The hostile environment of nearly 16,000 Nittany Lion fans proved to be too much for the Ohio State wrestling team on Friday, as the Buckeyes fell to top-ranked Penn State.
OSU led twice early on but was never able to stretch out a sizeable lead, and a flurry of top-ranked wrestlers for Penn State were too much for the Scarlet and Gray to keep up with.
Penn State (13-0, 8-0) lost two of the first three individual bouts to OSU (9-3, 6-2), but picked up the pace later on to earn a 24-14 win.
In the evening’s first bout, redshirt sophomore Nathan Tomasello started things off right for OSU, picking up a victory against redshirt senior Nico Megaludis.
Tomasello was able to escape early in the second period to gain the lead. A defensive stalemate made the crowd at the Bryce Jordan Center tense, holding its breath all the way until the final whistle.
Tomasello scrambled well near the end of the bout and was able to score a takedown with just 15 seconds left to earn a 3-1 decision victory.
The redshirt sophomore increased his winning streak to an impressive 34-match mark, which leads the nation at the 125-pound weight class.
With the momentum on its side, OSU would continue to the dual-meet with redshirt senior Johnni DiJulius at 133 pounds.
DiJulius drew a tough opponent in senior Jordan Conaway, who is ranked fifth in the nation.
After DiJulius started off with a quick pace and an early lead of 4-0, Conaway came roaring back to score seven unanswered points, also picking up a bonus point to win 8-4.
With DiJulius working for back points near the edge of the circle in front of the OSU bench, the whistle was blown and called for the wrestlers to reset in the middle. OSU coach Tom Ryan was clearly animated after the call.
DiJulius is now 13-5 on the year and 4-4 in the Big Ten.
Redshirt freshman Micah Jordan walked onto the mat with the team score notched even at 3-3 and continued his strong season by beating All-American junior Jimmy Gulibon.
Jordan scored a takedown right before the whistle to end the third period, going on to win 6-3 to put OSU on top by the same score.
The Buckeyes then turned to sophomore Sal Marandino at 149 pounds to face sophomore Zain Retherford.
Retherford entered the match undefeated on the season, while also holding the top spot in the nation.
Marandino was under constant pressure from the Nittany Lion sophomore and was unable to fight off the offense. Retherford picked up the win by fall, giving Penn State six team points.
OSU redshirt freshman Jake Ryan returned to the starting lineup at 157 pounds after sitting out the last two dual-meets, while Penn State presented another No. 1 overall wrestler in the bout in redshirt freshman Jason Nolf.
Nolf attacked early, constantly attacking the legs of Ryan, while preventing Ryan from maneuvering into scoring positions.
Ryan sustained a hard hit to his head during a strong shot by Nolf, and the match was stopped to evaluate for a possible concussion. Ryan was cleared by the OSU trainer but could not overcome Nolf, dropping the match 19-6.
After the intermission, the Scarlet and Gray found themselves down 13-6, with the 165-pound match up next.
Redshirt sophomore Bo Jordan would be who the Buckeyes would turn to against junior Geno Morelli to try and turn the meet around.
Morelli was unranked coming into the match, but it was anything from one-sided. Jordan could not find a way to finish his shots and could only manage one takedown against the Nittany Lion junior.
However, despite the tougher-than-advertised affair, Jordan secured a win by keeping Morelli at bay in the third to win 3-2 and maintain unbeaten on the season and pick up his 13th win this year.
OSU freshman Myles Martin matched up against redshirt freshman Bo Nickal next, in what proved to be one of the most intense matches of the meet.
After a scoreless first, Martin found himself ahead at the end of the second period, with a 2-1 lead.
Nickal would fight back into the mix and tie the score at 4-4. Martin earned an escape to put himself back up, but Nickal stayed active and went on to win 11-5.
With a 16-9 Penn State lead in the team scores, redshirt senior Kenny Courts found no offense against sophomore Matt McCutcheon, scoring no points for the third time this season.
Courts could not escape McCutcheon and found himself caught in the grasp of the Nittany Lion for most of the evening before losing 4-0.
Penn State rolled out its fourth and final top-ranked wrestler with senior Morgan McIntosh.
Redshirt junior Josh Fox was on the mat for the Buckeyes, and he kept things close in the first period, with McIntosh up 2-0 at the end of one. In the remainder of the match, however, McIntosh continued to lead, eventually going on to win 24-9.
Even though the Nittany Lions had a team win securely in hand, the night ended on a high note for the Buckeyes at heavyweight.
Sophomore Kyle Snyder dominated throughout his bout against freshman Jan Johnson, posting 18 points in the first period alone. Snyder would post the most points by any Buckeye on the evening, racking up 25 before his technical fall victory.
Penn State remains perfect on the season with two opponents left on its schedule, while OSU is next set to return home to St. John Arena to meet the Wisconsin Badgers at 7 p.m. on Feb. 12 to round out the regular season.
Correction 2/6: An earlier version of the story said Penn State had two ranked opponents remaining on its schedule, when in fact one of its opponents is ranked.