COLUMBUS, Ohio – Reminiscent of Luke Pletcher’s true freshman campaign in 2016-17, Jordan Decatur peeled his redshirt midseason and seized an opportunity to compete in the starting lineup. While Pletcher made the move from 133 to 141 pounds, Decatur migrated the opposite direction and has been wrestling at 133 pounds since joining the lineup after starting the season at 141.
Decatur’s dual debut was one to remember. All eyes were on Columbus for a rare Monday night match, broadcast live to a national audience on Fox Sports 1 (FS1). The fourth-ranked Sun Devils of Arizona State were in town coming off a snapping of Penn State’s 60-match winning streak. Decatur was faced with a formidable challenge, taking the mat against No. 15 Josh Kramer. The Buckeye freshman didn’t flinch, delivering a 5-3 decision which proved pivotal in Ohio State’s 17-16 team triumph.
Talk about ‘getting thrown into the fire.’ After debuting against Kramer, Decatur’s next five opponents were all ranked No. 11 or higher, including both No. 1 and No. 2. He flashed the ability to score on the nation’s elite, recording the first takedown against Seth Gross and Austin DeSanto, during the murderers’ row of B1G combatants. While the final result versus Gross was not what Decatur was ultimately striving for, his three takedowns on the former NCAA champion and top-ranked wrestler were nothing to sneeze at for the Buckeye true freshman.
Decatur broke through for his first conference dual win at Minnesota in late January, a major decision powered by seven takedowns. He would add another B1G victory against Northwestern two weeks later.
Prior to and after the Big Ten gauntlet, Decatur entered a total of three open tournaments. He emerged as champion in a pair, the David Lehman F&M Open (Dec. 4) and the JCU Open (Feb. 16), and placed third in the Cleveland State Open (Dec. 14).
Decatur has nothing to lose entering the Big Ten Championships pre-seeded 14th out of 14 wrestlers competing at 133 pounds. Despite notching two major decisions during the conference slate, he was the unlucky victim of both opposing teams changing their 133-pound representative for the postseason. Thus, the Decatur wins did not count towards ‘vs. the field’ metrics considered during the seeding process.
Both the NCAA Coaches Panel and Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) consider Decatur worthy of NCAA qualification, however, rating him among the top-33 at 133 pounds. The RPI slots Decatur 28th nationally while the coaches voted him at No. 31.
Back in ’16-17, Pletcher surprised many naysayers when making a deep run at NCAA Championships. Can Decatur repeat history? The college wrestling world will soon find out.