Ohio State's hopes for a second NCAA title took an unexpected blow late in the quarterfinal round Friday afternoon. Kollin Moore, the No. 1 seed, fell hard to an unseeded wrestler from Kent State.
Fellow Northern Ohio native Kyle Conel earned his bid into the quarters with wins over the No. 9 and No. 8 seeds Thursday, and was the aggressor in his match with Moore from the opening whistle. Barely a minute into the match, he tied Moore up in a double underhook, and the concern on Moore's face was visible all the way in the upper deck.
Seconds later, Conel lifted the returning All American, and planted him on the mat. As the crowd came to its feet, Moore's wind knocked out of him, Conel pressed the move home and earned the pin, ending Ohio State's hopes for a title at 197 pounds.
THE Kent State University. pic.twitter.com/ww2WQOYlvO— DavidDermerPix (@DavidDermerPix) March 16, 2018
Social media reaction was swift, with many calling time of death on the Buckeyes' chances at outlasting Penn State in the team race.
The Fates, as it turns out, may wear scarlet and gray.
Mere moments after Moore left the match in shock, Penn State quarterfinalist Shakur Rasheed found himself on the wrong side of a decision against Rutgers' Michael Macchiavello. Shortly after, as Kyle Snyder advanced to the semifinals in the heavyweight class, Nick Nevills came up short to Oregon State's Amar Dhesi.
Ohio State needed a break, and those two losses were just what the doctor ordered. Penn State still passed its five defending national champions into the semifinals, and the five of them will be favored to advance to the finals. The Buckeyes have six semifinalists, but will be the underdogs in all but two matches.
So while the team score looks like Ohio State has things well in hand, Penn State will narrow the gap, if not pull ahead, pending how many Buckeyes survive and advance this evening.
Nine of 10 Wrestlers Still Competing
Ke-Shawn Hayes and Bo Jordan joined Moore on the wrong side of the scoreboard in the quarterfinals. Hayes came up short in overtime of his rematch with North Carolina 149-pounder Troy Heilmann, and Jordan failed to score the takedown he needed to tie things up with Daniel Lewis of Missouri.
All three joined Te'Shan Campbell in the consolation brackets, and have the opportunity to earn All-American status and add points to the team's tally. Jordan needs one more win to become a four-time All-American.
Campbell became the first Buckeye eliminated from the tournament. He won his first consolation match, a 9-8 decision over Conner Flynn of Missouri, after racing out to an early 7-1 lead, and nearly failing to hold off Flynn's comeback effort in the third period.
His second match was a rematch with Nick Wanzek of Minnesota; Campbell came up short in an 8-5 dual-meet decision at the Schott earlier in the season. Things were a little closer this time, but he couldn't muster enough offense to outlast Wanzek, who took the win with a riding time point on a 4-3 decision.
|125||No. 2 Nathan Tomasello, major decision over No. 7 Taylor Lamont (Utah Valley), 12-4||2.0|
|133||No. 3 Luke Pletcher, decision over No. 6 Scott Parker (Lehigh), 3-1||1.0|
|141||No. 4 Joey McKenna, decision over No. 12 Tyler Smith (Bucknell), 8-3||1.0|
|149||No. 4 Troy Heilmann (North Carolina), decision over No. 5 Ke-Shawn Hayes, 2-1||0.0|
|157||No. 7 Micah Jordan, major decision over No. 15 John Van Brill (Rutgers), 17-5||2.0|
|165||No. 13 Te'Shan Campbell, decision over Conner Flynn (Missouri), 9-8||0.5|
|165||No. 12 Nick Wanzek (Minnesota), decision over No. 13 Te'Shan Campell, 4-3||0.0|
|174||No. 3 Daniel Lewis (Missouri), decision over No. 6 Bo Jordan, 3-1||0.0|
|184||No. 2 Myles Martin, decision over Chip Ness (North Carolina), 10-6||1.0|
|197||Kyle Conel (Kent State), victory by FALL over No. 1 Kollin Moore, 1:30||0.0|
|HWT||No. 1 Kyle Snyder, decision over No. 9 Derek White (Oklahoma State), 6-3||1.0|
In addition to the points awarded for advancing (1.0 points for a win in the championship bracket and 0.5 for a win in the consolation bracket) and bonus points (1.0 for a major, 1.5 for a tech and 2.0 for a pin or injury default), wrestlers are also awarded "placement points" depending on how they finish in the tournament.
Each of Ohio State's six semifinalists will earn a minimum of 6.0 placement points, as they will finish no worse than sixth. If they advance to the finals, they'll earn additional placement points, and likewise if wrestlers advance to the podium in the consolation brackets, they'll earn additional placement points as well. The team scores above reflect the placement points guaranteed thus far.
Semifinal matches get underway Friday at 8 p.m. The semifinal draws aren't overly favorable for the Buckeyes, at least compared to the quarterfinal draws.
- 125 pounds: No. 2 Nathan Tomasello vs. No. 3 Spencer Lee (Iowa)
- 133 pounds: No. 3 Luke Pletcher vs. No. 2 Stevan Micic (Michigan)
- 141 pounds: No. 4 Joey McKenna vs. No. 1 Bryce Meredith (Wyoming)
- 157 pounds: No. 7 Micah Jordan vs. No. 3 Jason Nolf (Penn State)
- 184 pounds: No. 2 Myles Martin vs. No. 6 Zachary Zavatsky (Virginia Tech)
- 285 pounds: No. 1 Kyle Snyder vs. No. 4 Jacob Kasper (Duke)
For the Buckeyes to feel completely confident in their team title chances, they need to advance at least as many wrestlers to the finals as Penn State does. Jordan upsetting Nolf would certainly help in that process.
Tomasello and Lee have history, and this will be the rubber match between them. McKenna has looked incredible all postseason; can he muster enough offense to upset the No. 1 seed in the class? And can Luke Pletcher avenge his Big Ten finals loss to Michigan man Stevan Micic?
Oh, if you wanted one more storyline, Snyder's semifinal opponent might be a familiar name...
Jacob Kasper said he would punch Kyle Snyder in the mouth; Snyder beat him 19-6 to advance to the NCAA Finals. https://t.co/PwRNW2Q4jV— Eleven Warriors (@11W) March 18, 2017
Kasper was still talking about his would-be rivalry with Captain America two months after the champ took him through a Snyder-brand takedown clinic. Let's get in the time machine and revisit an interview from last May:
"If I was going to beat him, I wanted him to be ready, and throw everything he had at me, because I didn't want people making the excuse he wasn't ready," Kasper said. "I'm glad he knew about it. I think it's funny he didn't have a quote for (TV) until after the match. That shows he was second-guessing himself. That's something I'm going to thrive on going into next year."