Wrestling: Quotes from the Ohio State-Virginia Tech Dual

Curt Heinrichs's picture
February 26, 2014 at 10:38 pm

Interviews by Curt Heinrichs

Head Coach Tom Ryan

Ryan on the Buckeyes’ win at home vs Virginia Tech- “I think Johnni DiJulius getting the fall was huge for us in firing up the team. In the 125 lb match, we didn’t get the effort that we were looking for and the energy level we needed to inspire the team. Obviously, Logan (Stieber) is always workmanlike, but having guys that were willing to fill in the lineup saved us some points. Visconti and Fox and of course Heflin’s pin put the pressure on the Virginia Tech heavyweight and he needed a major decision to get the win for the team. I think stuff like that really plays on people’s minds. That really helped us in the end.

Ryan on guys stepping into the lineup and helping the team- “It’s a brutal sport and a brutal season. You never know when guys are going to get dinged up. We talk a lot about gap soldiers with the team. A gap soldier is someone back in olden times who protected the castle. If there was a break in the wall, the gap soldier’s responsibility was to protect the wall from the outside so that people couldn’t get inside. The thing about gap soldiers is that while they were outside, other soldiers were closing in the wall, so a gap soldier knew their fate. The soldiers did their job regardless of what they were up against. We had 2 gap soldiers today in Visconti and Fox. They did a nice job helping the team today.”

Ryan on senior Ian Paddock’s absence from the lineup on senior day- “Ian will be back. It was way too risky to wrestle him today. It was way too risky to put him out there after he hasn’t wrestled all week. He wasn’t able to go today, but he’ll be ready to go soon.”

Ryan on Kenny Courts’ injury that kept him out of the lineup- “Kenny had a knee injury and wasn’t able to wrestle today, but he’ll be back for the conference tournament.”

Ryan on Joe Grandominico and his contributions to the program- “I named him ‘Iron Joe’ for a reason. Joe is an absolute warrior. Any successful organization needs a guy like him. He’s the kind of guy that will represent you with everything he’s got. He’s got a 3.7 GPA and he’s going to be wildly successful in the future and he’s just a guy you cheer for.”

Ryan on Nick Heflin’s offensive surge of late- “I think the reality that the one thing you can’t get back is time is hitting Nick right now. He’s one month away from ending a great career, which started with the ultimate goal of becoming a national champion. He has placed twice, but he hasn’t reached the goal that he wants to reach. Nick is feeling good at the weight and is starting to separate himself from the pack. Some guys get weaker at this point in the year with a tough weight cut, but Nick is getting stronger. He’s focused and hungry to become a national champion this year and it’s fun to watch.”

Ryan on the match coming down to Nick Tavanello yet again- “Nick was the most successful big school high school wrestler in Ohio based on credentials. He comes to Ohio State and when you wrestle with people that are better than you, it can put a lot of guys into a tailspin. For Nick, the most important thing is to believe in himself and to remove all fear. A man who has no fear is dangerous. We need Nick to think that way and tonight was a look at that.”


Senior Nick Heflin

On his last match at St. John Arena- “There wasn’t as much pressure for myself in my last match as much as for the team. The team was down and we needed something big. I was happy and thankful that I was able to get us going.”

On his offensive output of late- “The coaching staff has been molding me for this. We choose a college based on the coaching staff and they mold us to be the wrestler that they know we can be. I’m not cutting a lot of weight, so I show up and I wrestle. Knowing that you have the extra energy to give is a big advantage for me because I don’t have to worry about the cut and that’s helped me a lot. I was not built to be a 174 lber last year. I was a big 184 lber last year. The difference this year is that I have the extra energy. If I’m not cutting weight, I’ll have the nutrition to keep my body running strong.”

On his confidence in handing the match off to Nick Tavanello- “I feel confident in all of my teammates. We train together, but we’re more than teammates. We’re like brothers. I trust one just as much as the other. Big guys, small guys, they’re brothers to me and I have all of the confidence in the world in all of them.´

On the match that stands out the most in his career- “(Immediately) Iowa. When we beat Iowa, that is my all-time favorite to none. Even if I win a national title, that’ll be the one that stands out to me. It took a whole team effort, and we made it happen.”

On those who helped him succeed throughout his career- “Who do I not thank? I have to thank my family, my coaches, my high school coaches. If it wasn’t for all of the support that I’ve had in my career, I would not be here. I am not that strong of a person, not that good of a wrestler to be here without the people who were behind me.”


Heavyweight Nick Tananello

On feeding off of the pressure of a match riding on him- “I try not to think about it, but it happens. I try to feed off of that and not let it get me nervous. I want to turn that negative energy into positive energy.”

On being one of the smaller heavyweights in the Big Ten- “I try to use my quickness to my advantage. The Big Ten is one of the tougher conferences with something like 7 out of the top 10 guys in the country from the Big Ten. I just have to show up and be ready to wrestle each time out.”

On his previous victory over Ty Walz in the OHSAA state finals- “We’re both at the collegiate level, and we’ve both gotten better. Looking back on that earlier victory gives me some confidence, but he’s a tough competitor. I have to give him a lot of credit. He didn’t start until he was in high school and I’d say he’s doing pretty well.”


Senior 165 lber Joe Grandominico

On increased confidence as the season progresses- “It all comes down to nerves. There are so many big matches at this point in the season. The Big Ten is a tough conference and being in the big matches each week help me to get ready for what’s next.”

On wrestling his college matches near home- “It’s been everything to me. Being so close to Olentangy Local and to come to Ohio State is great. I wasn’t planning on wrestling in college, but coming to Ohio State and getting picked up by the program was amazing. Becoming a starter in my senior year has been a great experience.”

On his favorite match as a Buckeye- “Careerwise, my favorite match to talk about is in my sophomore year. I stepped in at 174 against Iowa against a really tough wrestler. I was able to wrestle a ranked guy really tough and we won against Iowa, which was a long time in the making.”

On thanking his supporters- “My family has been very supportive for my whole career. I am thankful for my drill partners. I think every year that I’ve been with the program, I’ve been partners with Randy Languis. I am so thankful for all of my friends and family for all of their support.”


The Buckeyes will take some time off before competing in the Big Ten Championships in Madison, Wisconsin next weekend.