Preview by Curt Heinrichs
As predicted in my last blog entry, the #5 ranked Buckeye Wrestling team drew the #6 Missouri Tigers in the quarterfinals of the 2nd annual NWCA National Duals. The Buckeyes were granted an automatic bid in the quarterfinals, while the Tigers bumped off a pair of Big Ten teams (Maryland will be a Big Ten team and I just got a bit preemptive) fairly convincingly, beating Maryland and then Purdue in the Regional Finals.
As mentioned previously, the quarterfinal matchup should be a good one, especially for Buckeye fans as the Buckeyes should be favored in a majority of the matches.
At 125 lbs, Buckeye pinning machine Nikko Triggas (#12) will square off against #4 Alan Waters in what could be an important swing match for the Buckeyes. Triggas is already in the OSU record books as one of the most prolific pinners in Buckeye wrestling history and will be looking to tack on more if he is able to slip in an armbar against Waters.
In the next 2 weight classes, the Buckeyes will rely heavily on the Stieber brothers to earn some vital bonus points to put the dual out of reach for Missouri early on. Defending NCAA champion Logan Stieber (#1 in the country in all polls) will likely rematch #4 Nathan McCormick. The elder Stieber brother earned a 12-1 victory over McCormick at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational back in December, and will look to duplicate (or improve on) that performance on Friday.
Younger brother Hunter Stieber will take the mat in the only scheduled match with only 1 ranked wrestler in the dual. #2 ranked Hunter will look to score 5 or 6 bonus points when he takes on Nicholas Hucke of the Tigers.
#12 Cam Tessari will butt heads with #14 Drake Houdashelt for the first time in the 2012-2013 season in what will be a crucial match at 149 lbs. Tessari is a returning All-American for the Buckeyes and is on a roll of late after starting the season inconsistently.
Buckeye Josh Demas (#17) will take on #18 Kyle Bradley at 157 lbs. Demas’ record is a bit deceiving as he has wrestled tough against highly ranked opponents and lost some controversial matches of late.
The 165 lb bout will be the only one contested between the Buckeyes and Missouri featuring 0 currently ranked wrestlers. The Buckeyes will likely trot out St. Edward product Mark Martin to take on Tiger Trevor Wiest.
Returning All-American #6 Nick Heflin will take the mat at 174 lbs against Missouri’s #12 Todd Porter. Heflin has been more aggressive from the neutral position lately, and it will be interesting to see if he continues that against Porter as a way to get his momentum rolling headed into the post-season.
Buckeye senior CJ Magrum (#20) will take on #13 Mike Larson at 184 lbs. Magrum is another Buckeye with a deceiving ranking, having not wrestled the full slate at 184 lbs. A Magrum win wouldn’t necessarily be an upset in this match, and Head Coach Tom Ryan has to feel confident with Magrum on the mat.
Dynamic sophomore Andrew Campolattano has been injured of late and he may or may not return in the National Duals. If Camp is unable to go, the Buckeyes have fill-in #20 Kenny Courts ready to go. Courts has wrestled much of the season at 184, but has proven he is more than capable at 197, knocking off defending Big Ten Champion Mario Gonzales of Illinois in his 1st match at the weight. Courts or Camp will match up with Missouri’s #12 Brent Haynes.
Heavyweight may be the only bout where the Buckeyes are clearly the underdog with #10 Peter Capone squaring off against undefeated #1 ranked Dom Bradley. Capone will look to neutralize the larger Bradley and score on the edge of the mat to earn an upset.
The winner of the OSU/Missouri match will likely face #1 seed Oklahoma State, assuming the Cowboys get past #8 seeded Illinois. The semifinals and finals will take place on Saturday, February 23rd in Minneapolis.
It has been announced that the Big Ten Network will be streaming this bout in its entirety on it’s website. Be sure to check back to Eleven Warriors as I’ll be following the Buckeyes entire run to the NWCA Dual Championship.