The Ohio State wrestling team held it’s end of the season banquet this week and handed out its team awards. Below are the recipients.
Freshman Dylan D’Emilio is a psychology major and had an impressive 3.948 GPA while qualifying for the NCAA Championships at 141 pounds.
This award typically goes to a non-starter who regularly competes in open tournaments and exhibits a selfless attitude. With the absence of opens this year and the things that stacked up against Kaleb Romero, it became clear that he was deserving of this award. In the midst of constant uncertainty surrounding his circumstances, he maintained a positive attitude and competed with everything he had. He fell one match short of being an All-American.
Ethan Smith stepped up at 165 this year and capped his season with an impressive second-place finish at the Big Ten tournament and achieving All-American status at the NCAA tournament. Smith’s performance this season solidified his position as a vital member of the Wrestling Bucks lineup.
Malik Heinselman started his season with a Revenge Tour as he avenged a number of losses from last season and earned a black shirt in the process. His continued improvement is something to be excited about for seasons to come.
Tate Orndorff was already a successful wrestler at his last school but took a leap of faith in transferring and joining the Buckeyes. He moved across the country along with his wife to pursue a dream. In a chaotic year filled with ups and downs, his determination never wavered. And for that reason, Tate Orndorff has earned this award.
Dylan D’Emilio’s steady performance throughout the season and appearance at the NCAA Championship lamented D’Emilio as the clear winner of the Chris Ford Freshman of the Year Award.
This is an award that could have gone to a host of great leaders within the program. When you think of the late Ray Mendoza and the characteristics he possessed that carried over well beyond his wrestling career ended, we are reminded as to how wrestling success isn’t always the determining factor in leadership. Although Zach didn’t represent the Buckeyes in postseason competition, the legacy he leaves behind as a leader will live on. A true “team above all” guy, Zach embodies what it means to be a Ray Mendoza Leadership Award winner.
When you finish runner-up at the NCAA Championship, win a Big Ten title and go 16-1 on the season, you are likely going to be any team’s MVP. Sammy Sasso certainly had a tremendous year on the mat, but he is also one of the team’s leaders off the mat. All that combined makes Sasso a very deserving Most Valuable Player.