“I’ll look back at my career at Ohio State and just be thankful for not what I was able to achieve, but all the moments and camaraderie and experience I’ve had with my teammates and coaches and my improvement as a wrestler and as a man and my faith especially, all that’s grown so much.”
The Ohio State wrestling team narrowly missed out on its second national championship in four years over the weekend, losing out to Penn State with a score of 134.5 to take home a second-place finish.
Still, the Buckeyes wrapped up a phenomenal season, which included a conference championship and a heavyweight title for senior Kyle Snyder, the most decorated wrestler on their roster. Due to his international schedule, Snyder wrestled in just 13 matches during his senior season, but went an overall 12-1 on the year while earning yet another individual conference title.
In the final match on the final day of the championships, Snyder edged out Michigan’s Adam Coon, who had previously handed Snyder his only loss of the regular season. Snyder had already avenged himself againgt Coon in the Big Ten Championships in East Lansing, but sealed his 2-for-3 advantage with a win on the national stage. At roughly 225 pounds, Snyder weighed in at 58 pounds less than Coon, who is one of the bigger heavyweights in college wrestling. Snyder has stayed slim (relatively) to keep closer to his international wrestling weight, where he will continue at about 213-pounds.
This NCAA championship is Snyder’s third in four years with the Buckeyes. While his international accolades are already significant, including an Olympic gold medal, he leaves behind a strong legacy at Ohio State which includes three individual conference titles, two Ohio State Male Athlete of the Year awards and four All-American finishes.
Per the usual, the Big Ten proved once again to be the epicenter of wrestling in the NCAA. Finishing behind Penn State and Ohio State, Iowa and Michigan both earned top-five finishes in the championships. Six Big Ten wrestlers also claimed individual national titles over the weekend. Myles Martin, Snyder’s teammate, also earned a second-place finish at 184-pounds.
“I haven’t really thought about it, just focused on the season...Now I’ll think about it, and get together with my family in the next few days.”
Ohio State’s berth in the NCAA Tournament was one of the most pleasant surprises of college basketball this year. After missing the mark in the previous two seasons, going through a coaching change and losing a significant portion of its roster, the program looked to be in for a long rebuilding year under first-year head coach Chris Holtmann.
However, the Buckeyes emerged hot out of the gate and, by January, were a viable tournament team. Most recently, a first-round win over South Dakota State and a closer-than-expected loss to Gonzaga in the second round, whom the Buckeyes had lost to previously this season, allowed for a graceful exit to the NCAA Tournament and nicely wrapped up a season which well-exceeded expectations.
As well as this season went, it is inevitable that some of the pieces will go missing come next year. Seniors Jae’Sean Tate, Kam Williams and Andrew Dakich have played their last games as Buckeyes, for instance. However, junior forward Keita Bates-Diop, who was by all accounts the star of Holtmann’s squad, still has a year of eligibility remaining. After missing the majority of last season due to injury and illness, Bates-Diop finished this year as the Big Ten Player of the Year--the first Ohio State player to win the honor since Evan Turner in 2010. He averaged 19.8 points, best in the Big Ten, along with 8.7 rebounds per game. He was also a highly-reliable free-throw shooter and shot blocker, all while being a veteran leader on the floor for greater than 33 minutes per game.
Given how complete Bates-Diop’s game is, current NBA Draft projections have the 22-year-old going in the first round. He has already graduated from Ohio State, and there does not seem to be much that he can do to further improve his draft stock should he choose to come back next season. Still, he seems to be taking his time with his decision, once again giving the Buckeyes a chance to relive the season that was far and above what fans could have hoped for.
“And from an outside observer’s standpoint, there’s nothing better than when a great team challenges itself against elite competition. The risk is great--as the Buckeyes learned in 2017--but so are the rewards.”
Ohio State has never shied away from marquee non-conference matchups. In many cases, they work in the Buckeyes’ favor, like in 2016 when a massive road win over Oklahoma sealed Ohio State’s fate as a playoff team. In others, like last season’s role reversal, they still enhance strength of schedule and provide a test for the program prior to the start of the conference slate.
Next season, the Buckeyes are scheduled to play a neutral-site game against TCU at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Initially scheduled as a home-and-home with the Horned Frogs, the game was moved and the schedule adjusted after the Dallas Cowboys opted to pay each school $5 million to make the shift.
“At the time they approached us and we weren’t interested,” said Martin Jarmond, former deputy athletic director at Ohio State. “They came back again and came back again and finally, we entertained it because TCU, mutually we agreed to go there. And they were going to pay us to go there.”
Jarmand left Ohio State last spring to become Boston College’s athletic director, but, prior to his departure, was widely credited with giving Ohio State the premiere matchups fans have grown accustomed to in the non-conference season.
These types of high-profile games have many benefits for both programs. For starters, they help to fuel Urban Meyer’s already-hot recruiting machine. In the face of next season’s matchup in Dallas, it helps solidify Ohio State’s place in the consideration set of highly-touted Texas recruits. In fact, Meyer and company nabbed three of the top six recruits in the state in the 2017 class. Another game in these recruits’ territory could only serve to help that cause. In addition, for the current team, games against strong opponents look good to the College Football Playoff committee, giving Ohio State a shot at another national title.
Beyond 2018, Ohio State already has a home-and-home scheduled with Oregon for the 2020-21 seasons.
STICK TO SPORTS
- In spring training news, the Brewers reenacted the Sandlot
- That guy who hit the three-pointer for Michigan over the weekend? That was Jordan Poole, not Jordan Peele
- Although it looks like Justin Timberlake might have been able to make that shot…
- UMBC won our hearts over the weekend. They also earned an estimated $33 million in exposure for their school