NaTo is back.
After missing 13 weeks of his senior season recovering from a knee injury, former NCAA champion Nathan Tomasello returns to the lineup Friday night when Ohio State faces Maryland.
Head coach Tom Ryan confirmed the three-time All-American would face redshirt freshman Brandon Cray in his first match since the U23 World Team Trials October 8. In the final match of the trials, Tomasello sustained an injury that led to knee surgery and his 13-week place on the sideline.
"He is by no means where we want him, where he wants to be, but he is far enough along that we've got to start inserting him somewhere," Ryan said on the Steelwood Radio podcast Wednesday.
"The most ideal situation would be a tournament this weekend, but there's really nothing to go to," so he'll wrestle at Maryland, and then likely again when the Buckeyes host Minnesota January 12 at the Schottenstein Center.
Fans excited by Tomasello's return, however, may be disappointed to learn that he will not wrestle No. 2 Nick Suriano at Rutgers Sunday. Ryan quashed those concerns, saying "it made no sense" to pit Tomasello against the undefeated former Penn State standout so soon after returning from surgery.
"We are all about competition," Ryan said. "But the number one thing right now for Ohio State wrestling is health and preparation."
Tomasello won the 2015 NCAA championship at 125 pounds and took third the following year, a finish he repeated last season at 133 pounds.
He has maintained his No. 1 ranking throughout his absence from competition, but with his return, will be on the clock. In addition to Suriano (14-0), the class is loaded with talent, including Big Ten foes Ethan Lizak of Minnesota and Iowa freshman Spencer Lee, who announced this week that he would burn his redshirt and step into the Hawkeye lineup.