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.
By Curt Heinrichs