Senior captains Luke Pletcher and Kollin Moore rolled to impressive victories in their final matches on Ohio State's home mat, leading the Buckeyes to a 28-10 Senior Day victory over the No. 23 Northwestern Wildcats.
Ohio State won seven of 10 matches on the afternoon, including a pin by Fritz Schierl and four other bouts by major decision. The meet capped Ohio State's home schedule with a bang; the Buckeyes travel next weekend to Penn State for the final dual of the season.
Schierl's match put the first points of the night on the board for Ohio State, getting the home crowd back into the match after No. 13 Ethan Smith stumbled late in a 10-9 decision to No. 18 Shane Oster. Oster came on late in the third with a flurry of activity and Smith couldn't escape to force a sudden victory period.
Standing in for Kaleb Romero at 174, Schierl blew the match open early: after scoring the first takedown of the match, he took Northwestern's Ankhaa Enkhmandakh feet-to-back for a six-point move:
He led 8-1 after the first period and extended the lead to 13-3 after two. The third period was the capstone for an all-around excellent match for the curly-haired assassin, as he locked up a cradle around the 6-minute mark and put Enkhmandakh away:
It put Ohio State ahead in the team score, and the Buckeyes never looked back.
Rocky Jordan, Moore, and Gary Traub won three in a row to make it a 17-3 Ohio State lead, with Jordan and Traub earning major decisions over unranked opponents. Moore faced No. 13 Lucas Davison, a wrestler who hasn't dropped a bout since the Midlands tournament, and who gave No. 1 a good test ahead of Penn State and the postseason tournaments.
Moore, who now has 106 career wins to his credit as a Buckeye, thanked the crowd after the match to a well-earned standing ovation.
Dylan Koontz stood in for Malik Heinselman at 125, as Heinselman wrestled in the Greyhound Open in Indianapolis (as did Quinn Kinner at 157 and Gavin Hoffman at 285). Head coach Tom Ryan said after the meet that the staff will decide later this week which man gets the start at Penn State, and their performance there will go a long way to determining who represents Ohio State at the Big Ten tournament in Piscataway, N.J.
Koontz wrestled a tough match against No. 11 Michael DeAugustino, frustrating the ranked Wildcat with his Greco-Roman approach to folkstyle wrestling. Koontz had his hooks in DeAugustino more than once but couldn't score the takedown, and Ryan said after the match he wanted to see Koontz attempt some more leg attacks next time out.
Jordan Decatur, Luke Pletcher and Sammy Sasso all ran roughshod over unranked opponents, with Decatur and Pletcher earning major decisions. Decatur showed why Ohio State has high hopes for him, as he racked up more than 5 minutes of riding time against Dylan Utterback, including 2:40 in the first three minutes.
It was a great match for Decatur, who faced a really tough string of Top-10 opponents in his first month after peeling his redshirt. The team dearly needs him to score points in the postseason if an NCAA team trophy is in the cards this season.
Pletcher's match against Alec McKenna got a little chippy early, as McKenna took a swipe at the No. 1 man in the class and immediately regretted his decision.
Don't anger Luke Pletcher. Fair warning. pic.twitter.com/mCMnMJACeM— Ohio State Wrestling (@wrestlingbucks) February 9, 2020
As the saying goes, if you come at the king, you'd better not miss. McKenna missed.
Elijah Cleary did well against No. 1 Ryan Deakin early in the match, but Deakin pushed the pace late and earned Northwestern's only bonus-point win of the afternoon. The Wildcats sat their ranked wrestlers at 133, 149 and 174.
|165||No. 18 Shane Oster, decision over No. 13 Ethan Smith (10-9)||0||3|
|174||Fritz Schierl, victory by FALL over Ankhaa Enkhmandakh (6:15)||6||3|
|184||No. 13 Rocky Jordan, major decision over Jack Jessen (10-2)||10||3|
|197||No. 1 Kollin Moore, decision over No. 13 Lucas Davison (14-9)||13||3|
|HWT||No. 23 Gary Traub, major decision over Jack Heyob (13-3)||17||3|
|125||No. 11 Michael DeAugustino, decision over Dylan Koontz (3-2)||17||6|
|133||Jordan Decatur, major decision over Dylan Utterback (13-1)||21||6|
|141||No. 1 Luke Pletcher, major decision over Alec McKenna (13-4)||25||6|
|149||No. 1 Sammy Sasso, decision over Eric Yang (9-3)||28||6|
|157||No. 1 Ryan Deakin, major decision over Elijah Cleary (11-2)||28||10|
The dual showcased the home-mat advantage Ohio State has created in building the Covelli Center and Jennings Family Wrestling facility. According to the Athletic Department, attendance for the home finale was 4,657, and the arena sold all of its "standing room only" tickets.
Six seniors were recognized for their contributions to the program: Clay Ragon, Hunter Lucas, Kevin Snyder and Ke-Shawn Hayes joined Pletcher and Moore in celebrating Senior Day. Tom Ryan confirmed after the meet that this will be Hayes' final season in Columbus, ending speculation that the program might seek a sixth season of eligibility for the injury-plagued middleweight, who will finish his master's degree this spring.
Ohio State is back in action Saturday, Feb. 15, at 7:30 p.m. The Buckeye travel to State College to face the defending national champion Penn State Nittany Lions live on the Big Ten Network.