COLUMBUS, Ohio – Coming off five straight top 10 finishes in the team standings at the NCAA Championships – including the programs first national title in 2015 – head coach Tom Ryan heads into the 2016-17 campaign with what he says is “maybe the best team we’ve ever had.”
It’s easy to see why the 11th-year head coach can be so optimistic – the first three reasons come in the form of Nathan Tomasello, Myles Martin and Kyle Snyder. All are returning All-Americans. All have stood on the podium at the NCAA Championships with a title in hand. All are underclassmen.
Three others returning starters – two-time All-American and third place finisher Bo Jordan (165) and NCAA qualifiers Jake Ryan (157) and Micah Jordan (141) – put the Buckeyes once again in the mix to contend for another Big Ten and NCAA title. Infused into the lineup will be a pair of highly-touted redshirt freshmen in Kollin Moore and Ke-Shawn Hayes that solidifies it as one of the nation’s best.
BUCKEYES IN A NUTSHELL
• The combination of M. Jordan, B. Jordan, Tomasello, Snyder, Ryan and Martin won 135 matches last season, 83 by bonus points (61 percent).
• Wrestling unattached in open tournaments, Moore and Hayes combined to go 54-5 with 35 wins via bonus points. Hayes (29-1) led the team with 12 technical falls and also added seven major decisions. His 2015-16 resume includes titles at the Findlay Open, Michigan State Open and Penn State Open.
• Moore, who will slide into the vacant spot at 197, was a champion at the Findlay Open and finished in the top five at every tournament in which he competed.
• All six of Ohio State’s returning starters have NCAA Championships experience and placed at last year’s Big Ten Championships, where the Buckeyes scored a school-record 126 points.
• After finishing 11-3 last season, Ohio State has won 10 or more dual matches in seven of the last eight seasons.
• The Buckeyes have four freshmen All-Americans in the last two seasons and last March crowed its first true freshman national champion in program history (Martin).
LINEUP AT A GLANCE
125: Nathan Tomasello (Rs.-Jr.) – Two-time All-American and 2015 NCAA Championship … ranked No. 1 at 125 lbs. for the entirety of the regular season … won 43 straight matches from January 2015 through March 2016.
133: Luke Pletcher (Fr.) or Jose Rodriguez (Rs.-Fr.) – Pletcher was nation’s top-ranked recruit at 138 lbs. … Rodriguez is highly-regarded redshirt freshman who went 13-4 in open tournaments last year and was a University Nationals All-American this past summer.
141: Ke-Shawn Hayes (Rs.-Fr.) – 29-1 with 20 bonus point wins while redshirting in 2015-16 … consensus top-10 ranked recruit and three-time Missouri state champion.
149: Micah Jordan (Rs.-So.) – Fell just one match short of attaining All-America stats … won 22 of his first 23 matches and finished 26-4 overall … AWN All-Rookie Team member.
157: Jake Ryan (Rs.-So.) – NCAA qualifier who was 17-7 … nearly upset sixth-seeded Joseph Smith of Oklahoma State in the opening round of the championships … will be challenged by teammates Cody Burcher and Justin Kresevic and incoming freshman Fritz Schierl.
165: Bo Jordan (Rs.-Jr.) – Two-time All-American … 43-5 over the last two seasons with a pair of Big Ten finals appearances … third place at both the 2015 and 2016 NCAA Championships.
174: Bo Jordan (Rs.-Jr.) or Myles Martin (So.) – The reigning national champion, last year Martin became just the 15th true freshman to win a title … Jordan could also bump up a weight class (he started the 2014-15 season at 174 lbs.).
184: Myles Martin (So.) or Jack Rozema (Rs.-Jr.) or Dominic Prezzia (Rs.-Jr.) – If Jordan moves to 174, Martin then becomes the Buckeyes’ starter at 184. If he doesn’t, Rozema (9-9) started three duals last year at 184 while Perzzia (13-10) earned two starts at 174 and one at 184.
197: Kollin Moore (Rs.-Fr.) – A member of the Junior World Team … won 25 matches at open tournaments last season … will gain valuable international experience later in August at the Junior World Championships.
285: Kyle Snyder (Jr.) – The Most Outstanding Wrestler at last year’s NCAA Championships … 41-4 in just two seasons … will be coming off his run at this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio … redshirt senior Nick Tavanello is a proven second option, having 84 career wins to his credit.
THE ROAD TO RIO
Snyder’s ascent into one of the world’s best freestyle wrestlers at 97kg/213 lbs. is well-documented, and on Sunday, August 21 he will look to become the first Ohio State wrestler in 92 years to win an Olympic medal when he takes the mat in Rio. Leading up to the games, Snyder won seven of eight matches against many of the same competiors he’ll see in Rio, including a perfect 4-0 mark at the Freestyle World Cup in Los Angeles.
For a complete look at Snyder’s Road to Rio, CLICK HERE.
NOTING THE 2016-17 SCHEDULE
• Ohio State is slated to face five team that finished in the top 10 at last year’s NCAA Championships.
• The home portion of the schedule is highlighted by a date with defending Big Ten and NCAA champion Penn State on either Feb. 3 or 5. A finalized date will be announced at a later time.
• On the road, Ohio State faces Arizona State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska. The trip to Iowa City will be the Buckeyes’ first since 2013.
• On Dec. 2-3, Ohio State will once against travel to the ultra-competitive Cliff Keene Las Vegas Invitational, where last year over 40 percent of all the wrestlers were nationally-ranked. OSU has had at least one champion in each of the last five years.
• Tomasello and the Snyder brothers (Kyle and Kevin) will have an opportunity to make unique homecomings. On Dec. 16, Ohio State faces Northwestern at Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy, where Tomasello was a four-time state champion. The Maryland dual on Jan. 22 will be at Good Counsel High School in Olney, Md., Kyle and Kevin’s alma mater.
• This year’s NCAA Championships return to a familiar site, and one that holds good memories for Buckeye fans. The Scottrade Center in St. Louis will once again play host, the same arena that Ohio State won its 2015 national championship.
• In seven postseason matches, Snyder averaged 16.5 points and finished with four technical falls. He also collected the first pin of his career, which came in the opening round of the NCAA Championships. Snyder was a finalist for the Hodge Trophy, the third straight year a Buckeye wrestler was on the list for wrestling’s most prestigious award.
• With a 124-45 overall record in 10 seasons, Tom Ryan has the highest winning percentage (.733) of any head coach in program history. He’s already coached the most national champions in Ohio State history and is also averaging program-best 3.4 All-Americans per season.
• The Buckeyes have multiple Big Ten champions in each of the last four seasons, the longest stretch in program history.
• Over the last 10 years, Ohio State has finished in the top-three at the NCAA Championships four times and in the top 10 nine times.