French Field House played host to the one of the nation’s top wrestling programs Thursday night, where the Ohio State wrestling team provided a season preview in front of hundreds of coaches and fans alike.
The Buckeyes’ unofficial start to the season began with an intrasquad wrestle-off, where each weight class had a match to determine a varsity starting spot. Coach Tom Ryan explained that the annual event brings excitement for the upcoming season not only for the wrestlers, but also for their supporters.
“You get a sense of the energy and the passion the people have for the program,” Ryan said. “So overall, it was a good night.”
Practice officially began Oct. 10, but according to Ryan, the training is continual for the wrestlers.
“It seems like (the seasons) never end. They roll into each other,” Ryan said. “I think what tonight has showed is that this is the team that all summer long was staying busy.”
Three freshmen had dominating match performances, starting off the season in impressive fashion. At 125 lbs. redshirt freshman Jose Rodriquez pinned his opponent in only two minutes. True freshman Luke Pletcher, at 133 lbs., had a commanding five takedowns and two four-point near falls to win 18-3. Lastly, at 141 lbs., redshirt freshman Ke-shawn Hayes used five takedowns in a 19-3 victory.
Notable returning Buckeyes showed additional team and individual strength throughout the night. Redshirt sophomore Micah Jordan, at 149 lbs., rolled to victory 21-6. At 157 lbs., redshirt sophomore Jake Ryan captured a 16-4 major decision win, scoring eight points in the first period. Sophomore Myles Martin, at 184 lbs., dominated with seven takedowns in a 20-6 final.
Redshirt juniors Nathan Tomasello and Bo Jordan, along with Olympic champion and OSU junior Kyle Snyder, did not wrestle.
OSU’s season outlook is bright, and Thursday night provided extra incentive to look forward to the upcoming months for Martin, who comes into the year as the only true-freshman for the Buckeyes to win a national title, and only the 15th in NCAA history to do such.
“I’m really excited for this season because we started off in the preseason rankings, we’re ranked two in the country,” Martin said.
Martin’s focus on team success goes hand-in-hand with his personal goals, as his weight class changed, moving up from last season.
“I want to win a national title,” Martin said. “I know it’s going to be a lot harder than last year… you’ve got a returning national champ Gabe Dean (Cornell) there, so I’m excited.”
Both coach Ryan and Martin shared goals of a team championship in not only the Big Ten, but also nationally. But, this is not a primary focus in the eyes of Ryan, whereas the focus aims to better the individual in ways not connected solely to winning championships.
“I think the unwritten, the unspoken truth is that there’s a standard. The standard is to be the best in the world,” Ryan said. “But we don’t talk a lot about that. We talk a lot about being the best version of yourself.”
When it comes to improving during the season, Ryan strongly noted that the focus is to get the most out of the wrestler, not focusing on the result of each match, but the effort put in during matches, and finding the purpose and joy in each match.
Discussing the outlook for the team and individual performance goals, Ryan does note the chase for a championship.
“We’ve got a shot. No doubt this team is in the hunt for a (Big Ten, national) title,” Ryan said. “But there’s a lot of work to do. We have to stay healthy, and keep moving forward.”