Kollin Moore and Luke Pletcher know this is their last ride.
For three years, they have been stalwarts for the Ohio State wrestling program. Moore has an 88-11 career record and was an NCAA runner-up last season after placing fourth and third the previous two years. Pletcher has an 87-20 career record and is coming off consecutive fourth-place NCAA finishes.
This season, however, Moore and Pletcher have to grapple with a new opponent — the end of their time at Ohio State.
“Seniors matter so much, and these are two great ones,” coach Tom Ryan said. “They’ve set a great example in every way possible. The team loves them. Having those two really show the way for the freshmen is big. It’s too bad they’re seniors, but we want to send them out with a special year.”
That year started last weekend when the Buckeyes competed in the Michigan State Open, where Pletcher and Moore both finished 5-0.
Pletcher defeated Oklahoma’s Dom Demas, a Dublin Coffman graduate who entered as the top-ranked wrestler in the 141-pound weight class. Pletcher, who was named Big Ten co-wrestler of the week for his efforts, is now ranked No. 1 in the country by FloWrestling. Pletcher moved up to 141 this season after previously wrestling at 133.
“I just feel better when I’m not worrying about my weight,” he said. “I just had a really good summer of training at 151, 153 pounds max, and I just felt good and didn’t want to go down. I talked to the coaches and told them that I was getting better and didn’t want to go down and risk losing whatever it might be.”
Pletcher’s spot at 133 has been taken by redshirt freshman Quinn Kinner, who went 4-2 in the Michigan State Open and impressed Ryan.
“Kinner was a real bright spot this past weekend,” Ryan said. “He did a great job of being disciplined and making his weight. He had a ton of energy. … To cut that kind of weight and have that energy is a good sign.”
Another underclassman who has impressed early in the season is redshirt freshman Sammy Sasso at 149.
“He loves the sport, he’s a savage competitor and he’s a consummate learner," Ryan said. "He has so much knowledge of the sport.”
The Buckeyes continue their 100th season Sunday when they take on Stanford at 7 p.m. The dual meet will be their first competition at the Covelli Center, Ohio State’s new multisport facility.
“We’re excited about the new facility,” Ryan said. “(I think) this will be a suffocating environment and one of the great venues in the country.”