Joey McKenna was injured. Chase Singletary had the flu. Malik Heinselman got spelled ahead of a huge battle Sunday.
None of that mattered: Ohio State left Huff Hall Friday night with a dominant victory over Illinois, winning 23-14. The Buckeyes won 6 of 10 matches contested in the meet, including a tech fall by Micah Jordan and a pin by Kollin Moore.
Myles Martin won the biggest match of the night, pacing No. 4 Emery Parker in an 8-4 decision. The two split a pair of matches in 2017, with Parker getting the upper hand in the second round of the NCAA tournament and snuffing out Martin's chances of back-to-back NCAA titles.
A match later, Kollin Moore needed just a little more than three minutes to pin Andre Lee, putting the meet out of reach for the Illini with two matches left to wrestle. It was the type of performance Oho State expects from Moore, and the type shown consistently by senior captains McKenna, Martin and Micah Jordan.
The dominant victory was a reminder that Moore is a legitimate title contender, and is wrestling at an incredibly high level this season: in addition to being one of three undefeated wrestlers on the team, he has bonus points in 8 of 12 victories this season, including four by fall.
|133||No. 6 Luke Pletcher, decision over Dylan Duncan (3-2)||3||0|
|141||No. 4 Mike Carr, victory by TECH FALL over Clay Ragon (20-5)||3||5|
|149||No. 3 Micah Jordan, victory by TECH FALL over Christian Kanzler (27-12)||8||5|
|157||No. 7 Ke-Shawn Hayes, decision over No. 8 Eric Barone (3-1, SV1)||11||5|
|165||Joey Gunther, decision over Kaleb Romero (3-1, SV1)||11||8|
|174||No. 18 Ethan Smith, decision over Carver James (7-5)||14||8|
|184||No. 1 Myles Martin, decision over No. 4 Emery Parker (8-4)||17||8|
|197||No. 2 Kollin Moore, victory by FALL over Andre Lee (3:37)||23||8|
|HWt||Deuce Rachal, decision over Gary Traub (3-2)||23||11|
|125||No. 11 Travis Piotrowski, decision over Hunter Lucas (3-1)||23||14|
The most notable thing about the Illinois dual is that it marked the debut of Ethan Smith as the full-time starter at 174 pounds. Smith, despite holding a strong record and a Top-20 ranking, had split time with senior Te'Shan Campbell.
Campbell couldn't hold off Smith's strong showing against top competition, which included a December win over Wisconsin's Ryan Christensen, and a near-upset last week against Michigan's Myles Amine. The staff listed Campbell back at 165 for this weekend's meets, the weight he wrestled throughout the 2017-2018 season.
Kaleb Romero had another shot to solidify himself as the team's best option at 165, but failed to take advantage. He dropped a 3-1 decision to Joey Gunther in sudden victory, falling to 7-6 on the season. With that result, Campbell should see the start Sunday in Evanston vs. Northwestern.
Ke-Shawn Hayes won the first of only two ranked-versus-ranked matchups to happen Friday, securing the 3-1 victory in Sudden Victory over No. 8 Eric Barone. Hayes still needs to be more aggressive with his attack rate, but he did what needed to be done in Champaign.
The same could be said of Luke Pletcher, who won another 3-2 decision. Pletcher started the year with a much higher attack rate than he showed last season, and won the majority of his matches in the first six weeks of the season with bonus points. Since the start of 2019, it's been a different story.
At 149 pounds, Jordan got the night going for the Buckeyes with a high-scoring 27-12 tech fall. It was an incredible outpouring of offense that gave the Buckeyes the lead in the dual after three matches.
Romero's loss at 165 was the only defeat suffered by a starter.
- Clay Ragon fell to No. 4 Mike Carr in relief for Joey McKenna, who is battling an undisclosed injury.
- Gary Traub came up short in a 3-2 decision at heavyweight, filling in for a sick Singletary.
- Hunter Lucas dropped a 3-1 decision to No. 11 Travis Piotrowski at 125.
Ohio State hasn't said if Malik Heinselman is battling some injury, suffering the same flu-like symptoms that sidelined Singeltary, or simply resting up for Sunday's showdown with No. 1 Sebastian Rivera at Northwestern. In comments to the press earlier in the week, assistant Coach Tervel Dlagnev seemed to indicate that Heinselman would face Rivera.
Update: Coach Tom Ryan confirmed that Heinselman will wrestle Saturday at the Edinboro Open along with several of his teammates.
Malik was sent with Tervel Dlagnev and others to compete at the Edinboro Open. He has good win against Mackal from Ia State in Lindenwood Open Final. Want his RPI & Winning % up plus more matches. Go Bucks!— Thomas Ryan (@Buckeye158) February 2, 2019
The Buckeyes face the Wildcats Sunday, Feb. 3 at 1 p.m. in Welsh-Ryan Arena. The meet will stream via BTN Plus.