A Golden Age: Ohio State Has Solidified Its Place As An Elite Wrestling Program

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buckeyestu's picture

I am looking forward to next year. I have a feeling there is a national title coming.

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Hovenaut's picture

Great snapshot of where the program has been, is now, and where it will be going (and as measured against the reigning champs).

Not only a bonus recap of this past season, but this will also be good to circle back to ahead of the next.

Excellent reads again, AV.

I had to run away high, so I wouldn't come home low...

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rotsbu's picture

Excellent article as usual, Andy.  Your commitment to following OSU wrestling is quickly taking me from causal observer to very interested.

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CasualObserver's picture

So you think you're better than me now.

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3ydncloudofdust's picture

Mandelbaum, Mandelbaum, Mandelbaum....it’s Go time!

"Three things can happen when you pass the ball, and two of them are bad." - Woody

 

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ChazBuckeye's picture

PSU's wrestling team has been unreal over the last 8 years. I'd be extremely surprised if OSU can vest them next year. OSU will have to send at least half the team to the finals, as PSU does on a yearly basis (which is crazy). As a former HS wrestler, my lil DIII team was lucky to send 3 to state, let alone 5 or more as PSU does seemingly every year!

It is time!!!!!

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IGotAWoody's picture

I'd be extremely surprised if OSU can vest them next year.

“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” – Theodore Roosevelt

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johnniebuckeye1's picture

Andy, excellent recap.  Thanks for your continued commitment to the wrestling program.  The new wrestling facility will officially open on May 24, unofficially before.  It is already paying dividends around recruiting.  Myles & Joey will continue their careers at the ORTC.   That only helps our recruiting.  Some of the top recruits in the country for 2020 & 2021 are seriously considering us.  Who wouldn't? The starting line-up will be in flux next year.  We will have to wait until the fall to see which redshirts come off the incoming freshmen.  Carson & Kerkvliet might be too good to keep out of the line up.  The future is very bright for the program.  We have clearly separated ourselves minus Penn State for now from the other programs in the country.   We will be in the hunt next year.  We have a plethora of young talent that will be on the podium next year and that includes Malik at 125.  

JohnnieBuckeye1

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RunEddieRun1983's picture

As someone who just really got on the radar with the wrestling team over the last couple years (thanks Kyle Snyder) these articles are invaluable to me as I make up for lost time. 

Its great to have another sport to look forward too after football ends. 

Urban Meyer left an incredible legacy. 12/4/18 Ryan Day begins his.

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MDBuckeye2002's picture

Great write up AV. Thanks for your coverage here and tweets all weekend at the tourney. I feel like 2021-2022 or even 22'-23' will be when the Bucks really put pressure on PSU to win it all. Next year won't be bad by any msans though.

"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."

Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987

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3ydncloudofdust's picture

Love wrestling and love Andy’s coverage. Perhaps not enough glamour for some, but definitely something to be said for Mano a Mano. Definitely excited about the program and the future. That said, Cael and PSU are a literal buzzsaw. Herculean effort doesn’t scratch the surface. 

"Three things can happen when you pass the ball, and two of them are bad." - Woody

 

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CasualObserver's picture

Keep an eye out for Iowa. You can pencil then for more points next year. They lose 2 of their 76 points from Sam Stoll next year. Cassiopi will get more points than him and they get 2x AA Michael Kemerer back next year.

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ROCK1's picture

Jacob Decatur is too small to ever wrestle 125. Jordan Decatur needs to be at 125 next season, then go to 133 after Pletcher graduates.

ROCK1

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bdhof's picture

I think he's probably two years away, but Heinselman may be tough to bump out of the lineup. I thought he was too small this year, but after a year in the weight room, I think he'll be a solid 125 next year, and will hopefully get on the podium.

bdhof

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Sampson8080's picture

I'd like to see Jordan redshirt and be ready to compete in 2020.

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Buckeyefan4742's picture

Future is bright! Love the wrestling program

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CasualObserver's picture

I think the best chances of beating Penn State would be a group effort. It might be the first time in a since probably 2015 Penn State hasn't started the season with a #1 wrestler. Obviously that's different of Cassar comes back. But wherever beats them will need help from other schools to keep the top of the scoreboard even.

