We're less than one month removed from the NCAA wrestling championships where Logan Stieber became the first ever Ohio State wrestler to win three NCAA championships, but wrestling fans can already start making plans for the 2014/2015 season. Today the team announced home duals against Missouri (Dec. 14, 2014), Iowa (Jan. 4, 2015) and Penn State (Jan. 11, 2015). Columbus will also play host to the Big Ten championships March 7-8.
On paper, the 2014 version of the wrestling Buckeyes could be the strongest team that Head Coach Tom Ryan has ever fielded. In addition to Logan Stieber, who will be chasing his fourth national championship, Hunter Stieber, an All-American and his own right, will be returning from his redshirt year to chase his first national title. Also in the mix are highly touted redshirt freshmen Nathan Tomasello and Bo Jordan, both of whom have legitimate shots at deep NCAA tournament runs. If that isn't enough, Kyle Snyder, a world champion in freestyle and the #1 overall recruit in the class of 2014, will be replacing Nick Heflin at 197 pounds. Add to that Johnni DiJulius, Josh Demas, Nick Roberts, Nick Tavanello, Kenny Courts, and Mark Martin, all wrestlers with significant NCAA tournament experience, and you have a very formidable roster.
The December 14 tilt against Missouri will likely feature one of the more intriguing bouts of the non-conference season as the aforementioned Snyder faces J'Den Cox, the man who beat Heflin for the 197-pound title at the 2014 NCAA championships. The two men have faced eachother in both freestyle and Greco Roman competition, splitting their matches. The match will be a fantastic measuring stick for Snyder, someone the Buckeyes will be counting on heavily in March.
On January 4, the Iowa Hawkeyes come to town. Along with Ohio State, PSU, and Minnesota, Iowa is expected to be a serious contender for the national title next year. Iowa has also owned the Buckeyes historically, with the Buckeyes beating the Hawkeyes once in the last 50 years. That one time? The last time that they came to Columbus.
The matchup one week later against Penn State is another one to watch for. Penn State is the four-time defending national champion, but it has been years since the team looked this vulnerable. Gone are bonus point machines David Taylor and Ed Ruth, the cornerstones of the four-straight titles. The team is still loaded with talent, but how quickly will Cael Sanderson be able to develop that talent? This match will tell us a great deal about both teams. Plus, we'll get to see Stieber/Retherford IV, and who doesn't want to see that?
Those three duals alone could be the cornerstone for a great home slate, but it doesn't stop there. The Buckeyes are also hosting the second best tournament in wrestling: The Big Ten Championships. It's going to be an incredible season of competition and Ohio State should have a team to match.