Five pins in one night.
Ohio State had every expectation of winning Friday night on the road in Bloomington. The Buckeyes not only won, they thoroughly dominated an overmatched Indiana Hoosiers squad that featured no wrestlers ranked in the top 20 of their respective weight class to the Buckeyes' seven.
The rout was on from the very first bout, as heavyweight Chase Singletary picked up his fourth fall of the season and set the tone for what turned out to be a prolific night for the road team.
Joey McKenna and Micah Jordan, each ranked among the top three in their weight class, recorded first-period falls at 141 and 149, and Myles Martin and Kollin Moore would add two more pins to close the evening out with a bang.
The outcome of the meet was never in doubt, but very few teams expect to walk into a conference opponent's gym and so thoroughly impose their will.
Buckeye head coach Tom Ryan has made no secret that Malik Heinselman is his team's best option at 125 pounds, but that Heinselman would not enter the lineup unless the staff felt he had progressed enough to have a legitimate shot at placing in the NCAA Championships at season's end.
Friday night, they took the plunge.
When Heinselman dressed for last week's home dual versus NC State, Ryan admitted that if that contest had been in question, the true freshman would have taken the mat in the night's penultimate match. As it turned out, the outcome of the dual had long been settled, and it made little sense to throw Heinselman up against a top-10 opponent in his first match of the season.
Wrestling an unranked Big Ten foe, on the other hand, presented an ideal scenario: bloody Heinselman against a beatable senior with a winning record two days before he will conceivably face a ranked opponent back in the friendly confines of St. John Arena.
Heinselman got his first official victory of his career – he was 13-3 wrestling in open tournaments leading up to Friday's debut – against Elijah Oliver, a senior with a 9-7 record. It was a low-scoring affair, concluding as a 3-2 decision, but reflected well on Heinselman nonetheless, as he had to score a takedown in the third period to win the match.
Ohio State pulls Malik Heinselman's redshirt and he takes out three-time NCAA qualifier Elijah Oliver, 3-2. pic.twitter.com/1gc0TMUn4x— FloWrestling (@FloWrestling) January 12, 2019
Wrestling a true freshman is not ideal, particularly in a class full of seasoned, talented lightweights, but Heinselman has the raw talent to earn his way onto the podium in Pittsburgh two months from now. Assuming he wrestles Sunday afternoon versus Michigan's State's Rayvon Foley, he could post his first win over a ranked opponent.
The Te'Shan Tilt
Senior Te'Shan Campbell is the other Buckeye wrestler with an -OR- after his name in the lineup. After starting last season like a house afire, the one-time Pitt Panther and former ACC champion faded down the stretch, failing to place at the NCAA Championships in Cleveland.
The book on Campbell is that he either gets opponents on the mat and tilted for near-fall points in the first period ... or he's in real danger of losing the match. His bout a week ago went along those lines: he landed a four-point move in the match's opening minute, and failed to score another point, finishing with a 4-1 decision.
He did a bit better than that in Bloomington, handling Jacob Covaciu with a 12-2 major decision. Campbell managed the only takedown of the first period, but added another takedown and a four-point near-fall in the second to take an 8-1 lead into the final frame.
Opening the third on bottom, he escaped and added on another takedown to earn the major and the bonus points. That type of performance will go a long way toward his retaining the starting position.
Redshirt freshman Ethan Smith will likely start Sunday's match versus Michigan State, as the staff continues to evaluate with wrestler gives the team the best chance at a title run in March.
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
In addition to Heinselman's 3-2 decision in the second match of the night, Luke Pletcher and Ke-Shawn Hayes were the two other Buckeyes to win without scoring bonus points.
Pletcher faced redshirt junior Garrett Pepple at 133, recording a pair of takedowns in the first period and another in the second; his riding time bonus led to the 7-3 decision.
Ke-Shawn Hayes dropped a tough match last week versus NCAA runner-up Hayden Hidlay, and seemed primed to bounce back in a big way in Bloomington. Redshirt senior Jake Danishek wasn't prepared to roll over and play dead, however, after Hayes raced out to a 4-1 lead in the opening period.
Danishek picked up a takedown of his own in the second period, and another in the third had the score knotted at 6-6 with a minute remaining in the match. Hayes would escape with 58 seconds left to earn a hard-fought 7-6 decision.
Hayes tends to wrestle a more defensive style, and he is wrestling in his third different weight class in as many years. He has all the talent needed to perform well in the postseason, but needs to maintain a strong attack rate to ward off getting caught in the waning moments of these close decisions.
The final decision of the night was the one match that didn't go in Ohio State's favor. Redshirt freshman Kaleb Romero continues to have an up-and-down season as a first-year starter.
Romero went to Bloomington with a 6-3 record, having dropped a heartbreaker versus NC State in sudden victory. His inability to finish a takedown doomed him in Bloomington, as Indiana's Bryce Martin scored the only takedown of the match, and added the riding time bonus for the 3-0 victory.
"For this team to be elite, we’ve got to wrestle strong all three periods," Ryan said last week. "We have to show more improvement if we’re going to truly fight for a championship. As of Jan. 6, we’re not there yet."
As of January 11, Romero doesn't appear to be there yet, either.
|HWT||No. 17 Chase Singletary, victory by FALL over Rudy Streck (3:13)||6||0|
|125||Malik Heinselman, decision over Elijah Oliver (3-2)||9||0|
|133||No. 5 Luke Pletcher, decision over Garrett Pepple (7-3)||12||0|
|141||No. 2 Joey McKenna, victory by FALL over Paul Konrath (2:52)||18||0|
|149||No. 3 Micah Jordan, victory by FALL over Kyle Luigs (1:53)||24||0|
|157||No. 8 Ke-Shawn Hayes, decision over Jake Danishek (7-6)||27||0|
|165||Bryce Martin, decision over Kaleb Romero (3-0)||27||3|
|174||Te'Shan Campbell, major decision over Jacob Covaciu (12-2)||31||3|
|184||No. 1 Myles Martin, victory by FALL over Norman Conley (6:45)||37||3|
|197||No. 2 Kollin Moore, victory by FALL over Jake Hinz (3:50)||43||3|
Odds and Ends
- Friday's five falls are the most by Ohio State in a dual since tallying six in a 52-0 rout of Cleveland State on Nov. 22, 2016.
- Friday marked the fourth time Ohio State has scored more than 40 team points in a dual over the past two seasons, and the eighth time the team has scored at least 35 points in the same timeframe.
- Three Buckeyes remain undefeated this season: Joey McKenna, Myles Martin and Kollin Moore.
Ohio State returns to action Sunday afternoon, hosting the Michigan State Spartans in St. John Arena at 2 p.m. The match will again by streamed via BTN2Go and FloWrestling.