NEW YORK CITY — The repeat title hopes for Ohio State wrestling have all but faded away after a rough second day at the NCAA tournament.
After the first session of the day advanced four wrestlers to the semifinals, the Buckeyes sustained brutal loses in the 125-, 141- and 165-pound weight classes. The ability for OSU to close out matches and secure early wins like last season was nowhere to be found.
Things weren’t all bad for the Scarlet and Gray, though, as two Buckeyes, freshman Myles Martin and sophomore Kyle Snyder, earned their way into the championship round.
The Buckeyes entered Day 2 hot on the heels of Penn State and deadlocked with Oklahoma State. Midway through the second day, the story was the same for the Scarlet and Gray.
OSU finished the morning session with second place all to itself. Penn State, however, stretched out its lead to 14.5 points.
Both redshirt freshman Micah Jordan and redshirt senior Johnni DiJulius lost matches in the morning session. DiJulius was eliminated from the competition, while Jordan moved to the consolation bracket to fight for third place.
However, four wrestlers advanced in the tournament, moving on to the semifinal round. All but one of this group reached the same round last year.
Redshirt sophomore Nate Tomasello won by decision, and both redshirt sophomore Bo Jordan and Snyder earned major decision wins in the quarterfinals.
As for the fourth Buckeye to earn a spot in the semifinals, the true freshman Martin, a defensive strategy paid dividends to advance the Penns Grove, New Jersey, product into the next round.
Martin rode out the entire second period and picked up an escape in the third for the win. He appeared extremely confident following the match’s conclusion and not at all concerned with the pressure despite the big stage.
“I wrestle guys in the room every day that are world champions, All-Americans, national champions,” Martin said. “That helps my confidence a lot when I’m competing with these guys.”
Madison Square Garden erupted at the start of the semifinals, then looked on in awe as Thomas Gilman of Iowa upset Tomasello in overtime. This was the first loss for Tomasello in over 40 matches of his college career.
Tomasello was driven to the mat and pinned in overtime, silencing the OSU faithful in attendance to a gasp. Last year’s national champion at 125 pounds was visibly distraught after the defeat.
Things would not get better for the Buckeyes at 141 pounds. Micah Jordan lost a 6-2 decision against Randy Cruz of Lehigh. This was the second time in two matches he was the victim of an upset.
Trying to get things back on track, Bo Jordan faced an opponent he had yet to beat in three attempts: his cousin, Wisconsin’s Isaac Jordan.
Once again, Isaac Jordan got the better of his relative, as he took a 5-4 decision.
Finally, after the Buckeyes lost their first three matches of the session, Martin turned things around. The freshman fought hard to gain an 8-2 decision, earning the right to go on to face Bo Nickal of Penn State in the finals.
In the final bout of the evening, Snyder remained perfect on the year by beating Ty Walz of Virginia Tech to join Martin in Saturday’s championship round.
While proud of the two wrestlers who will represent the Scarlet and Gray in the finals, OSU coach Tom Ryan seemed drained and disheartened after such an overall poor showing in the fourth session.
“It’s a tough night, a real tough night,” Ryan said, his raspy voice caused by shouting out instructions seemingly reflecting the overall mood of the team.
Ryan did offer praise to both wrestlers moving on to the final stage, especially Martin.
“We knew early on with Myles that we had something really special,” Ryan said. “He showed that this weekend.”
OSU has now dropped to fifth overall and will be looking to salvage whatever it can Saturday.
The morning session is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m., with the evening session slated for 8 p.m. after the parade of All-Americans.