Jennifer Jung / Lantern photographer
Walking into the first practice of the week at the Steelwood Athletic Training Facility, it seems clear the Ohio State wrestling team does not lack confidence.
With upcoming matches against rival Michigan and No. 1 Penn State, the Buckeyes are treating this week like any other.
“We’re trying to keep everything the same,” said redshirt sophomore Drew Stone. “We did good against Illinois, so we’ll have to replicate everything like that.”
Coming off a 25-9 win against the Fighting Illini Friday, the No. 6 Buckeyes (10-2, 4-2 Big Ten) will take on Michigan (8-5, 2-4 Big Ten) and the 2012 national champions, Penn State (9-1, 6-1 Big Ten), over the weekend.
In their most recent matches, the Wolverines lost a close match to Purdue, 19-18, while the Nittany Lions crushed Illinois, 37-0.
Although Michigan might not pose as big of a threat as Penn State does, OSU redshirt sophomore Logan Stieber said the team is not taking the Wolverines lightly.
“We have to be ready for both teams and not be too up or down for the matches,” the defending 133-pound NCAA Champion said. “Penn State is No. 1 so that’s a big matchup, but Michigan is very good too, so we have to make sure we don’t look past them.”
OSU coach Tom Ryan could not agree more, saying that the team needs to treat each opponent equally.
“We have to prepare for everybody,” Ryan said. “We need to make sure we know what their strengths and weaknesses are and work hard.”
Michigan has four wrestlers ranked in the top 20 in their respective weight classes. The Nittany Lions have eight, six of which are in the top five.
“Right now they (Penn State) have a couple of individuals that are really good,” Ryan said. “I mean real good. They have a great coach. They’re committed to their program. They’re in a wrestling state. They have a lot of good things going on there but so do we. We look forward to wrestling them.”
The Nittany Lions are not the only team with an impressive lineup, as the Buckeyes feature nine wrestlers ranked in the top 20, including two in the top five.
Ryan said the Buckeyes will have to take advantage in the 133- and 141-pound weight classes, as those are the only two classes where Penn State does not have a top 20-ranked wrestler.
“The lighter weights really have to step up,” Ryan said. “We have to pick up bonus points at 133 and 141.”
Those weight classes at OSU are manned by the team’s highest-ranked wrestlers, Stieber, No. 1 at 133-poundsand his brother Hunter Stieber, No. 2 at 141-pounds.
However, the Buckeyes will need to hold their ground against Penn State’s upper weight classes of 184- and 197-pounds.
OSU redshirt freshman and 16th-ranked Kenny Courts will face off against junior and No. 1-ranked Ed Ruth in the 184-pound weight class.
The 197-pound weight class features OSU sophomore and 13th-ranked Andrew Campolattano against No. 3-ranked Quentin Wright, a senior.
Overall, Ryan said he wants his team to hold nothing back, as he expects the match to be a close one.
“It could come down to a point here, a point there,” Ryan said. “We’re going to need a total team effort to beat these guys.”
OSU is scheduled to travel to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan at 6 p.m. Friday and then heads home to battle Penn State at St. John Arena at 4 p.m. Sunday.