It's not the last meet of the season, and in truth, Penn State is Ohio State's nemesis in wrestling, at least over the past decade. Even so, there is only one true rivalry for Ohio State and Michigan fans, even in wrestling.
Last year, "The Dual" came down to bonus points in what Michigan dubbed "The Clash at Crisler." This year's match could be every bit as tight, with talent aplenty on both sides of the mat.
8-0, 4-0 Big Ten Conference
ROSTER / SCHEDULE
7 P.M. – FRIDAY, JAN. 25
VALUE CITY ARENA
BROADCAST: Big Ten Network
All 10 Ohio State starters made an appearance in the initial NCAA "Coaches Panel" rankings that are part of the criteria used in seeding the NCAA Championship at season's end. Nine Wolverines were ranked, including four in the Top 5 of their respective weight classes.
Ohio State has made the effort in recent seasons to wrestle at least one dual each year inside Value City Arena, and this year the Michigan dual holds that distinction. Although the season marks the final time the team will host most of its duals in historic St. John Arena, for the Buckeye wrestlers, The Schott presents what should be the largest crowd they'll see until the NCAA tournament.
Add to that the excitement of wrestling in a nationally-televised dual versus the historic rival in a meeting of Top-5 teams, and there's little question Friday night's affair is full of intrigue and interesting storylines to watch.
The Michigan Wolverines
Head Coach: Sean Bormet
Sean Bormet was named the 10th head coach in the history of the Michigan wrestling program last March after seven years as the Wolverines' top assistant, including four as associate head coach. The consummate Michigan Man, he is the fourth U-M alumnus to helm the program.
|125||Malik Heinselman (14-4, Fr.)||
Austin Assad (8-4, r-Jr.),
-OR- No. 13 Drew Mattin (10-5, So.)
|133||No. 5 Luke Pletcher (16-1, Jr.)||No. 1 Stevan Micic (8-0, r.-Jr.)|
|141||No. 2 Joey McKenna (13-0, Sr.)||No. 5 Kanen Storr (17-2, r-So.)|
|149||No. 3 Micah Jordan (15-1, r-Sr.)||
Malik Amine (7-3, r-Sr.),
-OR- Ben Lamantia (5-4, r-Jr.)
|157||No. 8 Ke-Shawn Hayes (14-3 r-Jr.)||No. 11 Alec Pantaleo (10-4, r-Sr.)|
|165||Kaleb Romero (7-4, r-Fr.)||No. 7 Logan Massa (11-3, r-Jr.)|
Te'Shan Campbell (8-2, Sr.)
-OR- Ethan Smith (12-4, r-Fr.)
|No. 3 Myles Amine (13-1, r-Jr.)|
|184||No. 1 Myles Martin (10-0, Sr.)||JT Correll (0-3, r-Fr.)|
|197||No. 2 Kollin Moore (10-0, r-Jr.)||
Andrew Davison (7-2, r-Fr.),
-OR- Jackson Striggow (10-5, r-Jr.)
|HWT||No. 17 Chase Singletary (15-3, r-Fr.)||No. 7 Mason Parris (22-3, Fr.)|
Bormet was a solid if not spectacular student athlete, earning a pair of Big Ten titles at 158 pounds, and finishing as an All American two years as well.
Since taking top billing in Ann Arbor, he's led his team to a thus-far undefeated season with nearly every many on the roster ranked midway through the year.
Much as is the case in football, Michigan has a somewhat lopsided advantage in the all-time record at 64-20-3, but the Buckeyes have won seven of the last 10 duals and have earned a higher finish at both the Big Ten Championships and NCAA Championships in each of the past seven seasons (2012-18).
Still Bormet has his program on a footing with the likes of Ohio State and Iowa, and he has every intention of becoming the kind of program that can challenge Penn State for conference and national titles. The first-year head coach said his team is "laser focused on the task at hand" Friday night in Columbus.