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bdhof's picture

First off, great NCAA coverage, Andy. No one covers the Buckeye wrestlers like you. Next year will be a strange one to predict. It's an Olympic year, so some wrestlers may choose to take an Olympic redshirt (RS). You have to qualify for this, but Kollin Moore and Hoffman are eligible even tho they have already taken a normal RS. All the top teams have guys like this that may or may not take an Olympic RS next year. Snyder broke the mold in 2016 and wrestled only 6 matches during the regular season prior to B10s. Instead, he was traveling the world beating the best in the world. He is the first NCAA wrestler that did this. The question is, will others follow his lead.

The other big issue is the 6th year factor. Normally there's a guy here or there spread out across the country that qualifies for a 6th year due to the loss of 2 years of wrestling b/c of injuries. Not a lot of these are granted, but 3 AAs got them this year, including NCAA  champ  Ashnault. PSU has three that are applying for a 6th year for next season, NCAA champ Cassar, 2018 AA Rasheed and transfer Conel (from Kent St), an AA in 2018. If they get those three 6th year guys, to go along with former NCAA champs Hall and Joseph, and AAs RBY and Lee, no one's going to beat them next year. 

The question is, what will tOSU do with RSs. Will they sit a bunch of guys? The list of guys eligible for either a normal RS or Olympic RS includes Heinselman, Pletcher, Hoffman, Moore, plus all incoming freshmen. Others could qualify this summer, So does tOSU sit a bunch and look to 2021 or go for broke and put the best team on the mat (Kharch, Kerk, etc)?

I don't think PSU looks beatable w/ 3 6th year guys. But in 2021 they come back to the field (tOSU, OKST and IOWA). And this year's recruiting class, Kharch, Kerk and Jordan Decatur, along with this year's group of Heinselman, Sasso and Hoffman will set the table for titles once again. These guys remind me of freshmen like NaTo, Bo and Snyder. There is a bright future as a Buckeye fan.

bdhof

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bdhof's picture

And I'm sorry this was so long. I've been absent for a while and needed to vent. 

bdhof

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Andy Vance's picture

The 6th-year thing with Penn State is really interesting, and I think folks are pretty much taking it for granted that they'll all be back. I'm wondering where Conel fits in the lineup; I guess I've been presuming he steps in at 197 and Rasheed drops down to 184 with Nickal's graduation, and if that's the case you're right it makes them the prohibitive favorite again with past or returning champs in Joseph, Hall and Cassar.

On Ohio State's redshirts there was some discussion prior to the season if you'd see McKenna, Myles, Luke, and Kollin take redshirts for the same reason. The fact that they didn't leads me to think it's more likely that you field the best team - Ohio State has enough guys coming in and will continue recruiting at a high level that you always try to finish in the Top 3 and forego the year of stockpiling resources for next year. You could argue, though, that Sanderson's roster management is part of the reason they've had this multi-year run, so maybe Ohio State has to look at playing that same game with redshirts and a down year.

Sasso and Hoffman are definitely guys who remind me of NaTo, Bo and Snyder, and if you throw Kharch, Kerk and/or Decatur in the mix? Lot of talent on the roster there.

Good post, BD, as always.

CasualObserver's picture

I think the NCAA is just getting a lot more lenient about granting eligibility anymore. Seth Gross is likely getting a 6th year at Wisconsin.

Also Re: Penn State's roster management. You hit the nail on the head. In 2015, they had just lost David Taylor and Ed Ruth. Zain Retherford had just made his freshman debut and Nico Megaludis had two silvers and a bronze at NCAAs, but they both took a red shirt with Jason Nolf and Bo Nickal.

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Buxki84's picture

Thanks for adding to Andy's fine article. For instance, I had no idea Kyle Conel was transferring to Penn St. He's one strong guy.

I'd rather be a minute early than an hour early, 'cause I like to procrastinate.

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CasualObserver's picture

Not sure how likely it is that Conel will start. He might just be using an opportunity to grad transfer so he can go out with a bang. But there's a great chance Michael Beard can be an AA as a true freshman.

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Sampson8080's picture

There was some noise about Greg Kerkvliet going 197 in the future. Given how tall he is, would that even be possible? 

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Andy Vance's picture

I saw him after the finals. Man, he's going to be a monster; color me skeptical about 197.

ROCK1's picture

He will be 240 as a freshman.

