Friday night the 7th-ranked* Ohio State wrestling team fell to #18 Wisconsin 22-15 in Madison bringing its dual meet record to 5-2 (0-2 Big Ten). The match started off innocuously enough with Kenny Courts earning a 12-4 major-decision victory over Dylan Iczkowsk at 184. Up next was two-time All-American Nick Heflin, ranked #4 nationally, against unranked Timmy McCall, who had posted an unremarkable 10-7 record on the season. Heflin was the heavy favorite, but it was McCall who emerged the victor posting a 3-1 decision in sudden victory. The unexpected loss was Heflin's first of the season and would prove to be a harbinger of things to come for the Buckeyes.
After Heflin's loss, the Buckeyes dropped the next three bouts. Heavyweight Nick Tavanello dropped an 8-2 decision to #10 Connor Medbery. At 125 pounds, #17 Nick Roberts lost by fall to #11 Ryan Taylor. At 133 pounds the much-anticipated matchup of #5 Johnni DiJulius against Wisconsin's #6 Tyler Graff never materialized as Kyle Visconti wrestled in place of DiJulius and lost by technical fall 26-11. There hasn't been an official statement as of yet explaining why DiJulius didn't compete, but an injury is the likeliest explanation. With the Visconti loss, Ohio State hit the half-way point of the match trailing 16-4.
After intermission, it was time for the 141-pound matchup featuring #3 Logan Stieber of Ohio State versus Jesse Thielke. Showing his dominance from the top position, it took Stieber only 2:42 to rack up an 18-1 advantage and a victory by technical fall. The victory was Stieber's 11th on the season. All 11 wins have been of the bounus-point variety including two major decisions, three technical falls, and six pins. At 149 pounds Senior Ian Paddock followed with a victory of his own, earning a 3-2 decision against Wisconsin's Ryan Lubeck. The consecutive wins helped the Buckeyes inch closer to evening up the team score, trailing 12-16 with three matches to go.
Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, that four-point margin was as close as they would get. Randy Languis and Joe Grandominico dropped decisions at 157 and 165 pounds respectively, creating an insurmountable 10-point deficit. #17 Mark Martin ended the meet on a high note, winning a hard-fought 4-3 decision over Scott Liegel, but it was too little, too late.
The loss is especially problematic for the Buckeyes, who won't have much time to recover and refocus as a matchup with #12 Illinois is looming on Sunday. The Buckeyes weren't necessarily expected to beat the Big Ten's elite this season, but opening 0-3 in the conference would be an incredible disappointment. It will be up to Coach Tom Ryan to refocus the team and make sure that it is at its best in Champaign.
Be sure to check back Sunday evening to see how they did. Or, follow @_VestDJ_ on Twitter for live updates
(*all rankings based on Intermat)