133 pounds: No. 1 Stevan Micic
In the first of five ranked-versus-ranked matches, Michigan fields the top-rated man in one of the wildest classes of the year. With much attention paid in recent weeks to high-profile matches between Daton Fix, Nick Suriano and Austin DeSanto, Stevan Micic has quietly found his way at the top of the leaderboard 55 days out from the NCAA Championships.
Micic has only wrestled in eight bouts thus far this season due to an injury suffered at the Poland Open back in September that forced him to withdraw from the World Championships. He has earned bonus points in six of his eight total appearances this season; last year, he posted bonus points in 81 percent of his victories (21 of 26).
141 pounds: No. 5 Kanen Storr
Joey McKenna is on a mission to win his first NCAA title, but Kanen Storr is trying to make a name for himself, as well. The redshirt sophomore transferred from Iowa State to Michigan after two seasons in Ames, where he went 40-12.
He is 17-2 this season since returning to his home state, where he was a three-time high school champion.
285 pounds: No. 7 Mason Parris
The Indiana native and true freshman was expected to redshirt this season. But after an impressive couple of months wrestling in open tournaments, Bormet pulled Parris' redshirt in the first dual of 2019, and the young heavyweight promptly upended then-No. 1 Amar Dhesi of Oregon State, the highest returning NCAA heavyweight place-winner from 2018.
As InterMat noted after the victory, Parris was in eighth grade when Amar Dhesi started his college career in Corvallis. The win springboarded Parris up the rankings, and he is 22-3 on the season.
Buckeye fans should take heart: one of Parris' three losses was to redshirt freshman Chase Singletary, who handled the Michigan blue chipper in the semifinals of the Michigan State Open back in November.
Ohio State opened 2019 with a Top-5 matchup vs. North Carolina State, and walked away with wins in seven of 10 matches. The team followed that performance with routs of Indiana and Michigan State prior to taking a two-week training break ahead of the Michigan dual and a six-dual slate in February.
The Buckeyes sit firmly at No. 2 in the NWCA Coaches Poll rankings, and all 10 starters found their names listed in the initial Coaches Panel rankings that will be used as part of the NCAA tournament seeding.
(2 of 3)— Ohio State Wrestling (@wrestlingbucks) January 24, 2019
125 lbs - #33 M. Heinselman
133 lbs - #5 L. Pletcher
141 lbs - #2 J. McKenna
149 lbs - #3 M. Jordan
157 lbs - #6 K. Hayes
165 lbs - #29 K. Romero
174 lbs - #20 E. Smith
184 lbs - #1 M. Martin
197 lbs - #2 K. Moore
HWT - #15 C. Singletary
Of particular interest in the rankings, true freshman Malik Heinselman finds himself ranked after going 1-1 in his first weekend of action after discarding his redshirt. Also, the coaches seem convinced that Tom Ryan will ultimately start Ethan Smith at 174 pounds, although Ryan has rotated Smith and returning starter Te'Shan Campbell throughout the season.
Singletary has a big opportunity to improve his stock with a second win over Parris, and Romero can do the same should he upset No. 7 Logan Massa – no small feat, to be sure.
The Buckeyes should come into the match well-rested and hungry to handle another highly-regarded team in the biggest venue they'll see until Pittsburgh in March. Coach Tom Ryan called for a blackout, and if 15,000+ show up on a cold night in Columbus, that should provide some extra juice for the home team.
What to Expect
This dual should be a just a little closer than the meets versus Indiana and Michigan State, and in all likelihood will be the closest team score of the season other than Penn State. If the meet opens at 125, Michigan will expect to win their first two matches, and Ohio State will expect to win the next two – so bonus points matter.
Ke-Shawn Hayes has a solid opponent at 157, but should prevail, while Kaleb Romero and Ethan Smith both face uphill battles to get victories at 165 and 174.
Myles Martin and Kollin Moore will remain undefeated after their matches, so depending on bonus points, the dual could very well come down to the rematch of Singletary and Parris in the heavyweight bout.
Last year Ohio State won 18-15 on the road, and a similar score seems like the smart call in Columbus this year.