There was no controversy this time. Ohio State's Logan Stieber left no doubt who the best 141 pounder in the nation was, dominating Virginia Tech's Devin Carter 10-1 to win the NCAA championship. The championship was Stieber's third, the most by any wrestler in the history of Ohio State wrestling. The major decision victory was one of only two finals (157 was the other), in which the winning wrestler earned bonus points.
Stieber struck early, taking Carter down about thirty seconds into the match. By the end of the first period he led 2-0 and had accrued over 2:15 in riding time. The second period saw Stieber start from the bottom position where it would take him less than 15 seconds to escape. He would score one more takedown in the second period, giving him a comfortable 5-0 lead heading into the third and final stanza. The final frame began in the neutral position and less than 30 seconds later Stieber scored his third takedown of the night, giving him a 7-0 lead. Carter would escape with 1:05 remaining to make it 7-1. Logan repaid the Hokie for his effort by doing this:
Executing a textbook takedown for the final points of the match. With the bonus point for riding time, Stieber won 10-1.
The win made Stieber, only a junior, the most accomplished wrestler in the history of the Ohio State program. Perhaps more important, however, it gives him the opportunity to enter the most exclusive of company: the four-timers club. In the history of NCAA wrestling only three men, Kyle Dake, Cael Sanderson, and Pat Smith have won four national championships. There's a long way to go, and a lot of matches to wrestle, between now and title number four, but Stieber is so hard to take down and so dominant on top, that it's going to take an outstanding effort from a supremely talented wrestler to prevent him from pulling off the four-peat.
Stall Call Helps Cox Edge Heflin
The Buckeyes' other finalist, Senior Nick Heflin, came tenths of a second from becoming a national champion, but ultimately lost 2-1 to Missouri Freshman J'Den Cox on the heels of a third-period stalling call.
The first period was largely uneventful, with both wrestlers feeling one another out on their feet. The three minute round ended without a point being scored. The second period began with Cox starting from the down position. He would quickly escape, pulling out to a 1-0 lead. The rest of the period would go by much like the first, with both men in neutral and not much action. With about one minute remaining in the period, Heflin was hit with his a stall warning. After finishing out the second, Heflin began the third period on bottom, escaping in just under forty seconds. With the score tied 1-1 both men stalked each other on their feet, with no real close scrambles or takedown attempts. Then, with thirty seconds left to go, the referee hit Heflin with his second stall call, handing Cox a 2-1 lead. Down late, Heflin went on the attack. He ended up with a body lock on Cox and used it to do this:
It wasn't enough, though, as time expired a fraction of a second before Heflin could come around back for the takedown. The Buckeye senior was literally less than a second away from realizing his life-long dream. You can debate the stall call if you want, but consensus is that it was warranted. Still, despite the bitter disappointment, Nick Heflin has absolutely nothing to hang his head about. Heflin ends his career as one of only eight Buckeyes in the history of the program to earn 3x All-American honors. He amassed a 99-28 overall record and was named captain three times. Add in his Big Ten title, and that's one hell of a career. He will be very difficult to replace.
Ohio State finishes sixth in the team race
This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Ohio State wrestling team. Still, Tom Ryan's squad put on quite a show. In addition to its third-place finish at the NWCA National Duals, the wrestling Buckeyes put forth a strong effort this weekend in Oklahoma City. Led by Stieber and Heflin's finals appearances, deep runs by Kenny Courts and Nick Tavanello (each fell one win short of All-American status), and wins by Nick Roberts, Johnni DiJulius, and Mark Martin, Ohio State edged out Cornell to finish sixth in the team race. Not too shabby for a year in which four potential starters (including All-American Hunter Stieber) took redshirts.