It was a clean sweep for the Buckeyes in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Wrestling Championships in Pittsburgh. Five wrestlers entered PPG Paints Arena hoping to secure a second, third or fourth All-America finish, and five wrestlers left the mat victorious.
Luke Pletcher got the day off to a good start for a Buckeye team grappling with the likes of Iowa and Oklahoma State for second place in the team standings. Pletcher is the only member of Ohio State's veteran quintet not to earn a top-2 seed to the tournament, but he performed well out of the 5 spot at 133 pounds.
Facing No. 4 Micky Phillippi of Pittsburgh, an opponent Pletcher knows well from their days in Pennsylvania high school competition, the junior took a methodical approach to the match as is his style. He scored early in the first period, finishing a single-leg with a trip on the edge of the circle.
He held the 2-0 lead at the end of the first period, but allowed Phillippi to escape early in the second. That period ended with just a 2-1 Buckeye advantage; Pletcher would extend the lead by a point with a quick escape in the third, and locked up a second All-America finish with the 3-1 decision.
With the win, he'll face No. 1 seed Daton Fix of Oklahoma in Friday night's semifinals.
A match later, No. 2 Joey McKenna took on Big Ten foe Mitch McKee of Minnesota. The 141-pounders have met before to similar results: McKenna put on a tactical clinic, winning the first period with a 4-point move, adding a 4-point near fall in the second, a takedown in the third and a bushel basket of riding time.
With the 11-1 major decision, he advances to face No. 3 Nick Lee of Penn State in the semifinals and becomes a three-time All-American.
At 149 pounds, Micah Jordan had plans of becoming a three-timer as well. He faced No. 10 Pat Lugo in a match that also had team-score implications given that the Hawkeyes fielded an impressive seven quarterfinalists.
The Mongoose had no trouble dispatching the Hawkeye. He struck twice in the first period, added another takedown and an escape in the second, and put a fourth on the mat in the third. With riding time he picked up the 10-3 decision and will wrestle No. 6 Austin O’Connor of North Carolina in the semis Friday night.
Myles Martin, the undefeated No. 1 seed at 184-pounds, plowed through No. 8 Ryan Preisch of Lehigh in his quarterfinal match. Martin had takedowns aplenty and gave up nothing on defense, sealing the 11-2 major decision and a fourth All-America finish.
Martin's final chapter as a Buckeye is far from written. He handled Dean in Ithaca a month ago, and has a clear path to a second NCAA Championship if he takes care of business Friday night.
With the quarterfinal victory, he became just the 7th Buckeye in school history to earn four All America placements at the NCAA tournament, joining the likes of the legendary 2018 trio of four-timers Kyle Snyder, Bo Jordan and Nathan Tomasello.
Kollin Moore secured his place in the team record books, winning his quarterfinal match and becoming a three-time All American in his junior campaign. Moore faced No. 10 Tom Sleigh, and let the Hookie hang around longer than fans might have liked before finally punching his ticket to the semifinals with a 17-11 decision.
He'll face No. 3 Preston Weigel of Oklahoma State in the semifinals.
If It's Any Consolation...
Ohio State may have swept the quarterfinals, but finished just 3-2 in the first set of consolation matches Friday.
True freshman lightweight Malik Heinselman couldn't get past Brent Fleetwood of North Dakota State, and Ke-Shawn Hayes came up short against Pitt Panther Taleb Rahmani at 157. Their watch is ended, and the pair will spend the rest of the tournament cheering on their teammates.
Ohio State's upper weights, on the other hand, got the job done in the wrestleback. Te'Shan Campbell had the match of the session, picking up a first-period pin at 165 pounds. He caught Troy Keller of Buffalo in a cradle and it was goodnight nurse for Keller.
Campbell not only survived to keep his All America dreams alive, but he added 2.5 team points to the Buckeye total.
At 174 Ethan Smith seemed to gain momentum as his match went on, and he finished with a 7-3 decision over Spencer Carey of Navy. Chase Singletary did much the same in the heavyweight bout, picking up the go-ahead takedown in the final minute of the match to win a 3-1 decision.
The second set of consolation matches saw the Buckeyes go just 1-2, however.
Te'Shan Campbell continued to look like a man on a mission in the wrestlebacks, following his first match of the day with a backpoint-heavy 7-1 decision over No. 13 Andrew Fogarty of North Dakota State. He'll wrestle Friday night in his first bloodround against No. 7 Isaiah White of Nebraska, a foe he's faced roughly 47 times over the course of their careers.
Things did not go so well for Ethan Smith at 174 of Chase Singletary at heavyweight. Smith dropped a close decision to Dylan Lydy of Purdue, and Singletary came up short in the final frame against Ian Butterbrodt of Brown.
Lydy just seems to have Smith's number this season, and Singletary looked to have a takedown to tie the match late in the third, but officials felt he didn't have control before the combatants left the circle. Ohio State threw the brick, but after review the call on the mat stood.
|125||No. 10 Brent Fleetwood (N. Dakota State), major decision over No. 25 Malik Heinselman, 10-0||0.0 (Cons.)|
|133||No. 5 Luke Pletcher, decision over No. 4 Micky Phillippi (Pitt), 3-1||
|141||No. 2 Joey McKenna, major decision over No. 7 Mitch McKee (Minnesota), 11-1||
|149||No. 2 Micah Jordan, decision over No. 10 Pat Lugo (Iowa), 10-3||
|157||No. 12 Taleb Rahmani (PItt), decision over No. 11 Ke-Shawn Hayes, 7-1||0.0 (Cons.)|
No. 21 Te'Shan Campbell, victory by FALL over No. 27 Troy Keller (Buffalo), 1:10
No. 21 Te'Shan Campbell, decision over No. 13 Andrew Fogarty (N. Dakota State), 7-1
No. 19 Ethan Smith, decision over Spencer Carey (Navy), 7-3
No. 11 Dylan Lydy (Purdue), decision over No. 19 Ethan Smith, 4-2
|184||No. 1 Myles Martin, major decision over No. 8 Ryan Preisch (Lehigh), 11-2||
|197||No. 2 Kollin Moore, decision over Tom Sleigh (Virginia Tech), 17-11||
No. 16 Chase Singletary, decision over No. 18 Joseph Goodhart (Drexel), 3-1
No. 26 Ian Butterbrodt (Brown), decision over No. 16 Chase Singletary, 2-0
Action continues in Pittsburgh at 8 p.m. Friday, with five Buckeyes in the semifinals and Te'Shan Campbell in a big-time bloodround bout for a shot at his first All America placement. Session 4 will air live on ESPN, and all six mats will stream live via WatchESPN.
Penn State holds a commanding lead in the team race, but Ohio State secured its hold on second place with an outstanding quarterfinal showing. Iowa, by comparison, had a disastrous afternoon, going 2-5 in the championship bracket.
The Cowboys, Hawkeyes and Wolverines all trail the Buckeyes by a significant margin going into the evening session.