Ohio State’s wrestling season so far has been a success by most objective measures.
The Buckeyes are ranked No. 2 nationally with a loss at top-ranked Penn State as their only blemish. But there’s also a view, shared by coach Tom Ryan, that Ohio State hasn’t peaked.
To win the Big Ten championships this weekend in East Lansing, Michigan, they will have to.
“In no one weekend did 10 guys wrestle the way they can,” Ryan can. “We’re banking on this as the first of two weekends when that happens.”
The second weekend Ryan referred to is the NCAA championships in Cleveland in two weeks. With Penn State, No. 4 Michigan and No. 7 Iowa, the Big Ten championship will reveal how ready Ohio State will be for that.
“I think it’s been a little bit of a roller coaster for us,” sophomore Luke Pletcher said. “We started really good. Everybody was doing great. Then we kind of slowed down a little bit. The grind of the season started to catch up to us. The last match (a blowout at North Carolina State), I think we wrestled tough and things started to click.”
There will be no shortage of expected high-profile matches this weekend. Probably the most anticipated is at heavyweight between Ohio State’s Kyle Snyder and Michigan’s Adam Coon. In the teams' dual match, the Buckeyes barely squeaked past Michigan after Coon upset Snyder.
“Coon wrestled a great match last time,” Ryan said. “He’s a noble opponent. He’s someone we really respect.”
But Ryan also pointed out that Snyder had recently returned from a grueling tournament in Russia.
“Coon is going to get the very best Kyle can offer,” Ryan said. “That I can guarantee.”
Joey McKenna at 141 pounds and Kollin Moore at 197 are the only Buckeyes pre-seeded No. 1 in their weight classes by league coaches. Pletcher (133), Bo Jordan (174), Myles Martin (184) and Snyder are each pre-seeded No. 2.
Nathan Tomasello is No. 3 in a loaded 125-pound weight group behind Rutgers’ Nick Suriano and Iowa’s Spencer Lee.
“We’ve had a couple talks as a team,” Pletcher said. “Every point is going to matter. We don’t know how close it’s going to be. We don’t want to be that one person who doesn’t score that extra bonus point or extra takedown.
“We’ve been saying it for a long time: We think we’re the best team in the country, and we’ve got two weeks to prove it.”