Wrestling: Buckeyes split during weekend road trip

Curt Heinrichs's picture
January 15, 2014 at 4:08p

By Curt Heinrichs

After a layoff of nearly a month, the Buckeyes hit the road and headed west to take on a pair of Big Ten opponents over the weekend. A trio of Buckeyes went 2-0 on the weekend as the team split a pair of close matches against Wisconsin and Illinois.

Ranked #9 in the country heading into the weekend, the Buckeyes went to Madison to take on the #23 ranked Badgers. Kicking off the match was Kenny Courts, who rolled to a 12-4 decision. Nick Heflin suffered his first loss of the season in a sudden victory loss to unranked Timothy McCall. Heflin’s unexpected loss started a string of 4 straight where the Buckeyes were on the short end. Heavyweight Connor Medbery beat Nick Tavanello 8-2 while Ohio native Ryan Taylor pinned Buckeye Nick Roberts in the 1st period at 125 to put the team score to 12-4 in favor of the Badgers. The premier match of the evening didn’t come to fruition as #5 Johnni DiJulius of the Buckeyes was hampered by an injury and didn’t face #7 ranked 3 time All-American Tyler Graff. Graff took it to Kyle Visconti, winning by tech fall 26-11, but only earned his team 4 points because his win didn’t include nearfall points. At the midway point in the match, the Badgers lead the Bucks 16-4.

After a break, Logan Stieber took on fellow international wrestler Jesse Thielke and showed the young Badger padawan a thing or two about collegiate wrestling. Stieber used a takedown and a rapid fire succession of nearfalls to earn a 5 point tech fall by a score of 18-1 in the 1st period. Redshirt senior Ian Paddock kept the Buckeyes in the win column with a 3-2 win and narrowed the margin to 16-12. Ohio native (and Badger legacy) Isaac Jordan edged Randy Languis and Frank Cousins beat Joe Grandominico by decision. The pair of decisions put the match out of reach for the Buckeyes. Mark Martin, ranked #17 heading into the weekend, beat Scott Liegel 4-3 to close out the match. The Badgers defeated the Buckeyes by a final score of 22-15.

With just a few days to regroup, the Buckeyes headed south to Champaign, to take on the #11 ranked Fighting Illini. In his 2nd tough match of the weekend, Nick Roberts took on Illinois’ defending NCAA champ Jesse Delgado at 125 to start the match. Roberts was outmatched against Delgado, but minimized the damage, only surrendering a minor decision. Again filling in for Johnni Dijulius, Kyle Visconti gave up a 4 point tech fall to #13 ranked Zane Richards. Again, since Richards didn’t score any nearfall points, the tech fall was worth only 4 team points as opposed to 5 had he scored backpoints.

After his first loss prior to the break in nearly 2 years, Logan Stieber picked up his 2nd pin of the weekend, decking Dominic Olivieri in the 1st period. At 149 lbs, Ian Paddock picked up his 2nd win of the weekend with a decision win over Caleb Ervin.

The Buckeyes dropped 3 straight decisions between 157 and 174. Randy Languis lost to 15th ranked Zac Brunson at 157, Joe Grandominico dropped a decision to #12 Jackson Morse, and Mark Martin lost in a tie breaker to Tony Dallago (who I’m a little shocked to see is not ranked).

Kenny Courts got Bucks back on track with his 2nd win of the weekend, joining Logan Stieber and Ian Paddock as the only Buckeyes to go undefeated for the weekend. Courts’ 8-1 victory pulled the Buckeyes to within 7 points of the Illini. Fresh off of his first loss of the season, Nick Heflin earned a victory over Jeffrey Koepke by the slimmest of margins (2-1).

With the match on the line, the heavyweights took the mat. The Buckeyes’ hopes lay on the shoulders of Wadsworth HS grad Nick Tavanello, and the big man did not disappoint. With his match against Chris Lopez tied at 1 at the end of regulation, Tavanello scored a takedown in the sudden victory period and won the match for the Buckeyes 18-16 over the home team.

The win gives the Buckeyes an overall dual meet record of 6-2 on the year and they stand at 1-2 in the Big Ten. They’ll have an opportunity to improve on the Big Ten mark as they take on Northwestern in Cincinnati this coming Friday at 7.

For a preview of the Northwestern Wildcats, be sure to check back before Friday.

Thanks as always for reading. Go Bucks.

Comments Show All Comments

fansince1968's picture

Thank you Curt. I really like your detailed wrestling reports & interviews. Go Bucks!

USMC11917's picture

Thanks brother. The victory versus Northwestern should all but be guaranteed. If our guys take care of their business.
How does our depth look like on this team? I think we can get deeper. Any thoughts?
i've watched both Wisconsin and Illinois Wrestle this year. I am surprised that Illinois is ranked higher then the Badgers.

