Update: Sammy Sasso finished as the NCAA runner-up at 149 pounds as he fell to Cornell’s Yianni Diakomihalis, 4-2, in Saturday’s night national championship match. Ohio State finished fourth in the overall team standings behind Penn State, Iowa and Cornell as Ohio State’s Kaleb Romero finished third at 184 pounds, Jesse Mendez finished sixth at 133, Ethan Smith finished seventh at 174 and Dylan D’Emilo finished eighth at 141.
Five Ohio State wrestlers earned All-American status at the NCAA Championships this weekend.
Big Ten champion Sammy Sasso headlined the list of Buckeyes, as the 149-pound wrestler is the lone representative for Ohio State in the championship bracket. Sasso has dominated the field in 2023 and defeated No. 3 Kyle Parco of Arizona State, 14-2, in the semifinal bout. In the finals, he will face No. 1 Yianni Diakomihalis of Cornell, an opponent the Nazareth, Pennsylvania, native has never beaten (0-2) in his decorated college career.
.— Ohio State Wrestling (@wrestlingbucks) March 17, 2023
Sammy Sasso edges Thomas (NW) 2-1 with a riding time point to become a All-American. #GoBucks pic.twitter.com/rihWOSjP6b
Jesse Mendez (133 pounds), Dylan D'Emilio (141), Ethan Smith (174) and Kaleb Romero (184) also became All-Americans this weekend. Unlike Sasso, however, they accomplished that feat with a blemish on their résumé, as each wrestler suffered a loss in the championship bracket and worked their way back toward the top in consolation matches.
Mendez claimed a victory over Brendan Ferretti of Navy in his initial matchup before losing to No. 4 Michael McGee of Arizona State in the second round. From there, Mendez defeated No. 19 Domenic Zaccone of Campbell, No. 11 Dylan Ragusin of Michigan and No. 10 Lucas Byrd of Illinois to earn All-American status in his true freshman season at Ohio State.
=— Ohio State Wrestling (@wrestlingbucks) March 18, 2023
Jesse Mendez, All-American. #GoBucks pic.twitter.com/2STiipKnDX
D'Emilio also started his tournament with a victory against a Navy wrestler, with his win coming over Josh Koderhandt. He then lost a narrow 7-5 decision to top-seeded Real Woods of Iowa in the second round. In the consolation bracket, the Curtice, Ohio, native beat No. 15 Tom Crook of Virginia Tech, No. 23 Cole Mattin of Michigan and No. 3 Cole Matthews of Pitt to claim his first All-American honor in his fourth year with the Buckeyes.
A deserving All-American.— Ohio State Wrestling (@wrestlingbucks) March 18, 2023
17th seeded DEmilio takes out the 3 seed in the blood round to achieve AA status#GoBucks pic.twitter.com/wOzKBtkOzG
Smith and Romero, two anchors in the Ohio State program for several years, were locks for All-American status in 2022, with both wrestlers earning the honor for the third time in their respective careers.
Smith defeated Tyler Eischens of Stanford in his first-round matchup but lost to Nelson Brands of Iowa in the second round. In the wrestlebacks, he took down Troy Fisher of Northwestern, No. 21 Lennox Wolak of Colorado and No. 6 Bailee O'Reilly of Minnesota en route to the All-American award.
As for Romero, the Mechanicsburg, Ohio, native claimed two wins in the championship bracket with victories against Caleb Hopkins of Campbell and Colton Hawks of Missouri. His first loss came in the quarterfinal round against former NCAA champion and current No. 3 seed Aaron Brooks of Penn State. Romero immediately bounced back from that defeat with a decisive win over No. 25 Brian Bonino of Drexel to claim his spot among America's best grapplers.
. #GoBucks pic.twitter.com/5rQjZ4qXBx— Ohio State Wrestling (@wrestlingbucks) March 18, 2023
On Saturday, Sasso will battle Diakomihalis in the 149-pound championship after 6 p.m. on Saturday. The other wrestlers mentioned above will take the stage much earlier, however, as each has an opportunity to improve their final position in the tournament in medal round matches that will start after 10 a.m. The medal round matches will be broadcast on ESPNU and ESPN+, while the championship matches will air on ESPN.
With 64 points, Ohio State is fourth in the team standings entering the final day of competition behind Penn State (116.5), Iowa (77) and Cornell (64).
This year, Ohio State had nine wrestlers compete at the NCAA Championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In addition to the Buckeyes' five All-Americans, Paddy Gallager (157), Carson Kharchla (165), Gavin Hoffman (197) and Tate Orndorff (HWT) represented the scarlet and gray.
While those athletes did not earn distinguished honors, each secured at least one victory at the tournament. Additionally, all except for Orndorff can return to Ohio State next season, which means their stories as Buckeyes are far from over as the 2023 season comes to an end this weekend.