COLUMBUS, Ohio – Luke Pletcher heads into the holiday break with an unblemished 14-0 mark, highlighted by an undeniable hike in his attack rate. Over half of those victories have come against nationally-ranked opponents.
Dominating during the Fall semester is nothing new for Pletcher, going 13-1 and 16-0 the last two autumns. The difference in ’19 has been his heightened performance when facing top-25 foes. Pletcher has outscored the higher-tiered competition by a combined tally of 103-41 (+61), good for a victory margin average of 7.75 points per top-25 win. That makes him just a quarter point per win shy of averaging a major decision vs. nationally-ranked adversaries. Whoa.
Taking Over the Top Spot
Pletcher began the season slotted No. 2 at 141 pounds, a weight class he had not competed in since his freshman campaign. The Michigan State Open presented an immediate opportunity to lay claim to the top spot with preseason No. 1 Dom Demas of Oklahoma in the field. But first, a B1G challenge awaited in the semifinals in the form of Illinois’ Dylan Duncan (ranked 12th). Pletcher blew past him, 15-5, to set up a showdown with Demas. Though the score was tight, Pletcher pushed the pace throughout and showcased his elite mat return skills en route to a 2-1 ascension into the No. 1 ranking.
Real Woods Provides a Real Scare
The next top-25 guy to face Pletcher was No. 15 Real Woods (Stanford). In a highly-competitive bout, Pletcher came through in the clutch to improve to 3-0 over the nation’s best.
The Level Jump
Two more nationally-ranked challenges were on the docket the following weekend and that is when Pletcher began his assault on the country’s top 141-pounders. He missed out on a tech fall vs. No. 17 Cole Matthews (Pittsburgh) by a lone point, settling for a 23-9 major decision. He then backed that up two days later by majoring No. 19 Mitch Moore (Virginia Tech), 13-5.
— Ohio State Wrestling (@wrestlingbucks) November 17, 2019
“Same ole narrative.”
“Haven’t we seen this before?”
“It’ll change after November,” squawked the social media trolls in response to Pletcher’s high bonus rate.
Then came the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational where Pletcher put on a five-star show.
In a city known for glitz and glamour, a 13-takedown showing seemed to fit right in. Pletcher did just that against No. 23 Cole Mattin from archrival Michigan. The 26-11 tech fall was encored by his 11-3 major decision over All-American and 6th-ranked Chad Red (Nebraska) on the back of five takedowns and over two minutes of riding time. He kept it coming in the finals, staying in complete control throughout a 10-6 besting of No. 4 Mitch McKee (Minnesota), also an All-American, and tacking on four more takedowns.