ROCK1

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CasualObserver's picture

Also with regard to Hoffman. Think he'll be able to stay at 184 about year? He doesn't the last two years of high school at 195 and wrestled WNO at 220 if I'm not mistaken.

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Buck61's picture

is he a catch and release type of guy like synder or a mauler?

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Andy Vance's picture

Here's a video from last year's matchup between Kerk and Minnesota freshman phenom Gable Steveson, so you can get an idea of their relative styles.

Knarcisi's picture

He’s quick for a HWT. If he’s 220 there, with that frame, add 25-30 pounds so he can finish some of those shots.

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Andy Vance's picture

Bingo. He's big time.

Andy Vance's picture

Everybody's a critic.

Buckeyefan20's picture

I keep reading that PSU might redshirt most of their guys next year and that Iowa is the odds-on favorite should that occur.  Can we beat Iowa next year?

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Buxki84's picture

I have a question for anybody reading this. Assuming nobody redshirts (including incoming freshmen), and we see some improvement from the guys already on the roster, what weight class or classes do you forsee being our primary weak spots?

I'd rather be a minute early than an hour early, 'cause I like to procrastinate.

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Buck61's picture

please find a fix at 157 and 165, over the three years noted, PSU has 76 points at 157, OSU 14. At 165, PSU has 72, OSU has 5.5. Of course this includes Nolf, but minimal points in those two weights has been brutal.

It is going to take more than five guys scoring team points to challenge PSU if winning it all is the goal is the big trophy. Next year we should get Iowa and Minnesota back on the dual meet schedule.

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BuckeyeRy4's picture

Andy, thanks! A comprehensive review, look at incoming talent, and that way-too-early lineup projection for next year! Just what I wanted!

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yepiwentthere's picture

In a sport that has struggled so much in the last few decades, super teams are not good for the sport. Part of the reason that few communities get into wrestling is because few have had success. Thie Iowa run was boring and the PSU run is boring as well. To me, the most exciting part of the weekend was Mekhi Lewis.

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Andy Vance's picture

The Lewis match was the best bout of the finals in this reporter’s humble opinion. Seriously impressed with the young Hokie.

Buck61's picture

I watched his last three matches, he looks like the real deal, excellent mix of power and quickness

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gr8bucks's picture

Would it be just as boring if the bucks were the one making the run?

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NorthPoleBuckeye's picture

Is PSU's talent that much better than OSU's or is there a coaching philosophy difference from Sanderson and Ryan that keeps PSU on top?

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Knarcisi's picture

Very nice write up. 

When you look at the 4x all American list, 75% of them are from the Ryan era. 

I’ll repeat here. Being critical, in the interest of getting over the hump, we are going to need to be better mat wrestlers. I’ve seen some people say you either are or you are not (that you have to recruit it, not teach it in college), but we are going to have to get better there to beat Penn St. Anyone that watches the tournaments can see this difference. We leave some points in the mat, and every point counts the higher you get. 

We only have 2 guys that can go deep. Here’s to hoping the youth nature’s quickly and that the competition shapens the saw. I think we’re 2-3 years away from really challenging PSU again. 

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REESE0113's picture

Anyone that thinks Hayes is a challenge to Sasso is crazy. Sammy will be an AA next year.

Ryan Taylor

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SoulPatrol32's picture

Andy, do you think Ke-Shawn could go all the way back down to 141? A friend we share seems to think that’s a really good possibility. 

Just posting and hoping my comment isn’t deleted. 

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bdhof's picture

Just last season he batted McKenna for that spot, the loser getting 149. This year he couldn’t beat Jordan so he goes 157. I think he goes 141.

bdhof

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SoulPatrol32's picture

I think so too. I know he’s been battling a shoulder issue as well. I think if he gets that spot and can heal up we will see what he’s truly capable of. 

Just posting and hoping my comment isn’t deleted. 

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Andy Vance's picture

Our mutual friend has as good an insight into the situation as anyone, that's for sure. I can see a few different possible roster combinations from 141-157 with Sasso, Kinner and Hayes all in play. Hayes' ideal class feels like 141, but he did a good job getting up to weight for 57 (I don't think he lost a lot of matches due to size, in other words). If he can cut back down he should be one of the stronger guys in the class.

SoulPatrol32's picture

Whatever weight he moves down to I think battling and doing pretty well at 157 will only help him next season.

