Ohio State rolled into Pittsburgh with 10 wrestlers vying for NCAA Championship glory, the only team in the country to earn a tournament bid in every weight class. After the tournament's opening round, eight Buckeyes still have a shot at a title and the team stands in second place, just ahead of Oklahoma State.
Defending national champion Penn State only qualified nine wrestlers to the tournament, but finished the first session in a commanding lead, 5.5 points ahead of the Buckeyes.
Bonus points from five Buckeyes helped make up for early losses by true freshman Malik Heinselman and redshirt freshman Ethan Smith, both of whom still have a shot at placement in the consolation brackets.
At last year's tournament in Cleveland the Buckeyes were squarely focused on winning the team's second NCAA team title of the Tom Ryan era, but this year the goal may already be a fight for second to one of the most dominant teams in recent memory.
Ohio State's top seeds held serve as expected. Myles Martin and Micah Jordan pinned their opponents, while Joey McKenna recorded a tech fall. Kollin Moore managed a major decision in his opening bout; he, McKenna and Jordan are each the No. 2 seed in their bracket, while Martin is the team's lone No. 1 seed in the tournament.
Luke Pletcher, the team's fifth returning All American from last year's national runner-up squad, was also the fifth Buckeye to win with bonus points attached in the first round, winning a major decision of his own.
All five of the heavy hitters looked good in their matches, exerting their will and performing well in every phase. The five of them will need to not only advance deep in the tournament, but continue winning majors or better for the Buckeyes to have any hope of narrowing the gap with Cael Sanderson's League of Assassins.
Moore will face Oklahoma's Jake Woodley (22-8), an 18-seed who needed overtime to win a 4-3 decision over No. 15 Randall Diabe of Appalachian State. Martin gets Corey Hazel of Lock Haven (16-3), the No. 16 seed.
At 149, The Mongoose faces Max Thomsen of Northern Iowa (22-8), while McKenna gets a rematch with Oklahoma State's Kaid Brock (20-7) at 141. He upended Brock at the NWCA All-Star Classic in his first match of the season.
Pletcher will continue his quest for another All-America finish against Montorie Bridges of Wyoming (30-8), the No. 12 seed in the 133-pound bracket.
Survive and Advance
Chase Singletary, Te'Shan Campbell and Ke-Shawn Hayes each earned decisions in their first-round bouts.
Singletary, the redshirt freshman heavyweight, had the lowest tally on the scoreboard but one of the more dominant performances of the round. He defeated Nebraska's David Jensen for the second time this season, 3-0, and did so by riding the much heavier Jensen for the entirety of the second period and then scoring a reversal and rideout in the third.
At 165 Campbell looked like he might be in trouble after No. 12 Ebed Jarrell of Drexel rode him for much of the second period. But in front of his hometown crowd Campbell turned it on in the final period of the match, scoring a takedown and hitting the "Te'Shan Tilt" for a 4-point nearfall and the 6-0 decision.
Ke'Shawn Hayes was every bit as dominant as his teammates from the top position, getting 4 near-fall points in the second period and adding the riding time bonus, as well. His only takedown came in the first period, and he waited too long to cut Zac Carson loose in the third period to get the major decision.
Still, in all three cases the Buckeye looked good on top and did what it took to win their matches. Hayes faces No. 6 Kaleb Young of Iowa (22-5) in the Round of 16, while Campbell faces No. 5 Chance Marsteller of Lock Haven (24-2).
Chase Singletary's reward for his first-round heroics, on the other hand? Facing No. 1 seed Derek White of Oklahoma State, who looks like a hybrid of Brock Lesnar and John Cena.
|125||No. 8 Vitali Arajua (Cornell), major decision over No. 25 Malik Heinselman, 12-2||0.0|
|133||No. 5 Luke Pletcher, major decision over No. 28 Tim Rooney (Kent State), 12-3||2.0|
|141||No. 2 Joey McKenna, victory by TECH FALL over No. 31 Grant Willits (Oregon State), 20-5||2.5|
|149||No. 2 Micah Jordan, victory by FALL over No. 31 Shayne Oster (Northwestern), 3:17||3.0|
|157||No. 11 Ke-Shawn Hayes, decision over No. 22 Zac Carson (Ohio), 7-1||1.0|
|165||No. 21 Te'Shan Campbell, decision over No. 12 Ebed Jarrell (Drexel), 6-0||1.0|
|174||No. 14 Kimball Bastian (Utah Valley), decision over No. 19 Ethan Smith, 6-4 TB-1||0.0|
|184||No. 1 Myles Martin, victory by FALL over No. 32 Bob Coleman (Oregon State), 3:22||3.0|
|197||No. 2 Kollin Moore, major decision over No. 31 Brett Perry (Buffalo), 12-3||2.0|
|HWT||No. 16 Chase Singletary, decision over No. 17 David Jensen (Nebraska), 3-0||1.0|
The Buckeyes are back in action at 7 p.m., when Session II gets underway with the first consolation matches and Round of 16 action. Matches will air live on ESPN, and action on all eight mats is being streamed via WatchESPN.