On paper, Ohio State's home finale against No. 6 Nebraska was split down the middle. Each team fielded the favorite in five matches, with five bouts featuring ranked-versus-ranked match-ups.
In the end the Buckeyes won running away as heavyweight Chase Singletary put an exclamation point on the victory, pulling off an upset of No. 7 David Jensen with the go-ahead takedown as time expired. Three thousand fans hit their feet as the redshirt freshman demonstrated just how far he's come since losing a wrestle-off to teammate Gary Traub barely four months ago.
His win was the sixth Ohio State victory of the night. Bonus points from Luke Pletcher – yes, the same Luke Pletcher who won at Purdue on a hands-to-the-face call in the third period – and senior captain Micah "The Mongoose" Jordan gave the home team a hefty margin in the final team tally.
Along with Singletary, Pletcher and Jorday, Joey McKenna, Myles Martin and Kollin Moore each walked away with a win in their final home match of the season. The Buckeyes travel next weekend to Ithaca, N.Y., to face Cornell in the last match of the regular season.
|125||No. 14 Zeke Moisey, decision over Malik Heinselman (8-5)||0||3|
|133||No. 6 Luke Pletcher, major decision over Jevon Parrish (13-4)||4||3|
|141||No. 3 Joey McKenna, decision over Chad Red (7-1)||7||3|
|149||No. 3 Micah Jordan, victory by TECH FALL over Jordan Schearer (22-7)||12||3|
|157||No. 2 Tyler Berger, decision over No. 8 Ke-Shawn Hayes (10-5)||12||6|
|165||No. 6 Isaiah White, decision over Te'Shan Campbell (4-2)||12||9|
|174||No. 9 Mikey Labriola, decision over No. 18 Ethan Smith (9-5)||12||12|
|184||No. 1 Myles Martin, decision over No. 4 Tyler Venz (12-5)||15||12|
|197||No. 2 Kollin Moore, decision over No. 11 Eric Schultz (7-5, SV1)||18||12|
|HWT||No. 18 Chase Singletary, decision over No. 7 David Jensen (7-5)||21||12|
Ohio State improves to 11-2 on the year, finishing Big Ten action with 7 dual-meet victories against just 2 losses.
Sunday's meet was also the team's Senior Day celebrations, with Martin, Jordan, McKenna and Te'Shan Campbell each wrestling the final home matches of their careers. The three captains emerged victories, while Campbell dropped his third loss of the season in a close decision to No. 6 Isaiah White.
McKenna picked up his 16th win of the season the 95th of his career against All American Chad Red. Although the Cornhusker isn't highly ranked, he showed that he was no shrinking violet, holding McKenna to his second-lowest output of the dual-meet season and just his second decision.
Jordan followed with an impressive tech fall punctuated by a nifty 6-point move. Like McKenna he was wrestling an unranked opponent, and outpaced his man from the opening whistle. He picked up his 105th career win as a Buckeye and his 15th bonus point win of the season.
Martin was a hair's breadth from a major decision in his win over No. 4 Taylor Venz. He was the dominant man from the opening whistle, showing again that the 184-pound class is his to lose this season. His most-impressive moment was his credible rendition of a matador:
For much of the match, it looked like Venz didn't know what hit him.
Kollin Moore had one of the more exciting finishes to a match, going into extra innings vs. No. 11 Eric Schultz. Leading by a takedown with seconds left, Moore appeared to doze a little on Schultz, who capitalized with a score as time expired.
The sudden change in momentum sparked Moore back to life, and he barely needed 15 seconds of Sudden Victory to pick up the decision. He acknowledged after the match that he needed to be more aggressive in the final seconds of regulation to avoid letting his man draw even.
Moore is now 5-1 versus ranked opponents this season, and 15-1 overall. He'll go into the postseason as the presumed No. 2 seed at both the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments.
Young Bucks Go Down Swinging
Chase Singletary had the lone win of the night among the freshman class, but Malik Heinselman and No. 18 Ethan Smith each put up impressive performances in losses that head coach Tom Ryan said the team would definitely build on in the final 30 days of the season.
Heinselman went toe-to-toe with No. 14 Zeke Moisey, a senior transfer from West Virginia. Moisey's 4-point nearfall in the first period was the difference in the match, as Heinselman battled back from a 6-0 deficit to pull within a takedown over the final 4 minutes of action.
He showed over those latter periods that he has all the raw talent in the world, and if he continues to develop and get stronger in the weight room, he'll be a good one for the Buckeyes in the weeks and years ahead.
Smith likewise ran out of time before he could engineer a comeback and upset of No. 9 Mikey Labriola. The biggest opportunity for the redshirt freshman in the final weeks of the year is to get stronger off the bottom and to finish his shots.
He took plenty of chances in trying to score, but converted too few. And when Labriola got on top of him after landing shots of his own, Smith wasn't consistently able to get out from under the highly-regarded Cornhusker.
In both cases, Ohio State is relying on freshman to a degree they haven't since Kyle Snyder, Bo Jordan and Nathan Tomasello were in their debut seasons. To date the team hasn't gotten the same production out of this trio as they did those now-graduated 4-time All Americans, but there is still plenty of upside for Ryan and company to build toward.
Credit Where It's Due
Luke Pletcher takes a lot of grief from Buckeye fans for his low-scoring, grind-it-out decisions. His win Sunday over Jevon Parrish was anything but, as he picked up his 20th win of the season and his 10th with bonus points attached.
This weekend's action was a tale of two extremes that showcased why folks watching at home might suffer some emotional whiplash when following the 133-pounder this season. At Purdue, he won on a hands-to-the-face penalty in a 2-1 decision in which neither he nor No. 16 Ben Thornton scored a takedown.
Sunday versus Parrish looked like Pletcher's attempt to silence the critics, as he came out swinging and put up his highest offensive total since a 16-6 major decision over Josiah Kline of Arizona State way back in mid-November. It was a welcome change, and a reminder that Pletcher has the ability to score plenty of points – and remains one of the toughest guys on the team to get on the mat himself.
The Road Ahead
The Big Ten Championships are a mere 20 days ahead, but the Buckeyes can't gaze into the postseason quite yet. Although the home schedule is in the books, one final dual remains: next Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Cornell.
Cornell is 13-2 overall and undefeated in the EIWA. They stand 9th in the latest NWCA Coaches Poll to Ohio State's 6th-place mark.
The Big Red crushed North Carolina Saturday, handing the Tarheels a 29-5 thumping. Cornell features a half-dozen ranked starters, headlined by No. 1 Yianni Diakomihalis, who won the NCAA title at 141 as a freshman phenom last season.