Wrestling: Buckeyes lose big on the road to open Big Ten season

Curt Heinrichs's picture
December 17, 2013 at 9:27p

Recap by Curt Heinrichs


In their trip to Happy Valley, the Ohio State wrestling team took on the toughest team in the nation, let alone the Big Ten, and came up short in an upset bid. When I say they came up short, I mean way short. While the Buckeyes faced a daunting task in wrestling the #2 team (at the time) on the road, they were unable to build any momentum at all and lost by a score of 31-6. While the team deficit was surprising, a fact that was downright eye-opening to me was that 2 time defending NCAA champ Logan Stieber was not one of the two Buckeyes earning victories on the day. With a lackluster outing, the Buckeyes were only able to muster a pair of wins from Johnni DiJulius and Nick Heflin. While the Buckeyes wrestled hard on the feet, the Nittany Lions were able to dominate the mat wrestling, amassing huge chunks of riding time throughout the day.


Kicking off the day at 125 lbs, Nick Roberts looked to knock off NCAA finalist Nico Megaludis of the Nittany Lions, but was unable to put any offense together against the junior. Megaludis started slowly and really started to rack up the points starting in the 2nd period with backpoints and managed to earn 5 team points for Penn State with a 21-4 tech fall.

At 133 lbs, DiJulius picked up where he left off last week when he was the Big Ten Wrestler of the Week by earning a 3-2 decision over a game Jimmy Gulibon. The match was tied at the end of regulation, but DiJulius earned a point with a net riding time of over 1 minute.

Stieber dropped a sudden victory decision to true freshman Zain Retherford. Unable to get out from the bottom, Stieber conceded a riding point to Retherford to send the match into sudden victory, where Retherford was able to score a late takedown and steal the victory.

Ian Paddock took the mat for the Buckeyes at 149 lbs, but dropped a 5-3 decision against unranked Zack Beitz, who will likely be relegated to the bench when Andrew Alton returns from a shoulder injury.

Randy Languis was unable to prevent the takedown against unranked James Vollrath and dropped an 11-5 decision. Heading into the midway point of the match, the Buckeyes trailed 14-3 with the star-studded Nittany Lions yet to wrestle.

Everyone’s All-American David Taylor scored early and often against Joe Grandominico and earned his 3rd tech fall of the season to stay undefeated.

An NCAA runner-up a year ago, Penn State’s Matt Brown muscled his way to a major decision over Mark Martin of the Buckeyes.

Ed Ruth showed no signs of rust in his first match back from suspension as he took out Kenny Courts by the score of 14-3.

Two-time All American Nick Heflin was able to earn the 2nd victory for the Scarlet and Gray with a 3-1 victory over Wesley Phipps, who was filling in for a banged-up Morgan McIntosh. Phipps is a quality wrestler who would start for many teams across the country. Heflin, as is his custom, kept the score close and found a way to edge his opponent.

Heavyweight Jimmy Lawson kept the scoreboard operator alert with a 15-4 victory over Buckeye Nick Tavanello. In a weight class that typically doesn’t see a great deal of scoring, the athletic Lawson appears to have found his groove and could be a force in the Big Ten this season.

While the Buckeyes did not have great results by any stretch of the imagination, they’ll have a shot at redemption when they take on Kent State on the road this Thursday. I’ll have a preview of the bout in the coming days.

Thanks as always for reading.

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USMC11917's picture

Hey Curt, I posted this on the other link to the match but I will copy and paste this to this one in an attempt to find someone who likes to talk about wrestling and has interest in the sport.
This had to be one of the most disheartening events I have ever witnessed from the Buckeyes. I swear it was like watching Florida in 06 but on the wrestling front. Yes, it was that bad. I saw a very whipped team. Seriously, psychologically defeated before the first whistle blew. We're good but we are barely top ten good. Not on the same level as Iowa and Penn State. Damn Penn State is a beast. Their unranked alternates handled a few of our ranked guys. I am afraid if I get any more descriptive that I will same some things that would make others question my fandom. This is a question to those that are more knowledgeable of Coach Ryan and his staff; are they able to take us to the top?

Curt Heinrichs's picture

Great question. I do believe that Coach Ryan is more than capable of taking the Buckeyes to an NCAA title. I'll give you a more in-depth answer later, but for now, the short answer is: yes. 

