CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – The No. 7 Ohio State wrestling team opened the season by splitting a pair of Big Ten matches in a tie-meet with No. 24 Illinois and No. 21 Wisconsin. The Buckeyes defeated Wisconsin 25-9 but dropped a tough match with host Illinois 18-15.
Four Buckeyes went 2-0 on the day – junior Mailk Heinselman, redshirt-junior Kaleb Romero, sophomore Sammy Sasso and freshman Anthony Echemendia.
The Buckeyes had their chances against Illinois, but a couple of a key matches went the other way late in the third period which allowed the Illini to keep control. Against Wisconsin, the Buckeyes turned the tables, jumping out early and held the advantage throughout the match.
“We looked a little rusty today,” said head coach Tom Ryan. “We lost a number of matches late today and that’s a sign of rust and weight cutting. This was the time the guys were down to weight in nine months and we looked sluggish. But I’m proud of the way we came back in the second match. I’m happy for Malik (Heinselman). Rocky (Jordan) also came back really strong. And Sammy (Sasso) wrestled really well today.”
“Sometimes you learn some things when you deal with the pain of losing,” Ryan continued. “Nobody likes to lose. We certainly didn’t go up there wanting to lose. But this shows us where we need to get better. Where we need to improve. We get Rutgers next week and we have to be ready to go.”
Five Buckeyes also competed in extra matches after the team duals on Sunday. Gary Traub defeated Wisconsin’s Peter Christensen 5-4 in a heavyweight bout. Redshirt-sophomore JD Stickley dominated Wisconsin’s Dan Stilling 13-4. Two freshmen — Anthony Echemendia and Isaac Wilcox – made their Buckeye debuts. Echemendia competed at 141 in the team dual against Wisconsin and picked up a win. He also got a win against Wisconsin’s Dominic Dentino 11-5. Wilcox split a pair of extra matches, defeating Cody Anderson 5-3.
Ohio State will host its first match of the season next Sunday, Jan. 24 against Rutgers. A start time has yet to be confirmed and the match will be stream on BTN Plus+.
#24 Illinois 18 vs. #7 Ohio State 15
Redshirt-junior Ethan Smith opened the match against No. 8 Danny Braunagel at 165. Smith held a 4-3 lead into the third but Braunagel got a late takedown and stole the match 6-5.
174-pounder Kaleb Romero enjoyed a nice season-opening win in decisive fashion, 8-1 over DJ Shannon.
In the heavyweight match, transfer Tate Orndorff made his Buckeye debut and battled No. 25 Luke Luffman but ultimately fell 3-2 in a tough match.
The Buckeyes trailed 12-3 through the first five bouts as the team dual switched to Mat 1. That is where No. 21 Mailk Heinselman opened his day with an impressive 5-2 win over No. 13 Justin Cardani at 125. Jordan Decatur dropped a 2-0 decision to Lucas Byrd at 133 and Illinois led 15-6.
Dylan D’Emilio made his Buckeye debut in the 141 bout and wrestled well, holding a 7-6 lead late into the third against Daniel Pucino. But Pucino swung the match with a sudden takedown and four near-fall points to win 12-7.
That put the Illini ahead 18-6 and the Buckeyes needed a pair pin falls.
On paper, the 149 bout between No. 1 ranked Sammy Sasso and No. 7 ranked Mike Carr was the feature match. Needing a fall, Sasso delivered, and quickly, catching Carr in a cradle late in the first and wound up with the pin at 2:55.
Redshirt-senior Elijah Cleary matched-up with Johnny Mologousis in the final bout at 157, again, needing a pin. While the fall didn’t materialize, Cleary picked up a 3-2 decision and the final score was 18-15.
