CLEVELAND — It took Ohio State one session for many of its wrestlers to get over their opening jitters.
Whether it was the pressure of wanting desperately to win a national title or from wrestling in their home state, the Buckeyes had a lethargic opening session on Thursday at Quicken Loans Arena despite winning all 10 of their matches.
They were more dominant in the round of 16 Thursday night, even if Te’Shan Campbell, at 165 pounds, was the first and only Buckeye to lose. Seven Ohio State wrestlers earned bonus points in the second round, allowing the Buckeyes to score 36 points to take a comfortable lead on Penn State, which has 28.5.
“We looked a lot better tonight than this morning,” Ohio State coach Tom Ryan said. “The nerves got to a couple of guys in the morning. When you can find a way to get through those matches in the first round, you’re in good shape.”
The Buckeyes indeed are in good shape. They have a comfortable lead in the team standings and are poised to build on it with nine wrestlers in Friday’s quarterfinals.
“We thought we could go 20-0, but 19-1 is good,” heavyweight Kyle Snyder said. “I feel real good about tomorrow.”
Snyder, who is trying to win his third consecutive NCAA title, breezed through his bouts, winning 15-5 over Pittsburgh’s Ryan Solomon and getting a tech fall over Jere Heino of Campbell 23-8.
Joey McKenna was dominating at 141 pounds in both sessions, winning by a combined score of 31-1.
But several other wrestlers struggled in their first match. Senior Bo Jordan eked out an overtime victory at 174 with a takedown, but he was disappointed with himself afterward.
“It was really tough,” he said. “Nothing was working out there. Nothing felt good. But no matter what’s going on and how I feel, I’ve got to bring the right fight like I did in past matches.”
He did just that in the evening. He rolled to a 12-3 victory over David Kocer of South Dakota State just minutes after his brother Micah got a pin at 157.
Kollin Moore, the top seed at 197, struggled to a 12-8 victory in his first match. Ryan attributed the sluggishness in part to not eating — or eating enough — between his weigh-in and his bout.
“Kollin Moore is a Maserati who had no fuel in the tank,” Ryan said. “He had bad gasoline.”
But in his second match, Moore won by major decision. Myles Martin, the No. 2 seed at 184, also rolled 17-5 over Iowa’s Mitchell Bowman to reach the quarterfinals.
After the afternoon session, Ryan challenged his wrestlers to cut loose.
“Tonight, the message in the meeting was, ‘Be a beacon of light,’ ” he said. “ ‘You have trained your whole life for this. Be the match that for the 19,000 people here, their eyes move to. Be that guy lighting it up, scoring a lot of points, that people want to see.’ And we did a better job tonight.”