Preview by Curt Heinrichs
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of 100 battles.” – The Art of War- Sun Tzu
On Friday, the Buckeyes will play host to #7 Nebraska (* all rankings in this preview refer to those updated on Intermat on January 21) in the confines of St. John Arena. For those of us that aren’t able to get tickets, the match will be televised live on Big Ten Network at 7 PM.
The Buckeyes are coming off of a 21-12 win on the road against Northwestern, while the Cornhuskers dropped their match with Iowa a night later by the score of 22-9. Heading into the dual, Nebraska has 6 ranked wrestlers, while the Buckeyes boast 8 of their own in the latest Intermat rankings.
Head Coach- Mark Manning
Manning is in his 13th season at the helm of the Cornhuskers. He’s coached 34 All-Americans and under his tutelage, Jordan Burroughs not only won a pair of NCAA titles, but won an Olympic gold medal as well. Due to his work with Burroughs, Manning was named the 2011 FILA Freestyle Coach of the Year and he also served as an assistant for the US Olympic wrestling team for the London games.
James Green- Green is the newly minted #1 ranked wrestler at 157 lbs, having knocked off defending champ Derek St. John of Iowa on Saturday. Green is a perfect 22-0 on the season and already has a pair of All-American finishes.
Jake Sueflohn- Sueflohn has long been a thorn in the side of Buckeye wrestlers, amassing a 4-2 record against Buckeyes to date. With a victory over Paddock in last year’s Big Ten tournament, he’s got to be feeling confident in a rematch on Friday. Sueflohn is currently ranked #5 and all 3 of his losses come to wrestlers currently ranked in the top 4.
Robert Kokesh- An All-American a year ago, Kokesh has only been beaten this year by NCAA champ Andrew Howe of Oklahoma by a point. Kokesh is one of those wrestlers that is equally comfortable winning a match by 12 or squeaking out a match by 1 point.
Destin McCauley- McCauley was one of the biggest recruits in the country and message boards were afire with fans predicting the outcome would he eventually wrestle Logan Stieber. The match never came to fruition and it is rumored that McCauley is now wrestling at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs in pursuit of gold in Rio.
Ohioans on the Roster:
None, although Nyle Bartling spent a year on the Ohio State roster. Bartling is currently the backup heavyweight for the Cornhuskers.
Matches to Watch:
All of them if you’re in the building or if you get Big Ten Network. A word to the wise if you’re planning on watching on BTN: set your DVR to record longer than the 2 hours they typically allot for wrestling duals. Most of the time, dual meets on BTN run long and you don’t get to see the final few matches.
125 lbs- #16 Nick Roberts vs #9 Tim Lambert
Roberts owns a 5-4 decision over Lambert from earlier in the season. Lambert lost a tough 2-1 decision to Iowa’s Thomas Gilman, so he’ll be looking to bounce back in this one. Another win over Lambert would not only bump Roberts up in next week’s rankings, but it would also give him the edge in seeding at the Big Ten Tournament in March.
133 lbs- #5 Johnni DiJulius vs Shawn Nagel
Bonus points from JDJ would be huge for the Buckeyes.
141 lbs- #3 Logan Stieber vs Colton McCrystal
Read my preview of 133 lbs and repeat.
149 lbs- #18 Ian Paddock vs #5 Jake Sueflohn
As mentioned earlier, Paddock will be looking for revenge against Sueflohn and seeding in the all-important Big Ten Tournament in March.
157 lbs- Randy Languis vs #1 James Green
Languis will have to do damage control against the #1 wrestler in the country. Green knocked off DSJ of Iowa last week, but the turning point was a takedown late in the 1st period. Languis will need to wrestle until the whistle if he wants to keep the match tight against Green.
165 lbs- Joe Grandominico vs Austin Wilson
This match between unranked wrestlers could be critical in the team score with neither wrestler owning a clear advantage on paper.
174 lbs- #14 Mark Martin vs #4 Robert Kokesh
Martin jumped Lee Munster of Northwestern with his upset last weekend and faces a stiffer test this weekend in Kokesh. Kokesh is riding a 10 match winning streak.
184 lbs- #8 Kenny Courts vs #11 TJ Dudley
Dudley was knocked off by unranked Sammy Brooks of Iowa last weekend, putting an end to his 3 match winning streak. Dudley owns a win over Courts earlier in the season, which is one of Kenny’s 3 losses to date. Big Ten seeding will be on the line in this one.
197 lbs- #8 Nick Heflin vs #20 Caleb Kolb
Kolb has just 4 matches under his belt to this point in the season. After opening up the offense in his last match, it’ll be fun to see if Heflin keeps it going here, especially with team points on the line.
Heavyweight- Nick Tavanello vs Collin Jensen
Again, a pair of unranked heavyweights will meet up, possibly with the match on the line. Tav is no stranger to this situation, having won the Illinois match for the Buckeyes in a similar situation. Both big men have similar records, so this one really could be a toss up.
Thanks as always for reading my preview. Enjoy the match, whether it be in person or on TV. Be sure to check back after Friday night’s match for my 2 cents on the outcome.