No. 8 Ohio State Corrals No. 17 Cornell In Front of Sold-Out Crowd at Covelli Center, 23-9

By Andy Vance on December 1, 2019 at 5:35 pm
Ethan Smith

Ohio State won four of the first five bouts of the night in front of a near-capacity audience, cruising to a 23-9 victory over Cornell in the team's last dual meet of 2019. The Buckeyes finished with wins in seven of 10 matches against a really sound opposing roster.

Call Ethan Smith and Kaleb Romero the dynamic duo from now on – the pair of redshirt sophomores blew the lid off the sellout Covelli Center crowd with back-to-back showing the kind of intensity head coach Tom Ryan has been calling for all season. Smith got the hometown fans back in the match with a major decision at 165, and Romero upset the No. 11 wrestler in the class with a pair of takedowns in the final period.

It was a great outing for the classmates, both of whom saw action a year ago and both of whom faced their share of adversity in their debut seasons, particularly Romero, who said Tuesday ahead of the meet that he is wrestling with a much different mindset this season.

“Last year I lost confidence in myself, I didn't really believe in myself,” he admitted. “This year I'm just going out with nothing to lose, just going out and wrestling and trying to make things happen.”

He certainly made things happen against Womack, starting with a blast double early in the final period to break things open and get the crowd on its feet. He tacked on another takedown for the go-ahead score, advancing to 8-0 on the season with the 6-5 decision.

Smith got the party started early in his match against Milik Dawkins, piling on the takedowns in the first period and racing out to an early lead. A third-period takedown and riding time pushed the score out to major-decision territory.

Senior Moments

Top-ranked Luke Pletcher and Kollin Moore continue to set the tone for the team, as the senior captains won their matches against decent, if unranked competition. The team's elder statesmen remain undefeated on the season, each advancing to 9-0.

Pletcher opened the afternoon's action against a fellow true senior, Noah Baughman, at 141 pounds. Baughman came into the match 9-1, but Pletcher took care of business, finishing three takedowns to Baughman's one.

Moore did what Moore does: put on a takedown clinic. After Jonathan Loew snagged the first points of the match it was all Moore, with the Buckeye finishing six takedowns to go with two escapes, a 2-point near fall late in the match, and the riding time bonus.

It was vintage Moore, and the type of match fans have come to expect from the class leader at 197 pounds.

Win The Third

Romero got the job done in the final frame, as did heavyweight Gary Traub. With the meet well in hand, Ryan and company opted to send out Traub in place of No. 8 Chase Singletary, and the redshirt junior didn't disappoint.

Wrestling a heavier heavyweight who won via fall the last time the two titans met, Traub lived Ryan's mantra about wrestling a full seven minutes. Trailing 3-1 heading into the final period Traub not only escaped from the bottom position, but won an epic scramble on the edge of the mat in the waning seconds to take the lead and bring the crowd to its feet.

The crowd loved everything about the final minute of the match, rewarding Traub with a raucous round of, "Gar-ee! Gar-ee! Gar-ee!" chants reminiscent of Jerry Springer. 

At the opposite end of the spectrum, 149-pound standout Sammy Sasso won his match in the first three minutes of the bout, and held off a late charge from Hunter Richard to preserve the victory. After finishing a pair of takedowns and picking up a penalty point from Richard, Sasso had a comfortable 7-3 lead heading into the final period.

He escaped from the bottom position quickly, but after picking up another penalty point as Richard was flagged again for stalling, the Cornell competitor notched his first takedown of the match in pretty quick order. Richard would get two more takedowns to pull within three points at the end of the match, and Sasso survived for the win.

It was a reminder that although Sasso's potential is as high or higher than anyone on the team, he has plenty of room for growth and improvement as the season progresses.

Match Results: Ohio State 23, Cornell 9
Wt Results OSU CORN
141 No. 1 Luke Pletcher, decision over Noah Baughman (8-6) 3 0
149 No. 10 Sammy Sasso, decision over Hunter Richard (12-9) 6 0
157 Colton Yapoujian, decision over Elijah Cleary (3-1, TB-2) 6 3
165 No. 14 Ethan Smith, major decision over Milik Dawkins (12-4) 10 3
174 No. 13 Kaleb Romero, decision over No. 11 Brandon Womack (6-5) 13 3
184 No. 4 Ben Darmstadt, decision over Gavin Hoffman (5-0) 13 6
197 No.1 Kollin Moore, major decision over Jonathan Lowe (18-6) 17 6
285 Gary Traub, decision over Brendan Furman (4-3) 20 6
125 Malik Heinselman, decision over Dom LaJoie (8-4). 23 6
133 No. 6 Chas Tucker, decision over Dylan Koontz (12-5) 23 9

Cornell won three matches on the night: true freshman Colton Yapoujian rode out Elijah Cleary in the tiebreakers at 157 pounds, No. 4 Ben Darmstadt smothered Gavin Hoffman in a 5-0 shutout at 184, and No. 6 Chas Tucker outhorsed Dylan Koontz at 133.

Darmstadt is one of the tougher battles Hoffman will face in his class, and the staff is still searching for answers at 157 and 133. Quinn Kinner should wrestle next weekend at the Cliff Keen, and Jaden Mattox is likely to compete in the tournament as well.

Sunday marked Ohio State's last dual meet of 2019. The Buckeyes return to tournament action Friday and Saturday at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, where they will look to win a fourth-consecutive title.

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