PITTSBURGH — It seemed much easier Thursday for Ohio State’s Luke Pletcher in the first round of the NCAA wrestling championships.
The fifth-seeded wrestler at 133 pounds repeatedly lifted and slammed down Tim Rooney of Kent State, racking up takedowns and nearly three minutes of run time on the way to a 12-3 major-decision victory.
His second-round victory did not come as easily. Pletcher had two takedowns in the first period, but Wyoming’s Montorie Bridges brought the score to 5-3 with a riding-time point with 14 seconds remaining.
“I feel if I can get two takedowns in the first, then I can beat anybody,” Pletcher said. “He was picking up his pace, but he really wasn’t shooting too much. I wish I would have had a takedown in the third to ice it.”
Pletcher was one of five Ohio State wrestlers to advance to the quarterfinals.
The Buckeyes received standout performances from top-ranked Myles Martin (184 pounds) and second-seeded Micah Jordan (149), who pinned their first-round opponents and added bonus points in the second round to win by major decisions. Second-seeded Kollin Moore (197) won both of his matches by major decisions.
Joey McKenna, at 141 pounds, added a technical fall in the first round before finishing off his second-round match with a 14-1 major decision. McKenna appeared to have Kaid Brock of Oklahoma State on the brink of a fall, but Brock escaped.
Also for Ohio State, Ke-Shawn Hayes won with a 7-1 decision over Ohio’s Zac Carson at 157 pounds, and Chase Singletary beat his heavyweight counterpart, No. 17 David Jensen of Nebraska, with a 3-0 decision. But both fell in the second round, Hayes in a 14-2 major-decision loss to Iowa’s Kaleb Young and Singletary in a 5-2 decision to top-ranked Derek White of Oklahoma State.
Ohio State knew it would need a few upsets to win the team crown. In the opening round, it got one.
After two scoreless periods, Te’Shan Campbell, the No. 21 wrestler at 165 pounds, grabbed a two-point takedown against No. 12 Ebed Jarrell of Drexel early in the third period. Campbell forced another four-point nearfall to give him the 6-0 decision.
Campbell was unable to replicate the success in the second round, losing a 4-2 decision to Lock Haven’s Chance Marsteller.
The other two underdogs, 125-pound Malik Heinselman and 174-pound Ethan Smith, lost their opening matches. Later, Heinselman won a 9-5 decision and Smith won an 8-6 decision to advance in their wrestlebacks.
Ohio State ended Thursday trailing only Penn State in the team standings, 32.5-25.5.
Jordan said Ohio State remains in the race for the team title, and the key will be to rack up bonus points.
“Penn State is in the lead right now, and you know they have a pretty good lead on us,” Jordan said. “But a lot of things can happen. You watch the national tournament year in and year out, the craziest things happen.”