Ohio State wrestling coach Tom Ryan has compared this season to being on a roller coaster ride, and Friday’s match night was no different.
The No. 6-ranked Buckeyes beat No. 10-ranked Michigan, 24-13, in its last home dual of the season, which featured three consecutive overtime matches between the teams. OSU improved to 10-3 overall and 4-3 in the Big Ten.
Less than a week removed after a 25-point defeat against Penn State, Ryan said his team’s intensity was an improvement from before.
“I think that when you put that many people in a place, I don’t know how you can’t be passionate,” Ryan said. “What we saw this week is far beyond what we saw last week.”
It wasn’t just Ryan and his team who shared their passion.
OSU football defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, Luke Fickell, who served as the Buckeye’s honorary coach, was as engaged as anyone on the sideline.
OSU jumped out to an early 9-0 lead after freshman Johnni Dijulius scored a decision against Michigan’s redshirt sophomore Grant Pizzo, 9-5.
Redshirt freshman Logan Stieber added another six points, pinning Michigan’s senior Zac Stevens, bringing the OSU crowd of 5,012 to their feet.
For Stieber, it was his 12th pin on the year and his third in four matches.
“I knew this match I needed bonus points. And I wrestled that kid before, so I knew he was real tough,” he said. “It’s always nice wrestling at home. There was a couple of matches that were real close that we could have won, but I think we wrestled bette r— a lot better.”
Ryan said Stieber “knows what he’s doing.”
“I think people that watch him now can see that when he gets a bar arm, his intensity’s always high, but when he gets a bar arm, it goes through the roof,” Ryan said.
Michigan rallied behind No. 1 redshirt senior Kellen Russell and No. 7 redshirt sophomore Eric Grajales, though, to cut the score to 9-7 with wins against Buckeye freshmen Jarrod Boone and Cam Tessari at 141-pounds and 149-pounds, respectively.
For the next three matches, OSU would take two of three overtime decisions.
157-pound redshirt freshman Josh Demas beat Michigan’s redshirt sophomore Brandon Zeerip, 3-1, in overtime, which Ryan said really began to swing momentum in the Buckeyes’ favor.
The Wolverines would counter with a win, again in overtime, at 165-pounds as redshirt sophomore, No. 14 Dan Yates, defeated OSU freshman Derek Garcia, 7-5.
With OSU’s lead at 12-10, 174-pound redshirt sophomore Nick Heflin defeated redshirt senior, No. 8 Justin Zeerip, in a double-overtime match where both wrestlers scored escapes in the extra periods.
Heflin’s 22 seconds of riding time, though, was enough to put him over the edge.
“Honestly, I was tired but I’m in really good shape,” Heflin said. “After a few losses, the coaches had me in there in the morning’s working hard. So I was prepared for it.”
OSU would pull away from Michigan with wins from 184-pound redshirt junior C.J. Magrum and 197-pound freshman Andrew Campolattano.
Campolattano pinned the Wolverines’ redshirt freshman Chris Heald in 18 seconds, making it the fourth quickest pin in OSU history.
His lead gave the Buckeyes a commanding 24-10 lead, and, essentially, the win.
“Getting a pin in front of a crowd like that, it’s huge,” Campolattano said. “I was just happy I could close out the match with a bang I guess you could say.”
OSU will next travel to East Lansing, Mich., for a Sunday match against Michigan State. The match is set to begin at 2 p.m.