It wasn't easy, but the Ohio State wrestling team halted its two-match Big Ten losing streak by posting an 18-16 victory over #12 Illinois. Things weren't looking good late for the Buckeyes. Mark Martin (174) had just let a third-period lead evaporate, dropping a 7-6 decision to Tony Dallago in sudden victory. It was the third loss in a row for the Buckeyes with Joe Grandominco (165) and Randall Languis (157) each losing by decision. The team score stood at 16-9 with only three matches to go.
Kenny Courts (184) stopped the bleeding, beating Lazarus Reyes 8-1, earning a decision victory and three very important team points. However, Courts fell one point short of a major decision which would have been worth four points and given the Buckeyes some wiggle room. Instead the Buckeyes were down 16-12 with two matches left. For Ohio State to win, it would have to earn victories in each of the meet's final two matches.
First up was a 197-pound showdown between Ohio State's Nick Heflin (#4 Intermat) and Jeffrey Koepke who was filling in for Mario Gonzalez (#5 Intermat). A point for an escape and another for riding time were enough for Heflin as he squeaked by Gonzalez 2-1. It was a solid bounce-back win for Heflin coming off his first loss of the season last Friday. The victory narrowed the Illini lead to 15-16 and set up an important heavyweight finale between redshirt Freshman Nick Tavanello of Ohio State and Illinois' Christopher Lopez. Whoever won this match would win the dual meet for his team. As the clock dwindled down in the third period, the two heavyweights were deadlocked 1-1. The bout would be decided in overtime. The sudden-victory period would last one minute with both men starting from the neutral position. Tavanello was able to press the action, scoring a takedown and winning the match 3-1 while also securing an 18-16 team victory.
Also winning for the Buckeyes were Ian Paddock (149) who defeated Caleb Ervin 10-4 and Logan Stieber (141) who pinned Dominic Olivieri at 2:02 of the very first period. Nick Roberts (125) lost a close 11-7 decision to Illinois' defending national champion Jesse Delgado. Wrestling in place of the injured Johnni DiJulius, Kyle Visconti (133) of Ohio State lost by technical fall to Zane Richards.
The victory brings the Buckeyes' dual meet record to 6-2 on the season (1-2 Big Ten). Up next for the Buckeyes is a matchup this Friday against #16 Northwestern. The meet, a home dual for the Buckeyes, will actually be held in Cincinnati at Moeller High School.