125 — No. 21 Mailk Heinselman def. No. 13 Justin Cardani (ILL) — D, 5-2
133 — Lucas Byrd (ILL) def. No. 25 Jordan Decatur — D, 2-0
141 — Daniel Pucino (ILL) def. Dylan D’Emilio — D, 12-7
149 — No. 1 Sammy Sasso def. No. 7 Mike Carr (ILL) — PIN 2:55
157 — No. 22 Elijah Cleary def. Johnny Mologousis (ILL) — D, 3-2
165 — No. 8 Danny Braunagel (ILL) def. Ethan Smith — D, 6-5
174 — No. 4 Kaleb Romero def. DJ Shannon (ILL) — D, 8-1
184 — No. 10 Zac Braunagel (ILL) def. No. 9 Rocky Jordan — D, 2-0
197 — Matt Wroblewski (ILL) def. Gavin Hoffman — D, 4-2
HWT — No. 25 Luke Luffman (ILL) def. No. 6 Tate Orndorff — D, 3-2
#7 Ohio State 25 vs. #21 Wisconsin 9
Ethan Smith bounced back after losing his first match against Illinois, picking up a nice 5-3 win over Josh Otto at 165 to give the Buckeyes the early 3-0 lead. Kaleb Romero and Rocky Jordan followed with methodical 9-5 and 9-4 victories, respectively, to push the lead to 9-0. Jordan’s win came over No. 13 Chris Weiler.
Gavin Hoffman rebounded from a loss in his first match to claim a 7-3 win over Andrew Salemme at 197. Wisconsin’s Trent Hillger then pinned Tate Orndorff with 1:21 remaining in the third to get the Badgers on the board heading back to Mat 1.
After the break, Mailk Heinselman continued his good start with a controlling 13-5 victory over Eric Barnett at 125. Jordan Decatur followed with a 4-2 win over Kyle Burwick to push the lead out to 19-6.
Freshman Anthony Echemendia made his collegiate debut, stepping in for the 141-pound match with Trey Escobar. He looked impressive as he delivered an 11-7 victory.
Sammy Sasso was tied 2-2 after the first period with Drew Scharenbrock, but the top-ranked 149-pounder dominated the rest of the way, winning 12-5. The final match at 157 saw Elijah Cleary drop a 3-2 decision to Garrett Model.
125 — No. 21 Mailk Heinselman def. Eric Barnett (WIS) | MD, 13-5
133 — No. 25 Jordan Decatur def. Kyle Burwick (WIS) | D, 4-2
141 — Anthony Echemendia def. Trey Escobar (WIS) | D, 11-7
149 — No. 1 Sammy Sasso def. Drew Scharenbrock (WIS) | D, 12-5
157 — Garrett Model (WIS) def. No. 22 Elijah Cleary | D, 3-2
165 — Ethan Smith def. Josh Otto (WIS) | D, 5-3
174 — No. 4 Kaleb Romero def. Jared Krattiger (WIS) | D, 9-5
184 — No. 9 Rocky Jordan def. No. 13 Chris Weiler (WIS) | D, 9-4
197 — Gavin Hoffman def. Andrew Salemme (WIS) | D, 7-3
HWT — No. 5 Trent Hillger (WIS) def. No. 6 Tate Orndorff | PIN 6:39
125 — Ethan Rotondo (WIS) def. Brady Koontz | D, 3-2
125 — Brady Koontz def. Josh Contreras (ILL) | D, 3-1
133 — We Rachal (ILL) def. Phillip Kue | D, 8-6
141 — Anthony Echemendia def. Dominic Dentino (WIS) | D, 11-5
149 — JD Stickley def. Dan Stilling (WIS) | MD, 13-4
157 — Isaac Wilcox def. Cody Anderson (WIS) | D, 5-3
157 — Devin Bahr (WIS) def. Isaac Wilcox | D, 7-3
174 — Fritz Schierl def. Seth Vosters (WIS) | D, 7-1
174 — Trey Sizemore (ILL) def. Fritz Schierl | D, 5-4
197 — Chase Singletary def. Nikita Nepomnyashchiy (ILL) | MD, 10-0
HWT — Gary Traub def. Peter Christensen (WIS) | D, 5-4