Cody Cousino / Photo editor
The last time the Ohio State wrestling team beat Iowa in 1966, Woody Hayes was still the Buckeyes’ head football coach.
Archie Griffin had yet to play a down for OSU, let alone win two Heisman Trophies.
The United States was in the middle of the Vietnam War under President Lyndon B. Johnson.
And everyone, including the coaching staff, involved with the OSU wrestling team had yet to live in a world that saw their school win against Iowa.
That all changed Friday night though, after the No. 7 Buckeyes toppled No. 2 Iowa, 21-9, at St. John Arena.
Besides being the team’s first win over the Hawkeyes in 46 seasons, the win was also a look into the future of Buckeye wrestling.
With seven freshmen or redshirt freshmen starters, OSU is arguably one of the youngest teams in not only the Big Ten, but in Division I wrestling.
Freshmen Johnni Dijulius, Hunter Stieber, Cam Tessari, Derek Garcia, Andrew Campolattano and redshirt freshmen Logan Stieber and Josh Demas won a combined 25 state championships in high school.
Logan Stieber, Hunter Stieber, Tessari, Garcia and Campolattano are all four-time state champions.
Out of those seven, six were able to defeat their Iowa counterpart, and those six victories accounted for all but one of the wins OSU scored against the Hawkeyes.
Logan Stieber, Hunter Stieber and Garcia knocked off the No. 2-, No. 3- and No. 6-ranked wrestlers, respectively, in their weight classes by a combined score of 17-7.
Just two weeks ago, some were questioning if the youth of the Buckeyes was catching up to them after dropping their first two matches of the season on the road to ranked competition against No. 8 Nebraska and No. 4 Minnesota.
Most of those sentiments, though, were put to rest against an Iowa squad that had yet to lose a Big Ten duel this year.
Besides being a memorable moment for the program as a whole, Garcia said he thinks finally beating the Hawkeyes proves the legitimacy of their team.
“We went out and we didn’t wrestle our best against Nebraska and Minnesota and I think we kind of had a little downer there,” Garcia said. “But we showed everybody right now that we are real.”
Hunter Stieber, who defeated a two-time All-American in Iowa’s Montell Marion, agreed that this was a big statement for a young Ohio State team with aspirations of winning it all.
“It feels amazing. It’s awesome. Everyone wrestled extremely well … it was amazing, everyone came together, worked hard all week, worked hard all year,” Hunter Stieber said. “We had a few bad dual meets, but I mean, we’re still in the hunt. We can compete and make a run at the national title this year as a team.”
OSU coach Tom Ryan said he knew what he was getting himself into when he left Hofstra to lead the Buckeyes.
“We came here for this,” Ryan said. “We knew this was called the sleeping giant. It’s far from over. I know the men on the other side of the mat. Those guys were teammates, and I know how they react when they get punched in the nose. They do not fall down, they punch back.”
OSU still has three duels left in the Big Ten, including a road trip to defending national champion Penn State next Sunday, Jan. 29, before the National Duals, Big Ten Championships and NCAA Championships begin.
Ryan said the battle is on.
“Ohio State is officially in a fist fight,” he said. “I’m very proud of this group of guys.”