The match began with disappointment and ended a tad anticlimactically, but the Ohio State wrestling team got what it sought on Sunday in its home finale.
The second-ranked Buckeyes sent their seniors out with a 22-12 Big Ten victory over No. 4 Iowa in front of 15,117 spectators at Value City Arena, the second-largest crowd in OSU history.
“That was a lot of fun,” Ohio State coach Tom Ryan said. “For me, it’s 25 years of enjoying lots of things about the sport and there are just not that many opportunities — we’re hoping they’re more and more frequent here — to compete in an environment like that with people like we have.”
This was the final match at Ohio State for Kyle Snyder, as well as for Bo Jordan and Nathan Tomasello.
It didn’t go well for the top-ranked Tomasello in the opening 125-pound match. Despite being the aggressor most of the match — setting the trend for OSU with that — Tomasello lost to sixth-ranked Spencer Lee 3-2, with the riding time bonus as the difference.
“We feel for him,” Ryan said. “He has been a foundational piece of this program. We know one thing about Nate — he’s as fired up as ever.”
Luke Pletcher (133) and Joey McKenna (141) won comfortable decisions in the next matches for Ohio State, but Iowa’s Brandon Sorensen edged Ke-Shawn Hayes at 149 and Micah Jordan fell to second-ranked Michael Kemerer at 157. When Ohio native Alex Marinelli defeated the Buckeyes’ Te’Shan Campbell at 165, Iowa led 12-7.
But Ohio State’s heavier classes are stacked, so Ryan wasn’t particularly worried. Sure enough, Bo Jordan at 174 needed only five seconds to get a takedown on Iowa freshman Kaleb Young and won 10-5. That was followed by comfortable wins by Myles Martin at 184 and Kollin Moore at 197 to put the Buckeyes (10-0, 5-0) ahead 17-12.
With Snyder closing it out, Iowa (9-1, 4-1) would need a miracle, and Hawkeyes coach Tom Brands didn’t want to attempt it. His heavyweight, third-ranked Sam Stoll, has been battling a knee injury, so he subbed in Steven Holloway as the sacrificial lamb.
“I didn’t care either way who I wrestled,” Snyder said. “They made a decision they thought was probably best for (Stoll).”
Snyder, the reigning Olympic and world champion, did as he wanted, scoring takedown after takedown for a 24-9 technical fall. It might not have been a clash of titans, but it didn’t detract from Snyder’s home finale.
He savored wrestling in front of such a large crowd, which included Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer, who joined the wrestling coaches on the mat midway through the match.
“Overseas, there’s great competition,” Snyder said, “but you don’t really get an environment like this almost anywhere else in the world. How can you be let down when you’re still going to run out and compete in front of so many people?”
Bo Jordan won four state titles for St. Paris Graham High School at this venue, and he savored a final appearance.
“When I wrestled at the Schott in high school, everyone was rooting against me,” he said with a smile. “So it was nice to have pretty much every fan in here rooting for you.”
Jordan said the coaches told him before his match to enjoy the moment. That went for Ryan as well.
“You put so much time and energy and work into this, and sometimes you can just get lost in the stress of it and the results of it,” he said. “I really focused on the blessing it has been to have (Kyle) and Bo and Nate in my life.
“Every human being wants to surround themselves with people like these guys. They have made me a better coach, a better husband, a better friend. I admire them. It’s a two-way street. I’ve learned a lot from these guys.”