacob Kasper (197) are all from Lexington High School. Andrew DeHart hails from Covington. Alex Belaia-Martiniouk wrestled for North Olmsted.
Matches to watch:
Gambucci (Duke) vs Johnni DiJulius (OSU) at 133 lbs. DiJulius was a 3 time Ohio State champion in high school, while Gambucci placed a number of times, as high as 2nd. With each being previous NCAA qualifiers, this should be one of the best matchups in the dual meet.
Kerr-Brown (Duke) vs Ian Paddock (OSU) at 149 lbs.
Hartmann (Duke) vs Nick Heflin (OSU) at 197 lbs. This could be the first real test for Heflin at 197, a new weight class for him. While Coach Ryan has indicated that the Buckeye staff would like to see Heflin on the offensive more often, he has seemed reluctant to open up with the leg attacks. This could be the match where Heflin looks to put some points on the scoreboard against a credible opponent.