Curt Heinrichs's picture

I'd certainly agree with the disheartening opinion and I was at the 2006 NC game against Florida, so ouch. Guys would get taken down and not be able to work up off of the bottom. I understand that Penn State has a ton of talent and should cruise to a national title, but it seemed like the wind was taken out of the sails once Stieber lost. Long bus ride? Finals sapping some of the energy of the wrestlers? Whatever the reason, the Big Ten is not going to get any easier for these Buckeyes. Wrestling is a physical sport that demands hours of preparation for 7 minutes of action. If a wrestler's head or heart isn't into it, the results can be ugly as we found out on Sunday. 
In response to your question about Coach Ryan and his staff: I do believe that this staff is the right one for the job. Off the mat, Coach Ryan is a character-first kind of guy. While some programs may have let it slide when a starter violated team rules prior to the Big Ten tournament, Coach Ryan suspended the wrestler in question and dismissed another starter from last year's team. That shows me that he's just as interested in shaping these guys' lives off the mat as he is on the mat. That is a rarity in the world of competitive sports and I really appreciate it. 
Coach Ryan is an outstanding recruiter and has taken a team that used to get an All-American finish every few years and turned it into a team that has multiple AA's each season. Building the culture of winning is only going to help Coach Ryan on the recruiting trail, especially as the success on the mat continues down the road. 
If you look at the top programs around the country, they tend to have in-roads with some of the top high schools around the country. The Buckeyes have recently nabbed the Jordans from Graham and the Palmers and Mark Martin from St. Ed's. If kids at those schools realize that they can stay close to home and wrestle for a top program, that'll only help matters. 
Having Coach Lou Rosselli (a multiple time coach for US Olympic freestyle teams and a mainstay on the US International coaching staff) on staff is huge because he'll draw in some of the top freestylers in the country like Kyle Snyder. When kids have dreams of Olympic medals and a clear plan as to how to achieve those dreams, you're going to see an improvement on the folkstyle mat as the caliber of wrestlers in the practice room improves. 
J Jaggers is a 2 time NCAA champ, but was never really lauded as a dominant force heading into March. Jaggers can not only teach funk wrestling (there are varied opinions as to whether or not this can be taught or whether it's inherent), but he can mentor guys on how to perform at their best when the stakes are highest. 
While I must admit that I was disappointed in the results on Sunday, it's important to remember that this is a very green team. Roberts, Languis, Grandominico, and Tavanello are all getting their first taste of what it takes to be a fixture in the starting lineup. The ship has not yet sailed on this team and I'm expecting big things from them, not just in the future, but this season as well. 
My final reason that Coach Ryan is the right man for the job is that he coached a UFC champion in Chris Weidman at Hofstra. Weidman knocked Anderson Silva out cold. Any questions? 

USMC11917's picture

I like everything you said and agree with most. I don't see a problem with recruiting talent but the development doesn't look to be taking hold as fast as what Cael is doing at PSU. I only started following College Wrestling three years ago once I picked up the B1G network. I won't pretend to know a lot about various teams but I have noticed a clear separation between the top two teams and everyone else. There is a distinct three tier separation in the B1G right now.
PSU/Iowa to a lesser extent Minnesota (although I have read otherwise this year) at the top
Ohio State/Wisc/Nebraska/Illinois/*ichigan (Teetering)
Scrubs** (Yeah calling you out *ichigan State and the rest)
I guess the thing that bothers me the most is that Ohio Is one of the richest states for high school talent in the nation. Correct me if I am wrong. I know Pennsylvania is great as well as Jersey and California isn't too bad. We should be stacked with top flight talent. What do I know...I was only a district level wrestler when I was in school. Funny how many state champions from the SEC area I demolished in the corps. The only that gave me continual losses was a guy from Pennsylvania.
Oh, btw, Weidman is a stud no doubt. I am a firm believer Silva had more to do with getting knocked out than Weidman. I am not a Silva apologist either. I don't like the guy or his attitude.
Edit* O btw, I really appreciate the feedback! Thanks for what you do.

Buckeye in Illini country's picture

I DVR'd the match, but saw a glimpse of the match halfway through live and saw that Stieber and several other Buckeyes had lost; I decided not to put myself through the misery of seeing Buckeyes lose.
I will be watching when they come to Champaign on January 12.

Columbus to Pasadena: 35 hours.  "We're on a road trip through the desert looking for strippers and cocaine... and Rose Bowl wins!"

Toilrt Paper's picture

Ryan told us he wouldn't be very good this year when he redshirted in hopes of a future title.