Last season's meeting between the Buckeyes and the Wolfpack was a blowout. The second meeting in as many years promised to be a different story.
NC State fielded a half-dozen ranked wrestlers, and higher-ranked guys held serve throughout the night. Ohio State started strong out of the gate, picking up wins in the first two bouts of the night, but the Wolfpack responded with a pair of wins of their own to pull within a point in the team score after four matches, and it looked like things might get interesting.
Unfortunately for the visiting team, that was as close as it got. Ohio State won five of the final six matches of the night, and NC State's talented 133-pounder Tariq Wilson's injury defaulted early in the second period versus Luke Pletcher.
Two Buckeyes earned major decisions on the night, and Pletcher's six points for the injury default gave Ohio State its second lopsided victory over the Wolfpack in as many seasons.
Luke Pletcher, Joey McKenna, Micah Jordan, Myles Martin and Kollin Moore are as strong a core to a program as you could ask for. The returning All Americans held serve, as expected, with four winning their matches handily and Pletcher's highly-anticipated match with Wilson aborted due to Wilson's injury.
Action Sunday night started at 141, and McKenna looked every bit as sharp as expected, scoring two takedowns in the first period and a takedown each in the second and third. As is typically the case, he didn't give up a takedown to his opponent, and walked away with a major decision over an unranked Jamal Morris.
Jordan held a 2-0 career advantage over No. 4 Justin Oliver, an offseason graduate transfer from Central Michigan. He extended it to 3-0 in a match that had the home crowd on its feet due to some late-match heroics: trailing 4-2 going into the final frame, Jordan hit a pair of takedowns in the final period to earn the 6-5 decision.
Myles Martin nearly recorded a major over the No. 3 guy in the country in Nick Reenan, but Reenan surged late in the final period to hold Martin to a 12-5 decision. Kollin Moore was all offense in his major decision victory, hitting five takedowns, a reversal and adding a pair of nearfall points for good measure.
Pletcher's match was the most disappointing from Tom Ryan's Fab Five, but only because No. 7 Tariq Wilson suffered what appeared to be a serious ankle injury early in the second period. With the meet already decided, Wilson couldn't return to the match, and Pletcher won by injury default.
Ryan credited his senior captains – Jordan, Martin and McKenna – with their leadership for the victory: "We faced a really good team tonight. They’re really good, they had a trophy last year."
The Young Bucks
Chase Singletary looked solid for two periods against Colin Lawler. The redshirt freshman hit a six-point move in the opening seconds of the match and was on the verge of landing the fall, but couldn't quite finish.
He added another takedown in the second, and led 10-4 heading into the final frame. The final period was scoreless, leading Ryan to note that Singletary, like teammates Kaleb Romero and Te'Shan Campbell, have to get better at wrestling aggressively for a full seven minutes.
"For this team to be elite, we’ve got to wrestle strong all three periods," Ryan said. "We have to show more improvement if we’re going to truly fight for a championship. As of Jan. 9, we’re not there yet."
Romero looked as though he might earn his first victory over a ranked opponent, having scored the only takedown of the match and tied 2-2 at the end of regulation. His opponent, however, capitalized on a scramble in sudden victory, and earned the walk-off takedown.
Campbell, at 174 pounds, raced out to a 4-1 lead in the first minute of his match over an unranked Daniel Bullard, and that was the final score of the match as the two combatants waltzed through the final five minutes of their contest.
"Te’Shan found a way to win, but we need to see bonus points," Ryan said. "You’re up 4-1 in the first minute, you should be up 8-2 by two minutes, and so on."
Campbell is in a "dogfight" with Ethan Smith for the starting spot at 174. FloWrestling currently has Smith ranked No. 19 in the class on the strength of his performance at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational.
"Tonight didn’t do much to convince us it should be Campbell, and it didn’t do anything to convince us it shouldn’t be Campbell," Ryan said after the meet.
No. 8 Ke-Shawn Hayes couldn't find a way to overcome No. 5 Hayden Hidlay's aggressive offense. The 2018 NCAA runner-up came out of the gate shooting, and Hayes couldn't manage any of his own.
"It was a one takedown match, we were in on his legs late in the period, and time ran out on him," Ryan said. "But what happened is we got hit for stalling three times, and that’s points you can't give up. You just have to bear down emotionally and mentally and not get hit with those."
Jordan, who wrestled Hidlay twice last season at 157, said he thought Hayes has what it takes to beat Hidlay if the two cross paths again in the postseason.
"[Hidlay’s] really strong and he goes to his undercooks a lot," Jordan said. "Ke-Shawn got out of those positions really well. I feel like the match was closer than the score indicated - he was right there with him."
After taking time away from the Wolfpack to win a U23 Freestyle World Silver Medal in Bucharest last fall, No. 10 Sean Fausz returned to the lineup for NC State and won a major decision over Hunter Lucas at 125. Lucas started in place of Brakan Mead, who is 4-6 on the season.
"Our best 125 pounder is a redshirt – if the dual was closer, we may have wrestled Malik [Heinselman] tonight," Ryan said. "He was ready to go tonight. But I want him to understand how good he is, and make sure that he believes in himself before we put him out there."
|141||No. 2 Joey McKenna, major decision over Jamal Morris (10-2).||4||0|
|149||No. 3 Micah Jordan, decision over No. 4 Justin Oliver (6-5).||7||0|
|157||No. 5 Hayden Hidlay, decision over No. 8 Ke-Shawn Hayes (7-2).||7||3|
|165||No. 18 Thomas Bullard, decision over Kaleb Romero (4-2).||7||6|
|174||Te'Shan Campbell, decision over Daniel Bullard (4-1).||10||6|
|184||No. 1 Myles Martin, decision over No. 3 Nick Reenan (12-5).||13||6|
|197||No. 3 Kollin Moore, major decision over No. 18 Malik McDonald (15-6).||17||6|
|HWT||No. 17 Chase Singletary, decision over Colin Lawler (10-4).||20||6|
|125||No. 10 Sean Fausz, major decision over Hunter Lucas (11-2).||20||10|
|133||No. 5 Luke Pletcher victory by injury default over No. 7 Tariq Wilson.||26||10|
With the win over the Wolfpack, the Buckeyes advance to 5-0 on the season. The team returns to action Sunday, Jan. 13, hosting the Michigan State Spartans at 2 p.m. in St. John Arena.