Recap by Curt Heinrichs
In their first home action in over 2 months, the Buckeyes fell flat against visiting Nebraska, losing a 28-12 decision. Only 3 Buckeyes got their hands raised on Friday night, led by the reliable Nick Heflin, Johnni DiJulius, and Logan Stieber. Bonus points turned out to be the kiss of death for the Buckeyes with the Cornhuskers earning more bonus points than the Buckeyes had as a team (16 bonus points for Nebraska vs 12 for the Bucks).
Leading the Buckeyes into action was redshirt freshman Nick Roberts. Roberts used 2 first period takedowns to jump out to a 4-1 lead at the end of the 1st 3 minutes. Early in the 2nd, Tim Lambert turned the tide and stuck Roberts to give Nebraska a 6-0 lead out of the chute. Roberts falls to 20-8 on the season with the loss.
Next up for the Buckeyes was Johnni DiJulius, who took on the Cornhuskers’ Shawn Nagel. Nagel put up quite a fight and JDJ was unable to provide his team with bonus points (that would not have made a difference in the final score). With each wrestler notching an escape, the difference was DiJulius’ riding time advantage, which at over 1 net minute, gave him a point at the end of the match. Dijulius improves to 18-1 on the campaign.
Keeping the winning trend in favor of the Buckeyes was redshirt junior Logan Stieber. Stieber made short work of Nebraska’s Colton McCrystal, decking the Cornhusker with nearly 40 seconds remaining in the 1st period. The fall was Stieber’s 7th of the season and gave the Buckeyes their only lead of the day at 9-6.
The first 5 minutes between Ian Paddock and Jake Sueflohn were incredibly even with each wrestler scoring 4 on the back of a takedown apiece (Paddock also had 2 escapes while Sueflohn had a reversal), but Sueflohn caught fire in the 3rd period, tacking on a 2nd reversal and a pair of nearfall points to go with his riding point at the match’s conclusion to take the bout 9-4 over Paddock. The 3 time NCAA qualifier has now dropped 2 straight.
Facing the newly minted #1 wrestler in the country, Randy Languis knew that the odds were against him when he took on James Green at 157 lbs. Green scored early and often with a number of takedowns. Languis fought hard and managed to only concede a major decision, which at that point was crucial in the team score, which at this point favored Nebraska 13-9.
Joe Grandominico took on Austin Wilson at 165 lbs in a bout that I thought could be a key swing bout in the team score. The Buckeye was unable to mount any offensive attack, dropping a 6-0 decision.
Mark Martin looked for yet another Big Ten upset when he took on #4 Robert Kokesh at 174 lbs, but Kokesh didn’t succumb to Martin like Northwestern’s Lee Munster. With the score knotted at 0 after 1, Kokesh rode Martin throughout the 2nd period, all but guaranteeing Martin would need some fireworks to score the upset. Martin was unable to hold Kokesh down in the 3rd and ultimately gave up 2 takedowns to the Cornhusker en route to a 6-2 loss.
In another match that I’d highlighted as crucial in the team category, Kenny Courts put his #8 ranking on the line against #11 TJ Dudley. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, Dudley got the upper hand with a first period pin. The loss was just the 4th suffered by Courts this season and his 2nd to Dudley. At this point in the match, the Huskers locked up the dual with an insurmountable 25-9 score with just 2 matches remaining.
After watching Courts lose to a lower-ranked opponent, #8 Nick Heflin was not about to fall prey to the same fate. Heflin edged #20 Caleb Kolb with a dramatic takedown in the Sudden Victory 1 period (SV1 is when wrestlers start in the neutral position and the 1st points scored in the minute end the match). The win is Heflin’s 5th of the year over a Big Ten foe.
Heavyweight Nick Tavanello struck early against Collin Jensen, racking up 4 points in the 1st period. 4 points would be all that Tav could muster as Jensen got on a roll in the 2nd and 3rd periods. Jensen took the 10-4 decision and put a stamp on the dual, with the visiting Huskers getting the nod 28-12.
The Buckeyes move to 2-3 in the conference, while the Huskers move up to 3-1 in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes will get the opportunity to bounce back on Alumni Night when they host Michigan on Friday night in St. John Arena. The Cornhuskers took on Purdue (and won 28-9) on Sunday to improve to 4-1 in the Big Ten.
Thank you as always for reading. Go Bucks.