PITTSBURGH — Myles Martin came into the NCAA wrestling championships as Ohio State’s lone No. 1 seed.
Martin was undefeated at 184 pounds and had been called “the best pound-for-pound” wrestler in the tournament by coach Tom Ryan. But after leading 4-3 late, Martin was on the wrong end of a takedown from Cornell’s Max Dean and lost 5-4 in a semifinal on Friday night.
In the team standings, Ohio State was in second place but well behind Penn State, 104.5-80.5. Iowa was third with 69 points.
Martin, who won a national championship as a freshman in 2016, was pinned last year by Penn State’s Bo Nickal — now at 197 — to seal the team championship for Penn State.
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Ryan, at a loss for words initially, said that “sometimes, there is no answer” regarding Martin’s loss Friday.
“You’ve got to trust God’s plan,” Ryan said. “It’s hard to see his plan, and it’s how one of the most dominant wrestlers I’ve coached and I’ve seen could lose a match like that.”
Three Buckeyes advanced to the championship finals Saturday: Micah Jordan (149), Joey McKenna (141) and Kollin Moore (197). Each has a chance to win his first individual title.
Those three will place as All-Americans, as will Martin and Luke Pletcher, who lost his semifinal at 133 pounds.
Last year, Moore came up short as the top seed. He was pinned in the third round by Kent State’s Kyle Conel, who was unseeded at 197. Moore said it took some time for his confidence to come back, “because you keep seeing yourself get pinned on national TV over and over again. It can mess with you a little bit.”
Friday, Moore dominated in his semifinal, defeating No. 3 seed Preston Weigel of Oklahoma State, registering four takedowns in the first two periods and winning 12-4. Moore will face Nickal, who is undefeated and has the only two wins against Moore this season.
Jordan had his first scoreless period of the NCAA meet but added two takedowns to go up 4-3 before the start of the third period. He went on to win his semifinal, 7-4 over Austin O’Connor of North Carolina.
“It was pretty close going throughout the whole match,” Jordan said. “I tried to keep a high pace, and he was strong, and I just wanted to get to my attack.”
In the final, Jordan will face top seed Anthony Ashnault of Rutgers, the only wrestler to defeat Jordan this season.
McKenna advanced to the final by defeating third-ranked Nick Lee of Penn State. McKenna fell behind early but had a takedown to put him ahead 3-2 in the third. Lee added an escape point, but the riding time advantage gave McKenna a 4-3 win.
McKenna will next wrestle Cornell’s Yianni Diakomihalis, who beat him late in the season.
Pletcher fell to top-seeded Daton Fix of Oklahoma State 4-2 in a semifinal. Before that he defeated his friend from high school, Pittsburgh’s Micky Phillippi, with a 3-1 decision.
Malik Heinselman (125) lost his round-two matchup in a major decision to Brent Fleetwood of North Dakota State, followed by Ke-Shawn Hayes (157), who lost in a 7-1 decision to Taleb Rahmani of Pittsburgh.
Ethan Smith (174) and Chase Singletary (285) won their second-round consolation bracket matchups before losing third-round decisions.
Te’Shan Campbell continued his hometown success at 165 pounds Friday afternoon, winning both his consolation matchups. The Pittsburgh native then lost a 3-2 decision in the second round of the tiebreaker to Isaiah White of Nebraska.