Just posting and hoping my comment isn’t deleted. 

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Knarcisi's picture

No excuses for Hayes next year ... injury, who he had to wrestle, etc. I understand all that but at times he frankly looked disinterested. He essentially has his choice of weight class, where he feels most comfortable, and if he wants to include the stenhth of the field at respective weights, so be it. And he as a veteran he should be able to beat the younger guys for the spot. Hope next year is his year. 

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thekid's picture

Great article.  Love the discussion about the future.  However, in my mind, its all about recruiting, just like football and other sports.  PSU has the best talent and great coaching, like us.  You simply have to have the horses and we are close but not close enough.

Michael Zikas

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SunnysideVH's picture

It is readily apparent to even the most casual observer that being an athlete at OSU demands a serious commitment of time and energy. Thus the athletes would be best served by the most efficient ultilization of time and energy. Therefore the athletes must study the current state of the art scientific research publications and texts dealing with training and strength physiology such as those written by Dr. Doug McGuff, Ellington Darden, and Wayne Westcott.

The university and athletic department owes it to the player to hire only those trainers and coaches that have a valid expertise in exercise physiology. From my review of the training at OSU and almost all other colleges and high school programs, I find it to be abysmal.

If you doubt my assessment, I challenge you to read at least one book: Body by Science.

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BZN Buckeye's picture

Huge wrestling fan here, and I say this with the perspective of following the sport for 50+ years. Wrestling is struggling to remain relevant at just about every level - from pee wee programs to the Olympic level. It's always been a niche sport but there are stats that show participation has been declining since the late 80's at a steady rate.  What is the incentive of a university like Kent or CSU to keep a program going? I know people raised holy hell when CSU announced they were exiting D1 wrestling but I understood the reasons why even if I didn't like it. As a team they have no shot at winning anything, the school loses money and interest/attendance is down.

The PSU "domination" is not good for the sport and I would feel the same if it was OSU doing the dominating. When you start an arms race and only 3-4 programs are capable of funding a high level program every year it does not foster interest in the sport. When one program can stockpile talent like PSU, it makes the entire competitive experience seem pointless. When top 25 kids willingly sign with PSU fully understanding that they will get next to zero wrestling money and yet not impact the 9.9 scholarship limit, it creates a huge gap with schools that cannot afford that same luxury. Jason Nolf hasn't gotten a cent of wrestling money in 4 years. He's on some sort of academic ride that doesn't count toward the 9.9 limit. It was the same for Retherford and Megaludas and probably Taylor as well. So how can other schools compete with that? Duke doesn't even fund wrestling... they are D1 school but run the program like it's a D3 sport with kids getting academic money in lieu of wrestling scholarships.

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CasualObserver's picture

Kids go there because they know it's their best shot at a national title. Even if it's only one year. Cassar said it's the only reason he chose to walk-on.

A lot of kids are also looking at college wrestling as a hobby before international competition. Mason Manville is a Greco guy (Jr Olympic Greco silver in 2014) and probably won't ever be anything more than a spot-start his whole career. He's also getting no scholarship money because he's in ROTC and competes with the Army.

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Buck61's picture

You make some good points and let me add a few. Most of the high level football players were also wrestlers as well, now days more and more of those guys are now just focusing on football, pretty much depleting the wrestling rosters over 175 lbs. Many athletes are training for just football and playing the 7 on 7 circuit.

There are many high profile states, growing in population with few if any wrestling programs, Texas, Georgia and Florida are prime examples. I live in Florida and there are few high quality high school programs in South Florida. Many of the kids who want physical contact are playing lacrosse as that sport is in a growth spurt.

The Big Ten Network has done a nice job in promoting the sport, the PAC 12 network had the ASU / OSU meet as well as other meets. Hopefully the new ACC network will feature wrestling as well.

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Wishbone5's picture

What's the word on the fate of the Steelwood Facility? Will that be closed or re-purposed for something else?

I imagine that sauna-like environment will live on in Jennings... 

wb5

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Desymond's picture

Any McKenna-esque transfers out there looking to come to Cbus?

We can dream right? Damn, McKenna was a great pickup. 

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CasualObserver's picture

The NCAA has made sports pretty much free agency now. But the only one I can think of is Seth Gross. He sat out last year after winning the 133lb title in 2018. Probably a lock to follow Bono to Wisconsin.

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