Barely 48 hours after handling No. 15 Pittsburgh on the road, the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes took a drubbing early in a 21-15 loss to the No. 11 Virginia Tech Hokies. The Hokies shocked the home team early as No. 21 Brent Moore – a native of St. Paris, Ohio – pinned No. 6 Sammy Sasso in the 149-pound match.
Ohio State faces the toughest non-conference schedule of any team in the Big Ten according to FloWrestling. Exhibit A: Back-to-back contests against top-15 teams inside a three-day period. Ohio State head coach Tom Ryan said that is by design.
“If you lose during the year, it doesn’t in any way shape or form, from a team standpoint, hurt when you get to the end of the year,” Ryan said ahead of the weekend’s duals. “So the thinking is, let’s make it as challenging as we can, so come the end of the year our guys have seen any of their lesser strengths are exposed.”
Ohio State certainly achieved that goal, as Virginia Tech raced out to an 18-7 lead, winning five of the first seven matches – including the shocking upset of Sasso at 149.
Losing is never fun, but Ryan said ahead of the meet that facing opponents like Tech early is critical because “as we move into the Big Ten schedule, we’ll have seen some tougher teams to get ready for what’s coming.”
Ryan and staff have no shortage of learning opportunities to build on from Sunday’s loss. Ultimately the biggest changes will come in the lineup; Ryan said after the meet that several spots are still up for grabs, with Kaleb Romero likely to start at 174 moving forward after Rocky Jordan came up short against an unranked Cody Hughes.
Ke-Shawn Hayes is likely the man moving forward at 157 as Cleary continues to struggle against ranked competitors. Hayes has been away for a few weeks coming back from an injury; the redshirt senior wrestled 157 last season and had hopes of bumping down to 149. Ryan said after the match that Hayes is likely the team’s best option.
The Buckeyes have four sure starters: No. 1 Luke Pletcher, No. 1 Kollin Moore, Sasso and No. 11 Chase Singletary. From there, the team has plenty of options and few certainties – which, is why the early-season tests like Virginia Tech are crucial when it comes to facing national title contenders Penn State and Iowa in the Big Ten schedule.
|133||No. 17 Collin Gerardi, decision over No. 18 Quinn Kinner (7-1)||0||3|
|141||No. 1 Luke Pletcher, major decision over No. 19 Mitch Moore (13-5)||4||3|
|149||No. 21 Brent Moore, victory by FALL over No. 6 Sammy Sasso (1:16)||4||9|
|157||No. 13 B.C. LaPrade, decision over Elijah Cleary (3-1)||4||12|
|165||No. 21 Ethan Smith, decision over No. 4 David McFadden (5-4)||7||12|
|174||Cody Hughes, decision over Rocky Jordan (7-2)||7||15|
|184||No. 9 Hunter Bolen, decision over Zach Steiner (8-1)||7||18|
|197||No.1 Kollin Moore, victory by TECH FALL over Stan Smeltzer (25-9)||12||18|
|285||No. 11 Chase Singletary, decision over John Borst (4-2)||15||18|
|125||Joey Prata, decision over No. 21 Malik Heinselman (5-2)||15||21|
Although the casual observer might lay the loss on the early pin of a likely All American, Ryan said he isn’t at all worried about Sasso. The redshirt freshman got caught out of position, and because he’s never been on his back in a match, panicked rather than bridging out and rolling through to avoid the fall.
The far bigger concern for the Buckeye coach is getting the type of intensity he saw from Pletcher, Moore and Ethan Smith at every spot in the lineup.
Smith won a huge upset over No. 4 David McFadden, due in no small part to his aggression and grit for all seven minutes. His performance Sunday likely solidified his spot in the lineup, as the plan continues to be a redshirt for Carson Kharchla.
— Ohio State Wrestling (@wrestlingbucks) November 17, 2019
Ohio State has a two-week break in the dual-meet schedule, and will welcome No. 18 Cornell at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1. They’ll spend Dec. 6-7 in Las Vegas at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational tournament, a tournament the Buckeyes have won three years running.