Wrestling: Pletcher, Hayes Improve National Profile After Cliff Keen Victories

By Andy Vance on December 6, 2017 at 12:00 pm
Luke Pletcher: All he does is win.

Three of Ohio State's starters improved their standings in the national rankings after a strong performance at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. Luke Pletcher, Ke-Shawn Hayes and Micah Jordan all find themselves ranked in the Top 5 nationally after Top 3 finishes at the two-day national tournament.

Ohio State won the tournament - by 15.5 points - for the second year in a row on the strength of championships by Pletcher, Myles Martin and Kollin Moore, with seven Buckeyes finishing in the Top 4 of their individual brackets.

NCAA Division I Rankings, Week of Dec. 4
Weight Wrestler InterMat FloWrestling WIN Trackwrestling
125 Nathan Tomasello 1 1 1 1
133 Luke Pletcher 4 4 8 4
141 Joey McKenna 6 6 7 6
149 Ke-Shawn Hayes 5 5 9 5
157 Micah Jordan 5 5 7 7
165 Te'Shan Campbell 11 8 11 9
174 Bo Jordan 3 3 3 3
184 Myles Martin 2 2 2 2
197 Kollin Moore 1 1 1 1
HWT Kyle Snyder 1 1 1 1

Pletcher, wrestling at 133 pounds, saw the most dramatic rise in stock after his championship performance. Undefeated on the season through three duals and two tournaments, the sophomore defeated three ranked foes in a row en route to the Cliff Keen title.

His semifinal upset of No. 2 Stevan Micic of Michigan did as much as anything to boost Pletcher's credibility as one of the top lightweights in the country.

Three of the four major national media outlets consider Pletcher the No. 4 wrestler in the class, with Wrestling Insider NewsMagazine the outlier, ranking him No. 8 this week. Previously, he was ranked anywhere from 8th to 11th.

Hayes, at 149 pounds, followed a similar trajectory, moving from the 8-11 range into the Top 5; again, WIN was the outlier of the national ranking services (the others being InterMat, FloWrestling and Trackwrestling), pegging Hayes as the No. 9 man in the class, up from 11.

He finished third at the Cliff Keen, coming up a takdown short in the quarterfinals to then-No. 9 Troy Heilmann, who finished one spot ahead of Hayes on the podium. Hayes rebounded with a major decision in his first match of the wrestlebacks, and ground out a narrow decision over Northern Iowa's Max Thomsen in the third-place match.

Prior to a season-ending injury in 2016, Hayes was considered one of the top 141-pound contenders in the country. The lengthy layoff and shift to 149 pounds likely contributed to Hayes early season rankings at the bottom of the Top 10, but his impressive performances thus far in 2017 have answered any doubts that he's very much a title contender.

Micah Jordan

Micah Jordan, like Hayes, is up a weight class from last season. Also like Hayes, he finished short of a championship in Las Vegas, but impressed in five straight victories - three of which came by fall.

The younger Jordan avenged his early-season loss to Arizona State's Josh Shields, with a 8-6 decision in the semifinal match. Things didn't go as well in the final match, a 10-3 decision for Michigan's Alec Pantaleo. 

Nontheless, Jordan's pin-happy performance nudged him up to No. 5 in two sets of rankings; he stands at No. 7 in two others.

One Buckeye who slid in the rankings this week is Te'Shan Campbell, who finished 4th at the Cliff Keen. Finishing fourth in a national tournament featuring several ranked foes is nothing to sneeze at, Campbell's two losses were notable in that he failed to score a single takedown, finishing with a combined score of 8-1 in favor of his opponents.

Campbell went 1-1 versus then-No. 11 Isaiah Wright of Nebraska, and lost to the only other ranked wrestler he faced, then-No. 5 David McFadden of Virginia Tech. Accordingly, Campbell slid from a consensus No. 7 ranking to as low as 11th in this week's standings.

Nathan Tomasello, Kollin Moore and Kyle Snyder remain the unanimous No. 1 wrestlers in their respective weight classes, and Myles Martin is the unanimous No. 2 at 184. Bo Jordan held steady at No. 3 after his controversial loss to No. 1 Zahid Valencia.

As a team, the Buckeyes have overtaken Penn State as the No. 1 team in the country in three of the four sets of rankings. They are still the No. 2 team in the USA Today/NWCA Coaches Poll, which is a dual-meet, rather than tournament ranking.

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