Ohio State opened its new competition venue in high style, showing off for the home crowd with a light show and pyrotechnics. The No. 3-ranked Buckeyes put on a show on the mat as well, winning nine of 10 matches and defeating Stanford 29-6.
The Buckeye starters looked crisp in their new black singlets in front of 3,598 fans in their first-ever dual meet at the Covelli Center, and raced out to a 12-0 lead in the team race before Stanford won their first – and only – match of the night. No. 8 Shane Griffin not only put the Cardinal on the board, he took the air out of the home crowd with a pin at the 6:15 mark of the match.
From there on out it was all Ohio State, as the home team won the final five matches including major decisions by No. 21 Kaleb Romero at 174 and No. 1 Kollin Moore at 197.
Head coach Tom Ryan said after the meet that although he was happy with the win, his team has a lot of work ahead to reach their potential and achieve their goals.
"We've got to get way better," Ryan said. "Tonight it was good enough to go 9-1, and a couple of those matches could have gone the other way."
One of the biggest areas for improvement, he said, is ratcheting up the intensity for a full seven minutes.
"You're always assessing mindset, who is competing at a level where they're constantly looking to score points, we've got to grow there," Ryan said. "There were quite a few instances where we just didn't apply the pressure we needed to apply."
Returning starters No. 1 Luke Pletcher at 141 pounds, top-ranked Moore at 197 and No. 9 Chase Singletary at heavyweight are three men who already had their starting spots locked down.
No. 5 Sammy Sasso added his name to that list with a dominant run at the Michigan State Open and another victory versus No. 19 Requir van der Merwe in the 149-pound class on Sunday night.
Likewise, No. 20 Quinn Kinner at 133, who looks surprisingly comfortable after cutting down from 141. Ryan said the only issue for Kinner is managing his energy at the lighter weight.
From there on out, Ryan said he and his staff continue to evaluate their options.
"We wanted to learn about 125, you know I don't think we learned that much tonight," he said. "You're up early, but you stop wrestling. You can't stop wrestling."
Malik Heinselman had to grit out a 6-3 decision over an unranked opponent, which will likely give the staff pause about his chances to handle the ranked wrestlers he'll see early and often in the Big Ten schedule.
Elijah Cleary won the night's most exciting match at 157, battling back from a rocky start to trade reversals with Tyler Eischens and take the match to Sudden Victory. The crowd loved the fight from Cleary, but Ryan said Jaden Mattox is still very much in the mix for the starting spot, though he's hopeful that a win Sunday will give Cleary the confidence he needs to keep getting better.
Fans loved No. 21 Kaleb Romero's offense at 174 pounds. The four-time Ohio high school state champ picked up a major decision that featured six takedowns, including some powerful double-leg moves.
Evaluating Romero's performance, Ryan said there was plenty of upside yet for the redshirt sophomore to keep getting better as the season progresses.
"I just think he's got to be more intentional that, 'I'm going to be all over this guy,'" Ryan said. "It can't be spurts of, 'I'm going to go get a double-leg,' and then spurts where we're hanging out out there."
Ryan said when you look ahead to the toughest battles Romero and his teammates will face, that intentional mindset will be critical to the team's success.
Zach Steiner at 184 and heavyweight Gary Traub both won decisions with moments that got the crowd on their feet. How long Steiner holds the starting spot is one of Ryan's questions; Gavin Hoffman was the presumed starter heading into the season, but lost to Steiner in the wrestle-off and fell short in East Lansing last weekend.
Hoffman joined several teammates at the Ohio Intercollegiate Open tournament Sunday, with Carson Kharchla (165), Rocky Jordan (174) and Hoffman (184) each winning their respective brackets.
|133||No. 20 Quinn Kinner, decision over Brandon Kier (7-1)||3||0|
|141||No. 1 Luke Pletcher, decision over No. 15 Real Woods (SV-1, 2-1)||6||0|
|149||No. 5 Sammy Sasso, decision over No. 19 Requir van der Merwe (3-1)||9||0|
|157||Elijah Cleary, decision over Tyler Eischens (SV-1, 10-8)||12||0|
|165||No. 8 Shane Griffin, victory by FALL over No. 20 Ethan Smith (6:15)||12||6|
|174||No. 21 Kaleb Romero, major decision over Foster Karmon (17-6)||16||6|
|184||Zach Steiner, decision over Nick Addison (9-6)||19||6|
|197||No. 1 Kollin Moore, major decision over No. 12 Nathan Traxler (19-8)||23||6|
|HWT||Gary Traub, decision over David Showunmi (4-3)||26||6|
|125||No. 21 Malik Heinselman, decision over Jackson DiSario (6-3)||29||6|
Ohio State hits the road Friday for a trip to the Steel City, facing the Pitt Panthers at Fitzgerald Field House at 3 p.m. From Pittsburgh, the team will back to Covelli to host the Virginia Tech Hokies next Sunday at noon.