Curt Heinrichs's picture

Nothing in the sport is guaranteed! Minor injuries and illnesses are almost expected at this point in the season (as JDJ and Logan Stieber have found out recently). 
In regards to the team's depth, I'm not sure I understand what you mean. I can see how it could be interpreted in a few different ways. 1) Stieber is a near-lock to reach the podium in March. A few other guys have a good shot to All-American, but after that, there appears to be a significant drop-off. Depth in this case could refer to overall improvement as far as placers are concerned. 
2) Non-starters being ready to jump in on short notice. In this case, it's tough to get backups that are on the elite level with the number of scholarships that are available to wrestling programs. Scholarships have to be divided up among the team and many blue chip prospects coming out of high school don't want to take a partial scholarship and sit on the bench behind an upper classman for a year or two. Unless you are teams like Iowa or Penn State, you may fall on hard times if a starter is injured midseason. 
I hope this helped or maybe answered your question. 

USMC11917's picture

Yeah, point number two is what I was speaking of. I see the elite programs in the B1G, Iowa and Penn State, and when they are wrestling an inferior opponent they put their back up (reserves) in and you see very little drop off. It seems like our back ups have been slightly less than stellar at least in B1G competition. I was wondering if recruiting could be the issue or if development might be the culprit. I know Northwestern is pulling in the best class this year with for or 5 guys at the number one spot in their class. I just have a strong desire to see us at an elite status and potentially change the culture around campus a little. Iowa and Penn ST always represent well. Hate to say it but I want our team to matter as much and to move up in the hierarchy.

Curt Heinrichs's picture

I think you hit it on the head with the word "culture." Schools like Iowa can get kids to go there because they've grown up hearing that is THE school to go to for wrestling, regardless of the coaching staff. If kids want to wrestle for legendary wrestlers, guys like John Smith (Oklahoma State) and Cael Sanderson (Penn State) seem to be getting more recruits than they can handle. 
With some top recruits coming to wrestle for the Buckeyes, a culture could be changing in Columbus, but it takes more than a few years to build and to even hold a candle to that in Iowa or Stillwater. 

USMC11917's picture

Thanks for responding partner.

Scarlet_Lutefisk's picture

In regards to depth for this season you need to remember that there are a number of guys being redshirted who would be competing for All-American status (Hunter Stieber & Josh Demas)  or at the very least potential starters (Bo Jordan & Nathan Tomasello).
So while the depth of the 2013-2014 team isn't where many of us would like it, the long term depth looks much better.
This year the team is not going to compete for the national title but next year the Buckeyes will absolutely make a run at it.
Edit: I should have read all the way through before posting, a good bit of that has already been touched on.

buckeye_heart's picture

Curt, well done again, you always have great write ups. Thanks for these.

DeuceOSU78's picture

Great job Curt!  In response to USMC's quest for depth, we are also red-shirting a couple kids (Stieber, Jordan,.?) that could feasibly be on the podium THIS year if the coaching staff wasn't building for next year.  We also said goodbye to Tasarri (sp?) that left a hole in the middle weights.


USMC11917's picture

Yeah, I was aware of that info but appreciate you sharing it. I have been following the Buckeyes wrestling team more closely since I picked up the B1G network a few years ago. I've noticed that we lack quality at our higher weight classes. Nick Heflin, while a solid contributor, hasn't really impressed me with his style of wrestling. Other than him, I can't tell you the last time we have had a dominant big man. (Mostly because I am new to following the team.)
I just want to be able to compete with Iowa and PSU and make the matches close. I'd love to see identical results to the one we pulled out against Iowa, I think it was the year after Jaegers left. Do you have any information on the recruiting front or can you pint me to the right direction? Know anything about the incoming talent? I am sure I could find some information through Google but it sounds like you might have better insight.

DeuceOSU78's picture

Mike Pucillo, JD Bergman, and Tommy Rowlands are definitely in that category of dominant upper weights, along with possibly Colt Sponseller.


Scarlet_Lutefisk's picture

I've noticed that we lack quality at our higher weight classes. Nick Heflin, while a solid contributor, hasn't really impressed me with his style of wrestling. Other than him, I can't tell you the last time we have had a dominant big man. (Mostly because I am new to following the team.)

Anyone who is a multiple All-American deserves some respect.
That being said the J.D. Bergman is probably the last guy who more closely fits what you're looking for.

Curt Heinrichs's picture

Not just Cam Tessari, but Andrew Campolattano is also not on the team anymore. Josh Demas is redshirting as well.